Choosing which event to attend is no longer restricted by borders and time zones, as delegates are increasingly happy to travel further afield for the right event. They are spurred not only by the abundance of cheap flights and budget accommodation, but by a real desire to learn about the latest innovations, best practice guidelines and the opportunity to network and share ideas with colleagues and peers from across the world.
But are we doing enough to reach delegates beyond our country’s borders? A study by the European Commission in 2011 revealed that 90% of Internet users in the EU, said that when given a choice of languages, they always visited a website in their own language. A similar survey by the Common Sense Advisory in the US also found that 72% of consumers were more likely to buy a product or service online if the information provided was in their native language1. With this in mind and the fact that most people now research for events online, doesn’t it make sense for your events to have multilingual websites?
Multilingual sites today present one of the most cost-effective ways of marketing your events, attracting new delegates, building relationships with them and giving your organization an international outlook:
- Shows You Care – It doesn’t take much effort to create a multilingual website (more below) but that extra effort shows your delegates that you care about them and are considerate of their needs, which makes them more likely to book onto your event. We all know that personalization is important to our delegates and what could be more personal than talking to them in their own language?
- Builds Trust with Your Delegates – Trust is an important part of doing business. Trust in an event and the event organizer is even more important if a delegate is travelling from abroad. Communicating with these delegates in their native language helps them feel secure, understand what they are buying and who they are buying from.
- Helps You Stay Ahead of Your Competitors – Make no mistake, your event has competition. Whether it’s from other events, alternative ways of spending budgets or time constraints, your delegate needs to make difficult choices. If they only go to a few events a year, you need to make yours stand out. Offering a multilingual website will give your event a competitive edge by demonstrating to delegates that your organization thinks, works and deals internationally.
- Improves Search Engines Optimization – Search engines lead people to your site. While it’s tempting to view Google as the only search engine that matters, in reality this isn’t the case as in many countries, such as France, Japan and China, Google is not the default search engine. Baidu is popular in China, Acara in Japan and Voila in France. Such search engines are a key to tapping those markets unless they have access to a particular language though your multilingual event website, then your event will not be found. In addition, search engines like Google are developing the capacity to run searches in foreign languages. Having your website available in those languages helps to ensure it will be picked up in searches.
But the Internet is in English
If you assume your delegates speak your language well enough to skip the translation step, you’re wrong. Today only 35% of the Internet’s content is in English, and this number continues to diminish. Russian, Spanish and Portuguese, for example, are continuing to trend upward with no sign of slowing down. If you are targeting delegates who speak these languages, it is worth considering translating your content to better reach and connect with them. And while other languages like German, French and Japanese are trending down, they still represent such a large portion of the online community that it is worth thinking through your targeting approach to those markets as well1.
It’s a Lot Simpler Than You Think
Having the ability to communicate to a whole new international audience in their own language will undoubtedly bring results not only in a financial sense but also in terms of marketing and creating awareness of your event. And luckily, creating these multilingual event websites isn’t a complicated process if you consider the following basic requirements:
Make Sure Your Event Technology Supports It – Most event management or registration software these days offer a multilingual module, which allows important pages on your event website including those for registration and agendas to be displayed in several popular world languages of your choice. By providing tools that allow you to automatically translate things like website headings, button texts, warning messages and email communication, the software helps you copy templates from one language to another in no time. Organizations like the British Council do this with their in-country events and the system has proved to be very successful.
Make Sure You Have the Necessary Staff Resources – If it’s a simple event website with a registration form that collects basic delegate information (name, country and contact details), then having staff that can speak the language isn’t entirely necessary as you can manage most of it through an online translation service like Google Translate. In most cases, however, you will need to have someone on your team who has a working knowledge of the language to oversee all translation requirements and more importantly, manage all delegate communication – from sending registration confirmation emails, making changes to agendas and managing requests.
If you don’t have the staff resources, then there are other affordable options. You can hire a freelance translator through services like Upwork and Fiverr, that offer hundreds of talented and reliable people to work with. Alternatively, you can also use an online translation service like Unbabel, that combines artificial intelligence with crowdsourced human translation to deliver fast and high quality services to companies who want to reach international markets.
Written by Lynda Browne, Client Loyalty Manager, Eventsforce
1 Unbabel: Top Languages of the Internet, Today and Tomorrow