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Vacation Rentals, The Importance Of Language
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Vacation Rentals, the Importance Of Language

This may seem obvious but the vacation rental travel/accommodation business is global, we all do it, all over the world. However, the majority of the worlds accommodation providers insist on “doing it” just for those in certain groups - usually their own language and maybe one other, typically English.According to the CIA world factbook last updated December 2012, “first spoken” languages are as follows

  • Mandarin Chinese 12.44%
  • Spanish 4.85%
  • English 4.83%
  • Arabic 3.25%
  • Hindi 2.68%
  • Bengali 2.66%
  • Portuguese 2.62%
  • Russian 2.12%
  • Japanese 1.8%
  • German 1.33%
  • Javanese 1.25%

Chinese is the number one language which may appear obvious but many are surprised by the fact that Spanish is the second. When second languages are taken into account the statistics change dramatically with Chinese, Arabic, English, Russian, French and Spanish becoming languages used by half the worlds’ population.

Your vacation rental property needs to be promoted to “humans”. The text you write should be understood by your target market. But maybe you should consider other markets as you could open up new potential new markets and customers with a minimal investment.

Think about someone from France going to a Japanese restaurant in Tokyo and being presented with a Japanese menu. Do you think that they will order. Unlikely, they will look for a restaurant that can offer them a menu in French. Would you feel comfortable ordering something on a Polish language website – especially where credit card details are required, if you did not speak Polish.

In both cases the majority will not spend any money - but their money is the same as everyone else - if only language was used to help them.

In 2000 17.9% of Americans spoke a language other than English at home (US Census). In 1998 over 30 million Americans were Hispanic. Of these 86 percent use Spanish as their first language. High Spanish populations are California 5.5 million, Texas 3.4 million, New York 1.8 million and Florida 1.5 million.

The 2006 census of Canada revealed that 6.8 million people (of which 5.8 million are in Quebec) out of a total population of 31.2 million only spoke French (Canadian Census).

Most businesses can take advantage of language without having to learn it. We all know if we travel internationally that we may run into problems with language. We all survive but we all love it when someone else makes it easy for us - in fact, we really appreciate it. It becomes a reason to use that company or service.

It is not as simple as thinking about a country. The UK has a rapidly growing Polish community, at least 300,000 in London. Whilst many speak English, “Polish friendly” businesses will undoubtedly gain.

So when you prepare information about your property. Think about translating:-

  • Your text information
  • Directions
  • "bullet point” style features

Typical translation costs are 0.10 USD or less per word. You only do it once! Generate a few extra reservations and it is paid for. Use professionals to do this. Online website automatic translation services are useful but can produce bizarre results which can insult or confuse readers.

Consider translating into English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Russian, Arabic and Japanese. These languages will make sure that most of the worlds travel “consumers” are included. Common sense should be used. Think about those that visit your area. In the area surrounding the small town of Grasmere in the Lake District England, Japanese has become important for accommodation providers. Grasmere is famous for its association with the famous author “Wordsworth”. Grasmere is an important destination for Japanese tourists and whilst many will speak or understand a little English they appreciate any effort to communicate in Japanese.

When choosing websites on which to list your property consider language. Homeaway is one of the worlds largest vacation rental property listing providers. They have sites targeted at different countries and markets and can offer different rates depending on how you do it. Your property in Spain can be listed in Spanish on the Spanish Homeaway website. It will also be available to English tourists looking for a vacation rental property in Spain but not necessarily with the same ranking as the same Spanish property listed on the United Kingdom Homeaway website in English.

Language is of course not just about the website. Many property owners will also have information they have prepared for guests about the property. This may need translating too and that is more work and expense. However, you should remember that most websites target English speaking guests. Whilst this is changing, there is less competition in non English websites and that could become an advantage for you.

Whatever language you choose make sure that you make your decision based on thinking about your target customers, not just because you “speak” it. In my travels around the world working with many vacation rentals businesses it is true to say that the most successful ones have all grasped multiple languages and use them to differentiate their business from their competitors.


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