Monday, August 11, 2008

Every face tells a story

Thankfully the headline is not a reference to the, er, classic Cliff Richard single from 1997, but describes quite nicely the results of the Oban Multilingual 'Face of Global Search' survey.

Following the release today of the survey looking at online travel search habits, Greig Holbrook, director of Oban Multilingual, has also penned some analysis of the results:

What the results clearly show is that travel search is a very culturally diverse activity and that search plays a huge part in both the research and purchase of holidays for global travellers.

The growth in Chinese on the web has been phenomenal and reflects the fact that over 900 million people on the web don't speak English (around 70%).

Ninety-nine percent of those people who took part in the research indicated that they have booked travel online at some point. This once again reflects the fact that globally, people are becoming increasingly familiar with booking their travel online.

This means that suppliers not only need to cater from them in their own language but also, as much as possible, allow them to buy successfully from the site. This means the sites need to be very well localised to reflect all search and online purchase behaviours.

Chinese travel searchers don't seem to want to use Google, often preferring their own engines like Baidu much more. With the huge increase in Chinese searchers actually buying online in 2006-2007, it makes more sense than ever to make sure that optimisation for China is focused on local search engines.

It is not surprising that travellers going to different place are looking for different web features. International travel searchers are becoming more specific in their online behaviours so that in addition to multilingual web optimisation, global social media optimisation also needs to take place. In this context, a site properly optimised social media that is visible to a variety of cultures will prosper.

The finding that those who look for multilingual websites tend to avoid Google reflects the fact that international searchers are increasingly demanding good quality multilingual sites which are visible in their own search engines and not simply on Google, as Google is very often not the preferred engine or method for sourcing travel bookings.

In terms of Spanish people travelling to the UK, we have already found that travel sites often fail to provide good optimisation in Spanish for visitors who are seeking to visit the UK.

Spanish people may use some English phrases to search or they may use Spanish, but very few travel sites provide them with the experience they need so they are often forced to use English sites.

There is a great opportunity for travel companies to tap into the demand for travel from Spanish searchers; both for holidays within Spain and for travelling elsewhere like the UK.

Greig Holbrook, director, Oban Multilingual


ro said...

Studies have shown that English speakers are becoming a minority in terms of people using the internet. Thus businesses not only in the travel industry have to adapt by creating multilingual websites to attract a larger customer base. The key to doing this without blowing tons of money on a programmer is to locate a CMS (Content Management System) that has UTF-8 coding making it easy to create multilingual websites. We use Bitrix Site Manager 7.0 that takes on a WYSIWYG format for website development and content management in many languages. Might be something interesting to look at.

Volker Ballueder said...

This research is very good.

Not only China, but also India and Mexico are growing in regards to domain names and ultimately internet users.

Over 80% of the internet languages can be covered by about 25 languages, something WebCertain ( offers inhouse.

For anyone intersted in multilingual search, you can find more infos on: - 20th of November 2008 in London - a forum dedicated to multilingual search.