If you run a travel website, or any B2C-focused website, you already know how valuable customer reviews are to you. In fact, they may be even more important than your own content: studies have found that people tend to trust user reviews more than they trust the sales talk of travel professionals.
But when you expand your business to international markets — and travel is, by definition, a global business — how do you handle multilingual reviews? How do you encourage your international visitors to leave the reviews in the first place?
This post covers some of the best practices for encouraging in-language reviews on tourism websites. But these recommendations are universal and are equally applicable to any e-commerce company that wants to engage its visitors, build a thriving online community and, ultimately, greatly expand the amount of content surrounding its products or services.
First, create a total in-language experience
Multilingual user-generated content cannot be created in a language vacuum. A complete localized experience is necessary to attract your international users to your website in the first place.
Translated websites will feature the right trip- and vacation-related keywords that your target buyer profile may be searching for. Hence, you have a greater chance of being found and a transaction taking place. The review, of course, will come only after the transaction. So, if you’re missing the first step of translation, you might as well give up on user reviews.
Don’t neglect social media
Too often, companies link their local-language social media profiles, such as Facebook and Twitter, to their monolingual sites — or the other way around. This is not conducive to creating reviews. Why? Because more and more sites are collecting feedback on their social media profiles. So, if a local user in Germany happens to visit your website and finds all the content in English, she will not even bother going to your Facebook wall, even though you may be using German there.
The other situation is also surprisingly common. The website is available in the local language, but when people proceed to the social media profiles, they see English or the home country language and content. Unhelpful again.
Make it easy for users to create in-language content
If you’re collecting feedback on your own site, take care to ensure that the submission process is easy to use. Users shouldn’t have to learn to use it, and the content they enter shouldn’t display as junk characters or have any other display problems. Very few users will bother to enter a review twice.
Use open-ended and close-ended approaches
Some users may have a lot to say, but they aren’t professional writers. Others may not have the time to collect all their thoughts regarding their experience of a particular travel product. There may also be cultural preferences at work. Hence, provide distinct categories for customers to give feedback.
Use close-ended approaches, such as a Likert scale, where users can click buttons to show their like or dislike of a particular vacation. Ask questions that they can answer by selecting from among the various choices provided. But also include open-ended approaches, such as a text field where they can enter more content. Use both approaches and avoid marking questions as mandatory.
Encourage users to identify themselves
They can do it by using social media profiles or email, or by creating an account on your site. This helps you (1) build user profiles (2) keep spammers/trolls away and (3) serve users better if they happen to have a complaint. Of course, you should provide the option to stay anonymous, but make it clear that the reviews will have more value if the credentials are verified.
Consider the pros and cons of using syndicated reviews
Companies like Reevoo and Bazaarvoice allow you to syndicate user feedback on products that might otherwise take some time to generate on your own pages. Remember that the reviews still won’t tell the user anything about your website or your level of service.
Travelers’ reviews are trustworthy and conversion-friendly, but in order to earn them you must make your international users feel encouraged and comfortable enough to speak up. Follow the steps discussed above to get a competitive edge in global markets.