Do You Need Transcreation? 5 Questions Travel Brands Need to Answer

Using Transcreation to Establish an Emotional Connection With Global Travelers

Global audiences have never been more accessible to travel marketers. In the last 5 years, the percentage of the total population with access to the Internet at home, via any device type, and connection increased by 53% (source: With internet penetration rising at an accelerated rate among huge population centers in China, Central America, and South America, the time is now to map a globalization strategy and take advantage of transcreation and/or travel translation services to reach these potential travelers.

Greater accessibility to international markets brings a new set of challenges for travel marketers

  1. OTAs can take on the burden of translation and localization and can expose your products to a global marketplace, but they exact a high price: they take extra margin if they do the localization, they expose you to your competitors, and they become an obstacle for developing customer loyalty by inserting themselves as a middleman.
  2. Travel buyers conduct significant research, so you must work hard to be seen where travelers are doing their research.
  3. Consumers are bombarded with marketing messages, and consumer attention spans are becoming ever shorter, so you need to make an impact, quickly, before they move on.

The power of emotional marketing

For years, the advertising industry has recognized the importance of emotional advertising and the fact that emotional appeals drive purchasing decisions more strongly than rational appeals. In a recent blog post, HubSpot noted that “the most shared ads of 2015 relied heavily on emotional content, specifically friendship, warmth, and happiness."

Purely Emotional Advertising Performs Strongest

The impact of emotional advertising has not gone unnoticed by the travel industry, which has a unique advantage when it comes to making emotional connections. Tnooz explains how “memories, smells, sounds, sights, and experiences all combine…to capture a bit of the emotional resonance of travel" And Skift attributes the success of some of last year’s top travel ads to their effective use of images to “evoke a sense of wanderlust, adventure, and love, while the products that make these trips possible take a backseat to the emotions they stir up."

Challenge: Translating emotional content to other languages & cultures

Examples of emotionally engaging travel campaigns abound, but international campaigns that manage to achieve the same degree of emotional resonance are few and far between. Why is that?

The fact is, it is quite difficult to adapt emotional marketing messages to other languages and cultures that are very different from the original source language. Straight translation is a blunt tool, not a silver bullet. Even a translation that is linguistically accurate can fail to convey the intended emotion and brand impact due to differences in religion, social norms, etiquette, humor, color associations, and pop culture references. Worse yet, poorly executed adaptations for international markets can come across as inauthentic, seem ridiculous, or even offend a target audience.

In a subsequent blog post, we will dive deeper into transcreation, a localization technique that’s gaining traction with Travel & Hospitality marketers.  Transcreation ensures that marketing concepts have the same impact as their original source versions, no matter where in the world they are used.

Stay tuned for the upcoming posts in our 3-part Transcreation series:

  1. Using Transcreation to Establish an Emotional Connection with Global Travel Consumers
  2. Do You Need Transcreation? 5 Questions Travel Brands Need to Answer
  3. Transcreation Done Right: Best Practices Travel Brands Can Follow