Imagine being able to strip your business entirely from the realm of society as you know it. Imagine erasing the word ‘scope’ from your vocabulary and replacing it with ‘universality’ and ‘reach’. Imagine being able to provide your business with all of the resources it needed to cater to each and every market across the world.
That is the essence of globalisation.
If you want to continue expanding and generating sustainable business in an industry like hospitality – where people and communication are at the heart of what you do – you have a vested interest in making sure you are a ‘one size fits all’ kind of company. The connectivity afforded to us by the internet has meant that giving your brand global appeal is now easier than ever, if only you know where to start.
You’ve heard of ‘citizens of the world’. Here is how to become a business of the world…
1. Consider Payments & Currency
This may seem like an obvious one, but this is an especially important consideration for hoteliers and accommodation providers – whose primary customer base are internationals looking to travel. This doesn’t, however, mean that having a currency convertor on your website is enough. This actually refers to your business’ regard for foreign currency and subsequently, your web usability for customers’ outside of your native country. [quote]You could be missing some very lucrative opportunities from frustrated users having trouble with your website.[/quote]
When buying online, do your customers have to wait until checkout to get a price they can make sense of? Are your conversion rates transparent enough? Have you considered how your payment screen processes foreign characters, or the cyrillic alphabet? These are all considerations to discuss with your business’ web team, as sites that don’t consider currency from the offset statistically see much lower rates of sales conversion, and more ‘abandoned baskets’ as a result.
You will also want to look at local preference with regard to payment options , as these will vary from market to market. Shoppers in the US and UK may rely on PayPal, but Asian markets prefer Alipay. A notable 6% of shoppers polled by SaleCycle actually abandoned baskets purely due to lack of payment options available.
2. Reduce Language Barriers
Web analytics reports – such as those provided by websites like Google and Hotjar – will tell you all about your website’s traffic sources and where the bulk of your customers are coming from, so use this intel to make sure that you’re improving user experience by offering your services in a customer’s native tongue. You’ll be happy to know, this can be as easy as adding the Google Translate plugin to your website.
Of global consumers polled by The Common Sense Advisory , 55% said they would only purchase from a website that provided information in their own language, so if some of your more prominent markets are not English speakers and your website is still monolingual – there is a demand that your business is failing to meet.
Many brands considering time zones are now even enabling customer service chat-bots that can communicate directly with customers around-the-clock, in their mother tongue. Some are going one step further by preempting the native language of a user based on their location, IP address and browsing history. Now that’s hospitality.
[quote]55% of global consumers only purchase from websites that provide information in their own language.’ – The Common Sense Advisory, 2014[/quote]
3. Culturally Considerate Marketing
With marketing, businesses cannot assume that what worked in one country will also work in another. Even the McDonald’s menus vary from country to country. To integrate and more importantly appeal to an international market, you have to strategize based on what that specific market responds to. [quote]You may uncover that your US market is much more receptive to mobile social media, or that e-mailouts are particularly effective in the UK – these kinds of insights will tell you exactly how to distribute your marketing budget.[/quote]
Building a robust global strategy takes awareness of context. KFC could have used this kind of thinking before giving the go ahead to the slogan ‘finger licking good’, which may have gone over fantastically in English speaking territories, but in Chinese, actually translates to ‘we’ll eat your fingers off’.
Instead, market with content in mind. Look at considerate alternatives to slogans, partner with influencers that have command over your target demographic in that region, tailor your pricing structures to what is competitive, and put together ad campaigns that make use of societal zeitgeist.
4. Embrace Employee Multiculturalism
Insights from employees with diverse backgrounds can vastly improve your business in every facet, from customer and staff satisfaction to vision and creativity. In fact, of the companies examined by consulting firm, McKinsey, those with more diverse employee backgrounds financially outperformed those that didn’t by a whopping 35%.
[quote]Embracing your staff network in their individuality, or recruiting as such, brings a community element to your brand that exhibits care, and helps to appeal to your customers on a very personal level.[/quote] Are your staff able to put customers at ease by engaging with them in their native language? Could they perhaps offer a unique marketing insight or product suggestion ? Could they inspire a brand new business initiative altogether? Make use of the incredible, worldly nature of your employees and build upon that knowledge to drive your business forward.
5. Be Sensitive to International Customs
The humble handshake, although generally accepted as a greeting or way of sealing a deal, can cause great offense to a prospective business partner in the Middle East. As left hands are reserved exclusively for personal hygiene, offering this hand in a social setting or when dealing with food is considered deeply insulting and unclean. A restaurant will certainly not appeal to
this particular market if it is deemed unhygienic.
Businesses should be aware of global etiquette as ignorance is not just fundamentally inhospitable, but can be catastrophic for business relationships. [quote]Showing awareness of regional customs – both social and legal – will signal to international partners that you are socially in tune and respectful, as well as indicating you are ready, should the opportunity to collaborate arise.[/quote]
Pay particular attention to local regulations, legal barriers, taxes, charges and if possible, seek local representation for this. They can then function as your eyes and ears on the ground.
At the end of the day, worldwide appeal boils down to consideration, adaptability and preparedness. The ability to communicate these things to an international market will help you and your business thrive the world over. Want to learn more about how tocater to an international market in practise? Why not enrol in one of our Hospitality courses today. The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step, right?