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London 2012 and Language Services

in Language Connect

We’ve been enjoying the recent publicity surrounding the London 2012 Olympics. As we struggle to make it into our London office through the commuter chaos at London Bridge station every day, we ask ourselves the question: how would we direct a non-English speaking foreign visitor to one of the Olympic venues?

Being termed as the “Multilingual Olympics”, London 2012 will play host to athletes and spectators from 220 countries around the world. As London is already home to a large multicultural population with more than 300 languages already spoken in the capital, everyone should feel right at home.

To make everyone an equal participant in the Olympics, businesses should strive to accommodate as many languages as they can. Not only will this be useful for the Olympics, but it will also help businesses connect with the many foreign language speakers who reside in London and all over the UK.

VisitBritain has already translated their website landing pages into 22 languages to help visitors from abroad to plan their trip. However, other London attractions have been slow to adapt their content to non-English speakers, potentially missing out on the chance to convert international tourists into sales. Translating a website allows a non-English speaking visitor to find and book a London attraction more easily. We’ve just translated the website for a UK and London travel tour operator, for example, so that visitors can book tours before arriving. Research shows that 72% of online shoppers are more likely to buy if they can find relevant information in their native language1. Getting your website translated as early as possible ensures that your business captures the maximum sales from the overseas interest generated from the Olympics.

Then there’s the matter of providing language services for non-English speakers who arrive in the UK. Visitors will need local information about where to find goods and services. How do I get to the Leicester Square ticket booth to buy theatre tickets? Where can I find an Italian restaurant nearby? Is the National Portrait Gallery open on Mondays? Businesses can address this easily by creating mobile versions of their sites and/or downloadable apps, translated into relevant languages. They can further enhance engagement by linking into and promoting Twitter and Facebook feeds in their local language.

Many London attractions and businesses seem unprepared for these visitors and it’s only a year before the Olympics commence. As language service professionals, we understand the scale of effort that goes into translating to various languages. Our recommendation is that you start planning your marketing strategy for the Olympics now before your competitors take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

1 Can’t Read, Won’t Buy: Why Language Matters on Global Websites, Common Sense Advisory.


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