Strategies to Help Hotels in MENA Tap into The Region’s Booming Tourist Market 

The hospitality industry in the Middle East has seen tremendous growth in recent years. According to PwC, the industry surpassed the 100 million annual tourists mark in 2022 and brought in over $270 million in revenue. Knight Frank reports that from 2030, the market is slated to accommodate upwards of 160 million tourists per annum owing to the hefty investments in large projects that continue to stream into the region. 

But as the region gets more external exposure and climbs up the ranks of most preferred tourist destinations, language barrier issues are bound to arise. For instance, in 2021, 54% of tourists who visited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia originated outside MENA while Dubai, one of the most notable tourist cities in the Middle East, reported 11.40 million international visitors from Jan to Oct 2022. These visitors, who formed over half of the total tourist population, and who can be assumed to speak languages other than Arabic, might have had a sub-optimal experience if they had difficulties navigating the country in their own languages. 

For this reason, if you are a hotel owner looking to tap into this growing foreign market, you should localize your content into multiple languages to reduce the risk of missing out on potential business. 

Wondering how to attract and retain international clients? Here are some pointers to start your localization and translation journey: 

Make the booking and reservation process accessible 

The rise of online booking platforms, particularly in the Middle East, has created a significant shift in the past decade. This technological advancement has revolutionized the way consumers book their accommodation, resulting in a more streamlined and convenient process. This source projects that the e-travel market in MENA will grow by at least 20% every year for the next five years. According to an exec at Mena Research Partners, the travelers who plan their holidays online have high expectations, demand personalized offers and do extensive online research before making purchase decisions.  

In order to promote the region to a global audience, it is essential that you develop a website that is not only user-friendly, but also tailored to meet the linguistic and cultural needs of your diverse visitors. Extensive research indicates that the caliber of a tourism website’s language and the degree of localization of its content serve as critical determinants of the perceived excellence of the business or service offered. In short, the better you are at localization, the more tourists you’ll attract. 

Make location-based translation decisions  

As you embark on your localization strategy, it is important to have an implementation roadmap. Although the ideal is to have your content available in as many languages as possible, it is pragmatic to start with the languages that attract the most visitors. Using the KSA for example, the highest number of foreign tourists visiting the country in 2021 originated from India, so hotels in the region should consider making their services available in a language like Hindi that is widely spoken in the country. 

For more personalized efforts, examine your Property Management System (PMS) and guest’s database to find out the countries that show the greatest interest in your brand and service offerings. Digital tools like Hotel Insights and Google Trends can also help you comprehend the patterns among incoming travelers and detect the primary markets from which your potential guests are likely to originate. This data will help determine your translation priorities. 

Enable multiple payment methods 

To enhance the chances of securing international reservations, it is recommended to enable guests to view room rates in their local currency and provide them with various payment methods. This not only saves time by eliminating the need for currency conversions but also increases the likelihood of completing a booking. According to statistics, 42% of online buyers may not proceed with a purchase if their preferred payment method is not available on a website. Therefore, it’s important to take into account the payment method preferences of tourists based on their country of origin and offer them more choices accordingly.  

Additionally, it’s crucial to regularly adjust room rates to align with the prevailing exchange rates. 

Focus on your brand’s visibility 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a crucial factor in determining the online visibility of a website. With the ever-increasing competition in the hospitality industry, hotels need to adopt SEO techniques to ensure that their website ranks high in search engine results pages (SERPs). This is particularly important when targeting international guests. 

A crucial first step is to research and understand the target audience. This includes identifying the preferred search engines and keywords used by international guests to search for hotel accommodations. This differs widely from country to country and across age brackets. Then to increase engagement, focus on creating content that is relevant and informative for your potential guests. This includes providing information about the local area, nearby attractions, and cultural events. Also important is to make sure that your website is mobile ready as an increasing number of people (67% in the US for instance) make hotel reservations on their phones. 

Tarjama can bring the world to your hotel  

As a Bonafide LSP in MENA with experience in over 55 languages, Tarjama is your one-stop shop for everything translation and localization.  

Our deep understanding of the Arabic hospitality market, and how it can be packaged to attract international tourists is well within our forte. What’s more, we can cater to your entire content creation process from ideation to execution, with refined precision. Our top-of-the-line AI services are complemented by our professional translators, who ensure that your content is not only accurate and timely but that it takes into consideration any cultural sensitivities that may be at play within your target audience.  

Our output ensures that your clients are well engaged, which in turn keeps your bottom line in check, constantly. 

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