As regulars to Good To See will know, we are staunch advocates of learning a bit of the local language to enhance your holiday. But sometimes it is important to go a little further than that – think legal paper work – translating holiday booking conditions for example! Not just important for holiday makers but also holiday providers.
It was in 2004, when Lille was elected European City of Culture, that I first realised the need to step up to a translation agency rather than just getting by with Google translate and my own creaky French. Although our natural market was English speakers going over to France we were also expecting to pick up a lot of French business – to be honest it was the French business that we had opened a French office for! So we had to get our booking conditions translated for the new market.
Travel is a good example of an industry where getting a professional company to translate is a good idea. Although the language used is seemingly straight forward it actually contains a lot of industry specific language, just as the person who fails to differentiate between a “twin” room and a “double” room will find out on the first night of their holiday!
When it came to making our company ready to work abroad, we had a lot of help from the UK Trade and Industry in the shape of the Passport to Export scheme. It has since been replaced by Exporting is Great. As a UK company it helped us consider the challenges of working in different countries.
But that sort of support is not necessarily available to the first time owner of a French farmhouse, renting it out to all and sundry for the first time. Nor is it available for the family picking through the booking conditions of an Italian ski chalet.
So whether you are preparing or reading booking conditions, it is important to take care when you translate your documents
and get the language right.
It has not just been on the provider-side that I have had to accurately translate holiday booking conditions. For the past two years I’ve had the need to look much more closely at French booking conditions during three completely unrelated incidents!
The summer of 2017 saw our little group of three families head to France on its annual holiday. We had chosen a lovely large farmhouse with a private pool, plenty of acvtivities for the kids, in an area of interest for the adults. But 4 weeks before we were due to go, disaster struck. The family who ran the gite had been told by the authorities that they were not able to accept fee paying guests and that they would try to get our money back to us as soon as they could, but it may not be possible to get all of it back and it may not be soon!
Did we panic? Well maybe a little. Such an extreme situation meant that we needed to study the booking conditions in extreme depth.
Rather than struggle through, we just sent it off to get it accurately translated. It came back the next day and it was clear that we were due all of our money back.
We then wrote a polite but firm letter, getting it properly translated, about how, according to the booking conditions, we were due the whole amount back immediately and, within 48 hours lo-and-behold our money was in the bank.
You see, the rules for travelling are the same at any level. Just as you will get along much better if you demonstrate a willingness to communicate, in the native language of your destination, in a social situation, if you can communicate accurately in a pressure situation you will also find yourself in a better position… even if someone else has done the hard work for you when translating holiday booking conditions!