At Unbabel, we’re lucky enough to have some seriously awesome customers who truly understand what it means to be an international business and to reach people in their native language. We also have a lot of customers who are just beginning their journey of internationalizing and localizing content, and we’re excited to help them navigate the road ahead. We’re always thinking of ways to help these “newbies,” and what better way than introducing them to how our kick-ass clients are dominating the international markets? Enter Musement.
Musement is a travel startup operating out of Milan, focusing on providing a one-stop place for travelers to book experiences — things like exclusive, skip-the-line museum passes, cool bike or walking tours (in London, there’s a Jack the Ripper tour; in Berlin, there’s an underground music tour), wine tastings, and pretty much any tourist activity you’d want to do when traveling to new cities. They recently raised €5 million and are using that money to expand to more cities in Europe and the Americas.
For travel startups especially, translated and localized content is key. People are much more comfortable making online purchases in their native language, and Musement recognized this early on. After exploring different translation options, they settled on the Unbabel API for translating and localizing all of their content.
We talked to Claudio Bellinzona, Musement co-founder, about the role translation has played in their success, their ideal translation process, and what they look for in translation quality.
Before finding Unbabel, Musement was using a combination of an internal translator and freelancers across the world. While this was a great place for them to start, managing all of those people ultimately became too expensive and time-consuming.
One of their main problems was the sheer volume of content they were producing in a complex environment. They didn’t just need titles and descriptions translated, they needed to translate and localize the entire interaction a customer had with their site — including the entire user interface — into 7 languages!
As Claudio said, “When you travel you want to be sure that you understand everything: what you’re buying, the specifics of the activity, product, or experience you’re buying, all presented in a way that encourages trust.” Presenting the entire user experience in a customer’s native language allows Musement to meet customers where they are, and give them the confidence that they won’t regret their purchase.
After all, when you’re in a strange land, you tend to have a lot of questions, and want to make sure you’re getting the best experience possible — and when you’re buying from afar, you want to know that it’s legitimate.
And when you’re constantly producing new content, it’s hard for freelance translators to keep up with the demand — not to mention the constant quality control. Musement needed to find a translation process that was less dependant on a human.
Your customers are not speaking to you?
We have a solution.
So they started looking for an easier solution, exploring translation services. But they didn’t find anything much better than their current system. First of all, they weren’t happy with the quality, which is obviously the most important aspect of a translation service.
Their content team had to spend a ton of time reviewing the results, which was a major time suck. Second of all, the process was old-fashioned and clunky. They had to submit content via email or directly on the platform, which they found ultimately too time-consuming to be worthwhile. Remember, they were trying to streamline their process!
They continued looking for an alternative, and found Unbabel. The first thing that caught their eye was the API. Using the API they were able to integrate all processes within their backend and send content off to be translated with just the push of a button. This eliminated a ton of work on their side collecting and submitting new content to translators. After the translations came through, they just needed to review it, and push it live. With their small team and rapid growth, this was the perfect solution.
The process was a vast improvement, but more important than that is quality. We asked Claudio what they looked for in terms of quality, and how Unbabel compared to other methods of translation. Right off the bat, Claudio said, “It’s dependent on tone of voice. It always needs to be grammatically correct, but it’s not just technical — we aren’t just selling a product, we are producing content that is convincing you to go somewhere or do something. There are flavors we need to share with our customers.”
Side note: We love that Claudio used the word “flavors.” We tend to talk about this in terms of “tone” or “voice,” but flavor seems to feel more like real-life, human speak, which is, after all, what we’re all about.
When asked what advice he has for companies looking to internationalize, Claudio says, “Based on our experience I would say that you need to use very good services. You cannot just translate with a machine that gives you a literal translation. You need to be very, very careful that everything is translated correctly, not just grammar but also in terms of the context and tone of voice. Quality is fundamental.”
Also important to keep in mind: Musement still has people internally fluent in different languages, not just for quality control but for communicating with customers. If you’re translating content, you can’t forget about customer support.
By the way: we know that most companies can’t afford to maintain a multi-lingual customer support team, which is why we partnered with Zendesk to bring translated support to everyone.
Musement is a success story in the travel space, notoriously a hard space to do business in — and they attribute a lot of their success to localizing content. Unbabel has allowed them to do that in an affordable and time-efficient manner. Ultimately, Claudio says, “We found a good translating partner both on the quality, but also on the other side, we found people that listen to us, share and use our comments and suggestions.”
For them, the main benefit is the human touch all around, from interacting with Unbabel to the content that goes up on their site, and that’s the way we like it.