Travel Trends to Bet On in 2014

This article originally ran in Forbes

Last month, we attended PhoCusWright’s Travel Innovation Summit in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and were fortunate enough get a first-hand look at the five trends in the highly competitive travel industry that will impact the entire business community in 2014.

1. Mobile matters today and will matter more tomorrow. Consumers will be more mobile in 2014. Period. If your company isn’t channeling the lion’s share of its energy into reaching the mobile user, you’re going to be left behind. eMarketer reports that mobile search advertising is expected to grow 52% in 2014. Travel companies have been at the forefront of the mobile explosion as the vast majority of their customers work off of mobile devices when on the move. “Travel companies need to design products with mobile in mind first and everything else should follow from there” is the mantra we heard over and over again. This same logic applies to any company looking to reach an increasingly mobile consumer in 2014. 

2. Emerging markets remain relevant. The world will return to emerging markets. If you thought that the recession eliminated opportunity for growth in emerging markets, think again. The United Nations reports that there are more than 2.5 billion internet users worldwide. Last month, the Internet and Mobile Association of India reported that India (205 million internet users) is on pace to overtake the US (207 million internet users) by the middle of 2014. This will place India second only to China which currently has 300 million active internet users. Given the growing buying power of China and India’s populations, ignoring these increasingly accessible audiences in 2014 means you’re leaving potential revenue on the table.

3. User acquisition is cheap and getting cheaper. The world will be even more open. With more internet users coming online every day and app markets racing to meet them, it’s become easier and more cost effective than ever to reach new customers through internationalized websites, localized apps, translated ads, and customized messaging and branding. The list of companies clamoring to provide the most international platform is long and getting longer—think Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Amazon, Apple, Yahoo!. Fortunately for you, this competition translates to lower costs and more impressions.

4. User retention is costly and getting more costly. The world will demand more from you once you have their attention. The cost of acquiring a new customer remains fairly straightforward, spend X dollars to acquire Y customers. The cost of retaining a customer remains tricky and ultimately far more important. Highly targeted messaging will help you cut through the noise and you’ll likely acquire someone willing to try your product. The issue is that the noise doesn’t stop once you acquire a user. Today’s customers see up to 5,000 ads a day, which means if your company isn’t taking a holistic approach to each and every customer touch point by localizing and personalizing messaging, you’re missing out on opportunities rise above the buzz and retain current customers.

5. APIs are ubiquitous don’t ignore them. The world will give you even more API’s in 2014. We heard this time and time again at PhoCusWright, “build for the future and pull from what’s available today.” Companies of all sizes should think long and hard before building a new product from scratch. In the travel space, if your company is building proprietary technology to manage international travel and communications, you’re wasting time, money, and resources. The same goes for just about every industry that depends on software. Find relevant APIs and save your precious time and resources.

If you take these five trends into account in your planning for 2014, you should improve your chances of staying ahead of the curve and building for years to come. Do any of these trends stick out to you as more import than others? What else are you doing to prepare for 2014?

Ryan Frankel is the CEO of VerbalizeIt, the company that connects businesses and travelers directly to a 16,000-person translator community to deliver the highest-quality human translation. He is a Wharton MBA alumnus, former private equity investor for Goldman Sachs and an endurance athletics enthusiast. You can reach him via e-mail at

VerbalizeIt’s CEO Returns from Japan and Answers Some Questions

Last week our CEO and co-founder Ryan Frankel presented VerbalizeIt to several hundred business leaders in Tokyo, Japan. Japanese business leaders were impressed with our translation platform and live Japanese interpretation capabilities. The craziest part is that, this wasn’t the first time they’d heard of VerbalizeIt. Several of these same audience members had seen our PhoCusWright presentation from a few weeks ago. Here are a few questions and answers with Ryan about his trip to Tokyo.

Japanese Translation Verbalize It In Japan

Q. Who was at the Global Brain Alliance Forum? Did anything surprise you about who was in attendance? 

A. The Global Brain Alliance Forum was attended by Japanese enterprises, investors, thought-leaders and entrepreneurs. With hundreds of attendees, the Conference was a fantastic opportunity to introduce the VerbalizeIt translation platform and to engage with prospective customers and garner exposure overseas. Given the existing language barrier between several English-speaking presenters and most attendees (which required the use of a live conference interpreting system), our business focus was particularly salient and well-received.

Q. In listening to the other presentation and talking with other attendees, did you notice any trends or take away any valuable lessons?

A. The feedback from attendees was consistent with the major demographic theme we’re hearing from our existing customers: language barriers are pervasive and the rate of internationalization continues to vastly outpace improvements in language proficiency. Companies and individuals alike are looking for technologically sophisticated and low-cost solutions to navigate language barriers.

Q. What parts of your presentation were most well received? Why?

A. The role that the human element plays in translating language and cultural and situation context. The audience was well-versed in the challenges associated with machine translation and the headaches and costs of dealing with traditional brick and mortar translation agencies

Q. Last question, how was the food? 

A. Fantastic. I was fortunate to have several mornings to explore Japan on my own and found myself gobbling down local delicacies. The highlight of the food was an early morning visit to the Tsukiji Fish Market where I sampled fresh sushi. Sushi for breakfast, lunch and dinner, anyone?!

Ryan Frankel Image

Delivering Japanese Translation, VerbalizeIt Hits Japan!

Yesterday our CEO and co-founder Ryan Frankel presented VerbalizeIt to several hundred business leaders in Tokyo, Japan. 

Japanese Translation Verbalize It In Japan

Japanese business leaders were impressed with our translation platform and live Japanese interpretation
capabilities. The craziest part is that, this wasn’t the first time they’d heard of VerbalizeIt. Several of these same audience members had seen our PhoCusWright presentation from a few weeks ago. 

When you eliminate language barriers, the world becomes a much smaller place.

What if you could flip a switch and reach 96% of the world?

Did you know that 96% of the world’s consumers live outside the US? Have you translated your website, mobile app, documents, audio or video files to reach them? Expand your customer base and check out our latest newsletter insights on how to embrace the global economy below. 

The Future Of Ls Ps

How To Translate and Localize Your Mobile App or Website

It’s critical that you keep two items in mind: content and knowledge. Here are the key benefits and challenges you’ll face…
Mobile App Translation and Localization

What the Future of Translation Services Holds

Earlier this month, we hosted a dozen language service providers in our first ever translation roundtable. Check out the trends in the industry and how they’ll impact your business…
The Future of LSPs

Forbes – From Upstart to Startup of the Year

Forbes came to us requesting that we share our 2013 milestones, failures, and lessons learned. After much deliberation, here’s what we came up with…
Milestones and Failures

Wharton – How to Prepare for an International Sales Pitch

We only had one shot to turn the heads of Fortune 500 employees. Get the inside scoop on how we prepared to take the stage and how we put ourselves in the best position to win…
International Sales Pitch

In case you missed it…

Forbes – What’s the Secret to Taking Your Small Business Global?

NYER – How Do You Reach the 53 Million Spanish Speakers in the US?

Where Are Your Marketing Videos Falling Short?

Wharton – Why Do Multinationals Still Need Global Guidance?

The Future of Language Service Providers Lies in Technology and Quality

Translation Roundtable

Earlier this month, we hosted a dozen language service providers in our offices here in New York City for a roundtable breakfast. We exchanged ideas and perspectives around the translation project lifecycle from sourcing to submission to execution. We discussed every angle of the translation business and worked together on finding greater efficiencies in our highly disaggregated market.

The bagels were fresh, coffee was flowing and the conversation was spirited. Here are the two topics we determined were most critical to improving language services: technology and quality.

Software, or technology, is slowly but surely consuming our world, and the translations industry is no exception. As language service providers struggle to stand out, we all agreed that technology is the key differentiator in providing unique services to our customers. We’re going to continue working on eliminating the traditional project management approach in favor of faster, more cost-effective and reliable project delivery experience. We’re also going to continue working on enhancing the quality of translation through technology as our translators share cloud-based translation memories and glossaries, which brings us to our second point…

No matter how sophisticated the technology gets, we cannot lose sight of quality. During the roundtable breakfast, our conversations always ended with “but we can’t overlook quality.” Just like the importance of tying your health to a quality doctor, ensuring your content is translated flawlessly and localized correctly is critical when committing to a new language. Do you really want to get your website translated, only to find out you have made a fool of your company? Or, even worse, offended your target customers? Fortunately, quality is one of our core values and remains central to everything we do.

Today, we are working harder than ever to improve our technology to bring you the best language services platform on the market. Sign up for our newsletter below for more insights and updates and share your insights on the translation industry with us at

From Upstart to Startup of the Year, Our 2013 Milestones and Failures

This post originally appeared in Forbes

Good ideas are a dime a dozen. Our successes this year resulted from a delicate balance of ideas, experimentation and execution. Rinse. Wash. Repeat.

As we close out 2013 and look back on a year filled with milestones, it’s important to remember that milestones are preceded by failures (sometimes many!). Determining what transformed these “learning experiences” into successes has been the key to our growth from a startup to a well-respected and disruptive language translation company.

We started 2013 with an “innovative” translation app and ended with the first ever self-service translation platform. Within every small triumph we found corresponding perils and walked away with invaluable lessons learned.

Milestone 1: Launching in New York

New York City and “startup” have not always been synonymous. The reality is that New York is now one of the top startup hubs in the nation (check out his map) with more than 260,000 people in the tech startup space. As a language translation company we saw a natural fit in the Big Apple, which is home to thousands of international businesses and citizens representing more 800 spoken languages.

Failed Idea – Believing that we could change the world from our desk chairs. There are plenty of examples of companies young and old that have grown quickly and succeed early (hello SnapChat). What often gets lost in all of the buzz around their growth and success is that they literally or figuratively put their product in the hands of early adopters and looked for feedback. We certainly did this during TechStars (and continue to do so today) but when we first moved to New York, we thought we could gain early adopters through email and social media and neglected the most important part of New York City—it’s proximity to our target customer-base.

Lesson Learned – If you’re a young company in New York City and not pounding the pavement, you’re likely missing something. Today we take full advantage of our proximity to thousands of corporate translation clients, multilingual individuals who represent both travelling customers and translators, and the media. Initially, we didn’t know where to start but getting involved in the Made in NYC and Young Entrepreneurs Council communities helped us channel our energies in productive directions. Beginning with our Valentine’s Day campaign, extending into the development of our new translation platform, we spent more time outside of the office talking with customers to build the best product suited for globally minded customers.

Milestone 2: Appearing on Shark Tank

People often remember our episode on the season finale of Shark Tank. Robert Herjavec, Kevin O’Leary and Mark Cuban ended up in a heated bidding war for a stake in our company. Appearing on national T.V. was certainly a huge milestone, but we suffered from the fact that when we had filmed the episode a year earlier, we were solely focused on one product offering, instead of what is today a robust full-service translation platform. We struggled to explain to interested viewers how our business had evolved since filming a year earlier. Our larger milestone actually came in the form of a full write-up of our translation services in the New York Times that clearly conveyed everything we had to offer.

Failed Idea – Refer a friend. Referrals work for some companies better than others. When Dropbox first offered their users 500 megabytes of storage space for every referral that signed up they saw a significant spike in users. Human-powered translation is different. Until a user sees the product in action or uses it, it’s difficult to convey the experience of having a professional interpreter on the line. In preparation for the influx of signups after Shark Tank, we tried to mirror traditional referral programs and had minimal impact. Our approach should have been more nuanced.

Lesson Learned – Messaging matters, a lot. Truly refined messaging, particularly for new users, is critical to conveying that you offer more than just a one-dimensional service. Every email, word on our website, social post and press quote needs to take into account that a reader may not understand the full breadth and depth of your offerings. We had dozens of people come to us requesting Spanish translation because they wanted to sell to countries in South America. We then shed light on the fact that if they were interested in emerging markets like Brazil (or India and China for that matter) they would need to have multiple languages at their disposal. In short, ensure everyone who comes in contact with your company sees value right away while simultaneously conveying your company’s entire scope of offerings.

Milestone 3: Winning Startup of the Year Honors

Recently we were honored to win the Travel Startup of the Year Award at PhoCusWright, the world’s largest travel conference. We thought it would be worthwhile to document how we prepared, what happened on stage, and what happened after our experience of presenting to Fortune 500 employees.

Failed Idea – Hashtags are overrated. We decided that in addition to using the #phocuswright hashtag we were going to generate our own Twitter conversation #vipcw. Although it didn’t take much time, the returns were minimal at best and we likely wasted time trying to generate our own Twitter conversation (or participating in the larger conversation for that matter) when we could have dedicated even more resources to the being out on the conference floor meeting people.

Lesson Learned – Face to face connections still matter more than anything. Many of the companies that expressed interest in a client or partnership relationship with us were companies with whom we have been speaking for months, but never had a chance to meet in person. Doing so at the conference solidified some great relationships. Moreover, meeting in-person with many new companies further supported our relationship building efforts for months to come.

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Ryan Frankel is CEO of VerbalizeIt, a 2012 Wharton MBA and TechStars alumnus, winner of the PhoCusWright Startup of the Year Award, former private equity investor for Goldman Sachs and an endurance athletics enthusiast. You can reach him via e-mail at

How To Translate and Localize Your Mobile App

When you’re ready to translate and localize your mobile app, it’s important that you keep two critical items in mind: content and knowledge. Your content and knowledge are what make up your app and ensuring that your translation vendor is both capable of translating your app’s content (in context) and storing your app’s knowledge is critical for both the short-term and long-term success of your app.

Business Banner

What content should be localized…

Descriptions and keywords must be correctly translated and content must be adapted to meet the requirements of a foreign market. Customers are significantly more likely to engage with your app if it’s in their native language. VerbalizeIt allows you to easily localize your app by uploading and translating:

• App store information.
• Description, Metadata, Keywords
• Launch tips, Local payment systems, Push notifications, Privacy policy, etc
• Style guide and glossary, and localize screen shots.
• Strings or XML files

Not all translation was created equal… 

Just as every culture is made up of specific customs, laws and traditions, every language also holds specialized rules. Specific language and cultural translations must be done on a country-by-country basis and require an intimate knowledge of the language, customs, and cultural biases of the regional audience. Professional, accurate, specialized translation is key for the sale of apps in the foreign market it is intended for.

Technology & sophistication…

With frequent releases and updates, the technology and platform of a translation provider is critical to long-term value and success. Translation memory and comprehensive understanding of the deliverables are key to streamlining app updates without breaking the bank.

With app stores in more than 150 countries and a worldwide user base, mobile app technology is a truly global business with unprecedented international potential. If you think everyone in these markets speaks English, think again. In 8 of the 10 largest iPhone and Android markets, English is not the predominant language.


Why app developers choose VerbalizeIt…

With access to the most sophisticated translator network as well as intimate knowledge of the app development arena we’re a trustworthy partner with professional quality services. Here’s why:
  • Translator community – With 16,000+ professionals located in 150 countries, advanced specialized expertise to address any language and industry focus with a native specialist.
  • Quality assurance – Each translation is completed by a tested translator, checked by a community leader, and verified by VerbalizeIt staff for quality before being finalized and delivered to the client.
  • Technology platform – Full workflow integration with our API and extensive file format support. Translation memory for cost savings. 
  • Professional services – Comprehensive and supplementary services for internationalizing customer service and support.

Meet VerbalizeIt: The World’s First Human-Powered Translation Service from VerbalizeIt on Vimeo.