Feasibility of Travel/Tourism Specialization? Tips for getting started?
Thread poster: Simone Kahmeyer

Simone Kahmeyer
United States
Local time: 21:40
German to English
+ ...
Apr 18, 2016

Hello, I'm planning to start working as a freelance translator in the next year or so (German to English), and am researching various specializations that match my interests. Travel/Tourism is particularly interesting to me, but I don't know enough about the translation industry yet to know if it is a very profitable one. So I would really appreciate any tips anyone could give me on getting started doing travel/tourism translations, agencies that specialize in this, developing relevant knowledge and skills, etc. Thank you!icon_smile.gif

 

Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:40
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Tourism is low paid... but Apr 18, 2016

ranging from 0,04 (don't do it) at booking.com and around 0,08 - 0,10 for tourism sites and hotel descriptions (probably somewhere in between) - cherry picking the easy ones and doing lots of repetitive work (staying clear from the need to investigate local history, geography, or wine, food etc... you should be able to make a nice living out of it...

But beware: tourism translations are the stuff of dreams, wanderlust and looking out your window, wondering when the summer will start....

Ed


 

Schtroumpf
Local time: 06:40
German to French
+ ...
Particularly UNprofitable Apr 18, 2016

As far as the market in my language pairs is concerned, tourism and travel are typical low-price items.
If you want to do it for fun, OK. The trouble is that the field implies good general knowledge of culture, history and so on but that jobs seem very often to be awarded to dumping competors. I suppose that this is the reason why many tourist brochures are so poorly translated...

Medical, legal and financial translations are definitely better for a translator's income.
icon_smile.gif


 

Simone Kahmeyer
United States
Local time: 21:40
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! Apr 18, 2016

Thank you both for your responses. I had a hunch travel/tourism might not be much of a moneymaker--too bad. Perhaps I'd better develop some of my more profitable interests for my main specializations and do the occasional tourism translation for a change of pace.

 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:40
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
This is unfortunately true Apr 19, 2016

Schtroumpf wrote:
Jobs seem very often to be awarded to dumping competors. I suppose that this is the reason why many tourist brochures are so poorly translated...

I think that any "into English" pair will suffer from that - FR>EN certainly does. I do get some work, but almost all agencies want to pay EUR 0.05 or so, so I don't do a vast amount of tourism work. I suppose it's the fact that it's written for the general public that makes it seem "easy" and therefore not worth much. In actual fact, I firmly believe that an article on quantum mechanics is more straightforward - for a specialist translator in that area - than a guide book is for a tourism specialist. As mentioned, said guide book will cover all things of interest in the area: that lovely 12th century church; the extreme sports event held annually; the local wines; the geography and geology of the region; the history of the local industries; the flora and fauna... Nobody is a specialist in all those areas, by definition.

I spent 15 years teaching business English in the south of France. Many of my intermediate students, and even some with a lower level, were responsible for the English website of a tourism company. And of course they were atrocious. Nowadays, they will still be atrocious, but slightly different, having been "helped" by Google. I've tried often to get business owners to see the wisdom of well-written copy, but most just are not going to pay 2-3 times as much for the same number of words.

Like me, you will find some work at reasonable rates. Boutique hotels, cruises, the business travel sector, ski resorts... But most companies will have staff who "can English", or they'll contact one of the massive agencies who will sell them a translation for EUR 0.15 per word and pay the translator a third of that.

So, I advise you to get a second specialisation up your sleeve.


 

Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:40
Member (2014)
French to German
+ ...
It can not be the only field Apr 19, 2016

The prices in the tourism field are particularly low as others already mentionned.

I do also work in that field, but I could not only do that.

Even translating into German and working for direct customers it can be hard to get 0,11 € per source Word and translation into English pays less.

You will most often be offered 0,06 to 0,09 €, not enough to live from in our countries.


 

Andrea Garfield-Barkworth  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:40
Member (2015)
German to English
Depends what you want from life Apr 19, 2016

Although it's true that travel and tourism is generally low paid, it is an area that I particularly enjoy doing.

I have translated for numerous tourist boards from around my region and discovered many hidden gems along the way. It's a great way to discover more about an area as you are involved in virtually every aspect of it, from sights to local attractions, hotels to boutique shops, local craftsmen to industrial giants, something that for me is particularly rewarding. So rather than flipping through a travel brochure you gain an indepth knowledge of local culture and traditions. It's brightened up many a weekend as we've discovered fairs and events I wouldn't have otherwise known about and it is possible to make a living from doing it at the same time. On the other hand, it isn't the only bow to my string.

I have to agree with Sheila though that it does involve an awful lot of research. You need to be prepared to put the hours in.

[Edited at 2016-04-19 10:54 GMT]


 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 07:40
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Sorry to disappoint you Apr 19, 2016

I believe most English tourism texts are written by locals, who want to save money. There is a market for exceptional good native English writers who know a specific locality well. I started out as specialist for Finnish German tourism related translation, but haven't got a job for years in that field. My rates are too high, it looks like.
You should contact publishers of material and offer your services. But most material is very repetitive, all places are gorgeous and the food is delicious, the locals warm and welcoming etc.


 

Andrea Garfield-Barkworth  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:40
Member (2015)
German to English
Heinrich is right Apr 19, 2016

about most material being very repetitive, all places are gorgeous and the food is delicious, the locals warm and welcoming etc.

I remember reading the bumpf about a particular ferry company saying that there was so much to do on board ship this included: sitting with a coffee, reading a book, watching the waves, walking around the ship, chatting to other passengers, whiling away the time daydreaming. Hmmm.


 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:40
German to English
It's not all churches and castles Apr 19, 2016

Even if you manage to find work in this sector, you'll also find yourself working with menus and figuring out how to translate e.g. "Strammer Max" or regional specialties in a way that makes sense in a few words. Then there's the audience: UK or US?

Judging by the amount of material my wife collected while we lived in Europe, I'd say the German/Austrian tourism market is pretty well saturated. You might find B&Bs with horrendous web pages that have been "gegoogelt", and could use some help, but the guidebook and brochure opportunities are pretty rare.


 

Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:40
Member (2014)
English to German
They are all right... Apr 19, 2016

however, you might find the odd client who recognises that they need a good text to sells their product, e.g. if they are trying to rent out a historic property for 9000 Euro per week.

 


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