Watch your language | TravelResearchOnline


Watch your language

When I wrote my book Visionistics – The Process of Success, I wrote it in English.  While I speak a couple of other languages, I could not have expressed myself clearly by using any of them.  With my limited skills I may have successfully translated the words, but the important message behind them would certainly have been lost.

My book is soon to be translated into Chinese due to increasing sales in China.  This is a language where nothing but the tone of voice can change the sound “cha” from meaning “tea” to meaning “nasty.”  Subtlety matters. 

My book is filled with subtle metaphors and not all them translate – the words do, but not the meaning.  In many cases, we must create completely new metaphors that are meaningful in Chinese.  As a writer (and communicator) it is my responsibility to deliver the message, not just the words.

In business and in our personal lives, we must deliver more than just facts and words.  It’s the message behind them that creates relationships, builds trust, generates sales and even causes romance to blossom.  But, what language are you speaking?

The travel agent vocabulary is filled with acronyms like PNR, PTA, GDS and odd abbreviations like res, pax and tix.  Here is a real example from an itinerary I once received: “HTL GTD 6P XL B4 4P W/O PNLTY.”  Luckily as a former agent, I still speak travel.

Agents toss around phrases like “4-beret rating” or e-tix” and assume ordinary folks know the difference between “travel insurance” and “cancellation insurance” or “beachfront” versus “ocean view.

The worst however, is when they refer to hours of hard work and research as a “price quote” rather than the professional consultation it actually is.  What a dangerous message that delivers.

As websites become more attractive, colorful, friendly and seductive–effective personal communication matters more than ever.  And as with my book, it is your responsibility to deliver the message behind the words as well as make good on the message.

What is the message?  Honest, genuine service from someone who really cares.  That’s a language that anyone can understand.

Nolan Burris is an author, former travel agent, failed musician and self-professed techno-geek. He’s also a popular international speaker both inside and outside of the travel industry.  He is the founder and chief Visioneer of Future Proof Travel Solutions ( based in Vancouver, Canada.  Nolan’s believes that if can change the way business works, you’ll change the world. His goal is to spread the message of integrity and ethics in a techno-driven world.

  2 thoughts on “Watch your language

  1. Excellent, Nolan! Nobody can say it quite like you! Now, I’d better get back to work on that price quote….:-D

  2. Geoff Millar says:

    We had the same thing when I was vice president of sales for a software company. We had our own language and you had to be careful what you said as clients would have no idea of what you are talking about when you start throwing industry terms around. Clients don’t know what an MCC or IC means. As far as speaking with clients, so many times it is not what you say but how you say it.

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