Oh my God… it is Double Dutch!

For those of you reading this and not being a native English speaker I may need to explain that ‘Double Dutch’ is an English expression used when one does not understand what is said or written: nonsense or incomprehensible. A great title for this blog which you will understand when you read on.

Like any other industry, the travel and tourism industry can only exist by means of communications. You need letters and words to get your message across. Of course. Letters, websites, mailings, press releases, brochures, posters, leaflets, apps, Facebook, adverts, commercials, newspapers, magazines or blogs only exist because we use texts.

Dunglish | all craziness on a sticky


After having worked for over 30 years in the travel industry my astonishment is as big now as it was two decades ago. Astonishment when it comes down to the quality of Dutch translations inflicted by the travel industry on consumers. From awkward translations to really horrendous Dutch translations. Whilst city, local, regional and national tourist boards, tour operators, hotel chains, cruise and railway companies and other travel organisations spend fortunes on marketing and PR campaigns, it is appalling to notice how little effort is given to a decent translated text.

Yes. When you respect your client you try to approach him in his native language. That’s common sense – isn’t it? – as most consumers still prefer to get and read information in their native tongue. Pretty astounding to see how many – often Europe based companies – have the most dreadful translations on their sites or in their print communication. Spending 99 % of your budget on marketing and 1 % on professional translations seems to be the norm. Particularly French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Greek and German speaking countries seem to excel in the most awful renderings of our language.


I believe the golden rule is: if you have no proper budget to use the services of professional translation agencies or native speakers just forget about it. Most Dutch have a good knowledge of the English language so just be certain that the English in your information tools is up to par. If the Dutch and Belgian markets are really important for you, it would indeed be best to have proper Dutch information available online and in print. But please do not use Google translation ‘services’.

Do not become the laughing stock for many Dutch or Flemish citizens who can only laugh about the awkward texts that we so often read in brochures, presskits and websites. And it is also not only a matter of a proper translation, very often the orginal texts are not suitable for a ‘word-to-word ‘ translation as well. Texts for press releases require a very different style, tone of voice and built-up than for example brochures or online promotional texts, they all have their own approach. So it would be best to use a native Dutch speaker who works in the travel industry, that is the best of both worlds!

It is not ‘gobbledygook’ – to use another great English word – consumers are looking for, it is just proper and plain Dutch. Do it well or don’t do it. There is really no other choice.