How Trek Rides to Victory in 19 Languages

US-based Trek Bicycle Corporation has been building bikes for the world since the 1970s. From the company’s birthplace in Wisconsin (USA), it has since brought its custom-built two-wheelers to 160 countries.

Name it and Trek has it: mountain, trail, cross country, fitness, electric, road, gravel bikes, and more. The brand that Swiss cyclist Fabian Cancellara, one of the best of his generation, rode to victory has truly gone global. Trek now offers an extended component line including wheels, computers and GPS, lights, pedals, handlebars – and even apparel – jerseys, team wear, helmets and shoes.

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How customers understand and perceive Trek products and brands in different markets is the responsibility of Emma Goessling, Localization Manager at Trek, and her team.

Goessling manages multilingual projects for the company. From localizing product packages, user interfaces (UIs), retail signages, brand videos, training materials and marketing collaterals to translating press releases, legal documentation, warranty and service information, catalogues, and white papers, all with the end goal of heightening Trek’s marketing efforts across the globe.

Busy Season

From January to April this year alone, Goessling says her team has already completed about 200 projects. “Our busiest selling season is May to end of August,” she explains.

Translation volume has definitely gone up from last year, but word count has remained fairly consistent, growing 20% at best, according to Goessling. She attributes this to more a agile project management style.

“Lately, we have also shifted more focus to the B2C marketing of our content with our consumer facing website. We are making more effort now to drive traffic to our website through search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM),” she says.

Emma Goessling, Localization Manager, Trek

Trek’s website is currently available in 19 languages and 33 locales, with its top target languages being French (France), Spanish (Iberian and Mexican), Italian, and German, according to Goessling. There is also a high volume of translation from English to Dutch and Dutch to other European languages.

Perhaps surprisingly, the company’s in-house localization team is relatively small. “It’s just me and two project managers. The team started when I joined the company about six and a half years ago,” she says. “Our offices around the world are small efficient teams, with around 25% working in some localization capacity.” ”

The LSP Within

Goessling describes her team as a language provider (LSP) within Trek, where they function as localization consultants to different departments to make sure that everyone has a global mindset. Starting out with a more traditional single LSP model, they have now – with much success – transitioned to a direct to freelancer and specialized LSPs platform-model.

Trek has come a long way in the last five years when it comes to localization maturity. “Everyone now thinks of localization from the start of the project,” she adds. “No matter what team you are on from Marketing to DevOps to Creative Services.”

She admits though that the company does not have a linguistic quality assessment (QA) or any numeric system in place for measuring quality – yet. “We are very reliant on our end consumers and our in-market reviewers. They are selecting their linguists and they are responsible for the quality. However, we have a goal to start measuring quality by the end of 2017,” she says.

Goessling’s team is in the final stage of implementing a new software that would further streamline the localization process to include centralized server-based translation memory and term management, customized CMS integration, vendor management, and LQA process. This, she says, is in pursuit of the company’s goal for automation and localization maturity.

“Everyone now thinks of localization from the start of the project” — Emma Goessling, Localization Manager, Trek

Asked to comment on recent developments in machine translation (MT), Goessling says her team is getting ready for it.

“It really emphasizes the need to clean-up our translation memories, so we can utilize MT and post-editing – especially of our product content – to ensure a faster time to market ” she explains. “We wouldn’t be using it for all content types or all languages to start, but we will instead focus in on product content in our higher volume languages.”

Eden Estopace

IT journalist and Online Editor at Slator. Loves books, movies, and gadgets; writes for a living, but codes for fun.