The Unexpected World of Escort Interpreting in Tobacco Market Research

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Skilled interpreters are more than just language experts; they’re cultural navigators. They bridge the gap between languages, easing communication and fostering understanding between people of diverse ethnicities. This concept perfectly came to life in our recent project, Tobacco Market Research Interpreting, which we undertook at Thao & Co.

In this project, Thao & Co. had the honor of accompanying a delegation of officials from the world’s leading cigar filler manufacturer, facilitating communication between them and Vietnamese micro-business owners. This field trip was all about market research – the delegation needed to gather valuable information about the tobacco industry in Vietnam, and we were there to bridge the communication gap.

Now, put on our interpreter’s headset and join us! Let’s delve into the unexpected challenges we faced during this project and discover how we navigated those tricky situations on the fly.

Undertaking the project with special requirements

While our experience in accompanying interpretation usually allows us to hit the ground running on new projects, this one presented some unique challenges that put our skills to the test.

Thao & Co.'s Interpreting Project: A Field Trip for Tobacco Market Research

1. Special requirements for a large group of escort interpreters

Right from the briefing, things got interesting. We learned this wouldn’t be your typical escort interpreting job – ten interpreters were required! The itinerary added another layer of complexity: multiple locations across District 1 to get a well-rounded picture of the local tobacco market.

One of the most exciting aspects of this project was the chance to work with senior managers from all corners of the cigar company’s global network. Considering these factors, it became clear that the interpreter team needed more than just linguistic muscle. Tactful communication and professionalism were equally important.

2. Quality control and training

Tobacco Market Research - Interpreting Project at Thao & Co.
Senior managers and Thao & Co.’s interpreter after the briefing

Our extensive network of expert linguists came to the rescue! We quickly assembled a team of interpreters – all fluent in both English and Vietnamese, and with the flexibility to connect with local tobacco retailers in a way that fostered open communication.

Pre-mission prep was crucial. Our team gathered for a briefing, where we discussed key details: the nature of the event, the expected dress code, and maintaining a professional demeanor throughout.  Safety was paramount, so we also reviewed the itinerary and coordinated with the supervisors responsible for the managers’ well-being.

3. Glossary development: Tobacco industry terminology

Thao & Co. came through in a big way, providing us with a glossary of tobacco industry jargon to aid the interpretation. This lifesaver of a list ensured we could smoothly interpret those technical terms and score major points with the delegation!

The glossary proved invaluable for tackling some of the industry’s more obscure terminology – terms you wouldn’t hear at your local smoke shop. Think ‘carton‘ (a box of many cigarette packs), or ‘filter‘ (the paper part in contact with the mouth when smoking).

The field trip experience

Tobacco Market Research - Interpreting Project at Thao & Co.
One of the teams kicked off on Nguyen Hue Walking Street, Ho Chi Minh City

Right from the start, we were divided into ten agile teams. Each group was tasked with accompanying a delegation of six to eight managers on their individual journeys through the bustling heart of Ho Chi Minh City. Our destinations? Stalls and shops brimming with the local tobacco scene.

Information gathering at traditional markets can be tricky. Unfamiliar faces asking questions about their business? It can raise a red flag. These shop owners often operate with a close-knit network and value their privacy. But that’s where our expertise comes in!  Through in-depth training and leveraging our local advantage, we navigated these situations gracefully. By the end, the store owners were happy to share their insights, and the managers walked away with invaluable market knowledge.

This project truly underscored the value of experienced interpreters. It wasn’t just about translating words; it was about building trust, navigating cultural nuances, and ensuring all parties felt comfortable and heard. This is what drives us at Thao & Co. – understanding our clients’ needs and exceeding expectations through clear communication and cultural connection.

How did our Tobacco Market Research Interpreting project end?

Tobacco Market Research - Interpreting Project at Thao & Co.
The field trip was overwhelmed with joy and contentment.

After three relentless hours navigating the bustling markets, our team was undeniably weary. But all exhaustion melted away the moment we saw our clients’ faces. Beaming with delight, they showered us with warm thanks and enthusiastic handshakes.  In that instant, the fatigue was replaced by a surge of pride.

We weren’t just interpreters; we were language facilitators who had empowered our clients to navigate the intricacies of the tobacco market. The insights we helped gather will surely play a part in our client’s upcoming strategic product launch, and that’s a truly rewarding feeling.

Don’t miss out on more fascinating behind-the-scenes stories! Dive deeper into our interpreting and translation projects under the Case Study category at Thao & Co.

Source: Thao & Company
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