Even thought about getting a translation assignment at an airport? A really good assignment? Well, it seems that the way of getting one is to hang around in the Airport Business Lounge.
I mean, I travel a lot around. And by a lot I mean that I have typically 40-50 foreign trips a year. In November I’m going to be only one week at home. I do a lot of my translation and website localization on the road, on a laptop computer, in hotels, trains, airports and aircraft. None of my customers has ever noticed or cared because the quality of my work does not suffer from all this. But what I never suspected is that Airport Business Lounges are really good places to get translation work at premium rates.
I usually travel in tourist class, but because I travel so much I have lots of accumulated traveler miles, plus a gold card on several airlines, and get therefore the typical perks of Business travelers. One of these perks is access to the Business Lounge.
Of course, a Business Lounge is a nice place to work while at the airport. You can plug in your computer, it’s nicely quiet, and you can sit in a comfortable seat or at a desk, at your leisure. You can sip a drink while you work, perhaps also eating some cookies… sometimes it’s even more comfortable than working at home. Only inconvenient: People see you working, and since a CAT tool is something that looks quite different from Work or Excel, I get quite a few question about “What is that”?
The reactions are sometimes wonderful when you explain that you are a translator. A lot of people react outright incredulous: Does a translator earn so much that he can fly in business class? Of course, I explain with a poker face, provided that you are very, very good, which of course I am. The question that comes immediately is: “Really? How much do you charge?” Since I am somewhat annoyed that they interrupt my work, I shamelessly double my already high-end rate. Some simply walk away, shaking their heads, probably wondering whether they should quit their jobs and become a translator. But it is now the third time that I get a statement of the sort: “But we only pay one third (or one fourth, or even one tenth) of that for our translations!” Being even more pissed off that they are offering third-world rates to colleagues, I ask them to check out the quality of the translations they have received for those rates, tell them a few examples of translation horror stories, give them my card, and then ignore them. All three times they came back to me, horrified about what their checking did dig up, and asking me to redo the work. At the double rates I actually told them that I worked for.
People in Business Lounges are usually managers, or at least people with a certain seniority. It you scare them enough to verify the real quality of the work that they have received, and they find out that indeed they have been paying for crap, these people are educated enough to understand that they have been penny-wise and pound-fools. And they WILL pay for quality work if it affects their business. Even double rates, it you’re good enough.
I love it. Twice the money for the same amount of work. I’m right now at the Munich airport. I’ll fire up my CAT tool to finish a big translation assignment that I have to finish by next week. With some luck, I’ll walk out of the lounge for my flight with another assignment… at twice my normal rate. If you’re looking for me while you wait for your flight… next Monday I’ll be in Brussels. On Thursday you’ll find me in Cologne. If your flight schedule does not match mine and you want me to do some work, just send me an e-mail… and if you insist, I’ll charge you my Business Lounge rates.