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Didi Draws on Communications to Advance Traffic

May 09, 2017

One of the biggest e-taxi operations in China is Didi Chuxing. Commonly known as Didi, this company that recently merged with Uber's Chinese operations in a deal valued at $30 billion is pushing to get more international traveler interest. Its primary weapon in this fight to gather more of the traveler market is communications, which it's using to staggering effect with new translation tools and English language material.

Riders in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai will shortly have access to a new English-language interface, allowing the cab company's communications systems to better hit the home language of potential riders. Communications capabilities in certain languages are proving to be quite a sticking point, as Uber itself has recently demonstrated in a couple of regions. While efforts to allow riders to specifically select an English-speaking driver have gone well in several countries—it's said to be particularly important in Latin America—Uber is also reportedly fighting hard in the UK against requirements that Uber drivers pass English language proficiency testing.

This serves as an object demonstration of the value of speaking English, and a point that likely isn't lost on Didi. With the new focus on English communications, Didi has likely improved its overall value proposition, particularly for visitors to the region unfamiliar with Chinese language communications. The arrival of systems to allow riders to specifically request English-language drivers isn't on hand at Didi yet, though many believe it's likely only a matter of time.

Better yet, the company is also bringing out real-time translations for text messages, which means that even if the driver doesn't speak English, at least he or she can text English. That may well preclude the need for an English-language driver, if only for some time. The company even offers email and telephone support for English speakers.

There's been a lot made of the primacy of English worldwide, that it's essentially become the ultimate language of business worldwide. While that may or may not be the case, there's no doubt that there are plenty of primarily English speakers going into China for business or tourism, and trying to learn Mandarin after a certain age is, by some reports, next to impossible. So it's worthwhile for Chinese businesses here to make some accommodation for those who are traveling temporarily, and need to perform some basic functions. It's worth at least trying to learn another country's language before traveling, but there's always room for some help.

By making travel easier within the country, Didi has significantly improved its chances of being the service that international visitors turn to, and it's all thanks to easier communications.

Edited by Alicia Young

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