Travellers can soon book Grab on Booking.com’s app – and IMs to drivers will be translated to the local language

The service will be available in 43 languages and 50 currencies, and will have an auto-translate messaging platform. From left to right: Angel Llul Mancas, VP and managing director of Booking.com APAC; David Adamczyk, director of strategy for Booking.com’s transport division; and Shawn Heng, Grab’s regional head of business development and Grab for Business.
Business Insider / Lamont Mark Smith

Have you ever been on a foreign cab ride where you feel like your driver is ripping you off?

Well, you might not have to worry about that if you could hail a ride without having to worry about the language barrier.

A partnership between ride-hailing service Grab and Booking.com will allow travellers to book local rides without worrying about language barriers or about getting ripped off.

Announced on Tuesday (Oct 29) morning, Booking.com app users can now book Grab rides in Singapore without having to create a new account or downloading the Grab app.

The service will be rolled out in Indonesia and Thailand by the end of the year, and will be made available in Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Vietnam and the Phillippines by early 2020.

Available only on iOS for now, the partnership will provide users with “the tools they need to travel like a local,” the companies said. The service will be available on Android by the end of the year, the companies said

Users can choose their preferred currency and language on the service, and messages sent via the Grab’s instant messaging (IM) feature will be auto-translated into any of the 43 local languages that Booking.com operates in.

For example, Danish-speaking travellers in Singapore will be able to send messages to Grab drivers in their native language, as their messages will be auto-translated as long as they are using the Booking.com app.

The service is located under the “more” section of the Booking.com app, and users will be able to change their preferred language and currency in the “settings” menu.
Business Insider / Lamont Mark Smith

South-east Asia, “with its love of mobile technology, is the obvious arena in which to take on the challenge of ride-hailing,” the companies said. According to ABI Research, as much 70 per cent of the world’s ride-hailing activity takes place in Asia as a whole.

Additionally, tourist arrivals to Asean are projected to reach 155.4 million by 2022, according to GlobalData.

Shawn Heng, Grab’s regional head of business development, told reporters on Tuesday morning that the partnership is a “natural fit” for the company to cater towards international travellers, especially since “ground transport is really fragmented in South-east Asia”

This is not the only time the online travel site will be partnering with Asian transport providers.

David Adamczyk, Booking.com transport division’s director of strategy, said that the site is looking to collaborate with China’s Didi Chuxing ride-hailing service as well, after the full rollout of the Grab service.

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