Some business travelers head off on the road for familiar places. But others travel the world. And while visiting new far-flung places can be interesting and exciting, it can also be challenging if you don’t speak the local language.

In the past, when I’ve traveled overseas to countries where I didn’t speak the language, I always made sure I had a translation guide handy, or access to some translation applications on my iPhone.

But I recently came across a new translation option that might be interesting to business travelers who have to cope with real-world translation issues.

This Business Travel QuikTip features an overview of Muuzii real-time translation services, via an interview with Eric Fang, the CEO of Muuzii.

(This article is part of a series of Business Travel QuikTips, in which I explore or introduce readers to a business travel-oriented solution, product, service, or person.)

Tell me a little bit about your translation service
Muuzii offers the only real-time, free-form translation service delivered via SMS and MMS and available 24/7 on any device and operating system. Because it is not an app, subscribers do not need to have a Wi-Fi or Internet connection. This is important when traveling to places with limited or no Internet connection. It works on any mobile device with texting capability. The subscription service runs on 2G and higher telecom wireless networks.

Who needs translation services? Doesn’t everyone in the business world speak English?
While many people around the world make it a priority to speak English to better their employment prospects, not everyone you encounter on a trip overseas speaks English.

Below is a testimonial from one of our business customers that is fluent in English and Spanish, but needed help with Chinese:

“My real  story about Muuzii. I was in a mall in Beijing, my favorite Chinese food are dumplings. In the food court saw a guy making dumplings, but since I’m a vegetarian, and there were too many options to choose from, I needed to tell the guy I wanted an order of veggie dumplings, and with no Internet  available I could not use my translator app, so I wrote the word “vegetable” in my Muuzzi translator, and a few minutes later I was enjoying my delicious veggie dumplings. That’s a real story, in a real situation where Muuzii comes so handy. Thank you Muuzii!”

Another Muuzii user went to 7/11 to grab a quick bite to eat for breakfast. Although 7/11 is an American brand, no one in the store spoke English. He used Muuzii to ask for a vegetarian option and was pleasantly surprised to get a tasty vegetarian bao (steamed bun). Muuzii can be highly beneficial in the daily interactions taxi drivers, getting directions when you are out and about, in restaurants, etc. where people may speak some English, but not have a large vocabulary.

What makes Muuzii different from other options that business travelers might have?
You don’t need a smart phone to use the Muuzii service. Some apps are limited to the translation data populated in the app so if you encounter a situation or response that is not already included in the app, you are stuck. For example, you select an app to help you learn to say where is the nearest bus station. You practice the phrase and say it to someone, if your pronunciation is not correct you get a questioning look, so then you play the recorded question for him or her out of the app.  Now they understand and answer you back. Problem is, you don’t know what they said, or if you do, you don’t have enough vocabulary to continue the conversation.

With Muuzii use your text messaging capability, type in what you want to say based on the situation – no canned phrases – and we’ll send you a text with the translation. If you want to pronounce it you can or you can show it to the person. If they say something you don’t understand, you can ask them to text it in their language. We’ll translate it back to English. That’s Muuzii Message. If you want an audio file, then the Muuzii Speak service sends you the translation and an audio file so you can play what you want to say. Virtually everyone know how to text and has that capability on their phone so there is no complicated user interface. We are a way to communicate in a language they understand. With Muuzii you have a better chance to understand and be understood, and are less reliant on others’ ability to speak English.

Why not just get a translation app—won’t that work for most cases?
Muuzii allows travelers to conform to the context of the situation and it will translate colloquial phrases and slang. If you don’t want to sound stilted by reciting canned phrases because you are trying to build a business relationship, be friendly, or ask for help Muuzii is the ideal communication tool.

What problems might business travelers run into with translation services or programs?
This is by no means an exhaustive list, problems may include:

  • No Internet connection so their app doesn’t work
  • Data on the app may have vocabulary limitations
  • User interface may be difficult to master – Muuzii uses text
  • If the first translation is not accurate, or a little off, one cannot easily get an alternative response
  • Must have a smartphone

How accurate is your service / other translation options?
Muuzii provides greater accuracy than competing applications due to its proprietary processes that connect man and machine. When adding a new language Muuzii evaluates the top five translation engines in the world and selects one with the greatest accuracy to serve as a foundation and then we improve on the engines performance by sanitizing messages for typo and other errors before sending the request through the translation engine. This produces less garbage in, garbage out.

Over seven years with millions of users we’ve developed an extensive proprietary database of language pairs and optimized the translation retrieval process to deliver a response in seconds. Behind the scenes our team of linguists review new translation requests and the responses we delivered to ensure that Muuzii provided the most accurate response. If there is a better response that is added to the database so they next time we get that request the most accurate response is given. The more people use Muuzii the smarter it gets.

Because the service was developed in China, no one can match the accuracy of its delivery of both pinyin and Chinese Characters.

How is it sold/what does it cost/ etc.
Muuzii Message, the SMS text-only service is priced at $20.00 for six months. Muuzii Speak, the MMS text + audio service is priced at $25.00 for six months. Data rates may apply. Current language pairs include English | Spanish and English | Chinese, with plans to expand to forty other languages. Language pairs work both ways so you can text us in Spanish and we will send you the English translation or send us a text in English and we’ll respond in Spanish.

Both services are currently available on the AT&T network and will be expanded to all carriers in the next 30 to 60 days.

The cost of the service is added to your monthly wireless bill; and we are in the process of offer other payment alternatives including pre-paid cards, debit and credit cards, and PayPal.

You can subscribe to the service at

What’s important for business travelers to consider if/when they need a translation service?
Muuzii services are designed to be quick, easy to use, and highly accurate. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Comfort level speaking the language. Do they have an extensive vocabulary to communicate in all situations? Can they understand slang and colloquial phrases? If they might need help, can they service handle every situation or just limited circumstances?
  • Service availability. Does the service require Internet or WiFi. If so will those services be available at all times and in all locations that they will be visiting.
  • Translation Accuracy. What is the quality of the translation? If you get a poor response can you rephrase the question or statement to communicate the desired message?
  • User Interface. The ability to text is virtually universal and it’s fast. So with Muuzii services you have all the equipment you need and the knowledge to use it in the palm of your hand. Will they have to learn how to work the app, how difficult is it to get what they need, and how fast is it?

What are the features/functions/capabilities/etc. of your service that would make it especially suitable for business travelers?
Unique features/functions, and capabilities include:

  • Nothing to download because it’s not an app; just use the text capability on your phone
  • Unlimited dictionary of words, phrases, idiomatic expressions, and slang
  • Works on telecom networks 2G and above. No Internet, Wi-Fi or computer required.
  • Anytime, anywhere, on any device and operating system
  • Provides both pin yin and Chinese characters in the English | Chinese service
  • Fast, easy to use, and highly accurate

Anything else I’ve forgotten to ask?
As more businesses move manufacturing overseas, it is becoming increasingly important for managers to have tools to communicate with employees that may not speak English. Yet they may not have time to enroll in classes; and even if they do make a commitment to learn the language as they learn it would be helpful to have a tool like Muuzii to act as a pocket translator on the factory floor. Muuzii is an affordable option to reduce travel costs, training, and translation/interpretation expenses. Plus you get the added assurance that a translator does not misinterpret what you want to say. You speak directly.