Keep Looking at Klook

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In 2008, Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk founded Airbnb, today the startup is valued at over 10 billion USD and has disrupted the traditional travel industry in a major way and currently offer more rooms than several large hotel groups in the world. In the past few years, many others have sought to disrupt the travel industry with their start-ups too. These start-ups have brought a wider variety of choices, prices and experiences to consumers and one of the most recent ones is Klook Travel. A Hong Kong based start-up announced earlier this week that it has completed a US$1.5 million seed investment round, mainly led by Mainland China tech veteran, Xiaoguang Wu (Tencent’s Senior Executive Vice President and CEO of E-Commerce) earlier in February 2015.

According to the co-founder of Klook, Eric Gnock Fah, the company, which name stands for ‘Keep Looking’, is a one-stop-shop for travelers to explore and book a curated selection of fun-things-to-do from a skip-the-queue Hong Kong Disneyland ticket to underwater shipwreck diving adventures in Bali. The company aims to “revolutionize the lengthy, tedious process of itinerary planning into an efficient, hassle-free experience while offering exclusive deals up to 50% off and ensuring all travel picks are carefully verified”.

The first company in Asia to launch an app to make travel activities booking much easier and spontaneous, Klook’s iOS app has been featured by Apple’s App Store as one of the “Best New Apps” in 14 countries across Asia for three consecutive weeks since its soft launch. Beside that, Klook is also “the first company to enable instant ticketing to some of the most popular attractions in Asia – within a matter of seconds after booking, travelers can show up, with no more queuing up, and no more printing vouchers – all seamlessly synced with Klook Mobile, Asia’s first travel activities booking app”. Eric shared:

“Mobile will be a game changer for this sector. Although, according to recent data, over 80% of travelers research their trip online pre-departure, we believe a significant share of the bookings happen at the destination – and that’s where mobile comes into play. We are excited that Klook Mobile is leading this trend in Asia.”

Besides their key market differentiators, Eric believes that there is a big market opportunity for Klook in this market. He said: “Planning and booking activities are part of the last leg of the travel market. However, despite being a sector worth over US$125 billion in estimated global sales yearly, the market remains largely fragmented and offline, with online penetration rate at less than 8%, compared with flights and hotels at ~46% and ~23% respectively. This represents significant room for Klook to consolidate the tours, activities and travel experience markets.

Klook App

A recent survey also indicates that 87% of travelers use the Internet for the bulk of their travel planning, including researching activities to do at a destination and reading reviews on their options. Once they have decided to book, another length of time is spent coordinating with individual operators, who are very often not as tech-savvy. Many of the more authentic, unique experiences are run by small-scale operators, who do not have the budget to invest in technology or promote themselves.”

Klook and its full suite of in-house content management and reservation systems, helps small-scale and local operators showcase their unique experiences and services online to travelers from around the world.

“Travelers have long been fond of insider deals for hotels or vacation packages, and Klook is the first to bring this concept to the travel activities space,” added Eric.

“We have a team of travel curators on the ground, not only scouting for the best deals but also carefully vetting each operator we work with.”

Launched in September 2014, Klook currently operates in 21 destinations in Asia and has two regional offices in Shenzhen and Taipei. It offers more than 1,000 carefully handpicked experiences. In the upcoming months, they are planning to offer tour and activities in Japan followed by more Asia-Pacific destinations over the next few months. In the past several months, they have increased their team size to over 20 employees – this is more than double the employees they had previously. To date, they have a user base of over 200,000, with bookings growing 10 times quarter over quarter.

The Klook team is excited about their recent seed investment round, especially with Mr. Wu of Tencent as their lead investor. “Mr. Wu will be a valuable player in bringing Klook’s vision to fruition with his years of experience from major tech and travel companies,” said Ethan Lin, co-founder of Klook. “We are extremely positive at the strategic value that such investment brings and the myriad of collaboration opportunities this opens up. Tencent’s leading position in China is unquestionable but the tech giant is also very active in other Asian markets with the likes of Wechat, iPick, Joox, etc.”

Klook’s platform is designed and optimized for both English and Chinese native speakers, enabling it to go after two very large travel markets. Their focus on Asian and China markets is intelligent: by 2030, tourists from Asia will lead all regions of the world in total departures and expenditures, contributing more than 50% of the growth in global traffic and China will be one of the most significant contributors.  “With Asia’s growing significance in the global travel sector, Klook is well positioned to capture this huge market opportunity along with its innovations in mobile booking and instant ticketing,” said Mr. Wu.

“In particular, with the rise of independent travel, China is seeing increasing demand for more authentic experiences, and that is an area Klook excels in – uncovering unique, local activities.”

Klook’s ultimate goal is to become the go-to platform for travelers looking for fun things-to-do and it seems to be on track to getting there. So, keep looking at Klook.

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