Venture Capital: Travel and Experiences Operator Klook Notches $200M
Klook has been able to weather the challenges from the pandemic.
Hong Kong-based, SoftBank-backed Klook, an online travel agency focused on experiences and attractions, has raised $200 million in a Series E round. Led by Aspex Management, the round also featured investment by existing investors, such as Sequoia Capital China, Softbank Vision Fund 1, Matrix Partners China, and Boyu Capital. The company did not disclose its valuation. (Skift)
In an announcement, Klook disclosed the difficulties it faced from the pandemic, as well as the steps it took to meet the challenge to its business.
Klook, the pandemic, and the pivot to domestic travel
“We’ve observed over the past year that consumers have a pent-up desire to explore and enjoy themselves, despite international travel being paused,” said Ethan Lin, CEO and Co-Founder. “Instead, they are turning inwards – exploring new and unique experiences right in their backyard.”
The trend towards domestic travel has gathered steam as COVID restrictions eased up. In markets such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, which are key to Klook, bookings are already reaching near pre-COVID levels as holiday-makers seek out local holiday destinations.
Klook’s new business initiatives
Klook also met the pandemic disruption head-on by launching new initiatives. First off, it launched new verticals such as staycations (“a holiday spent in one’s home country rather than abroad, or one spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions”) and car rentals.
Secondly, it embarked on a digitization drive at its merchants to make the booking of experiences easier, faster, and seamless. These included contact tracing systems, an “Attractions Plus” module, and Klook Live! The last-named is an interactive live stream mobile feature – users can experience merchants’ offerings up-close through entertaining and interactive instant video content.
In another digital initiative, the company is using its SaaS offerings to help merchants reboot their pandemic-hit businesses by easily creating an online storefront powered by Klook. The storefront is supported by a backend engine that manages ticketing, distribution, inventory management, marketing, and more.
The travel agency also enhanced its links with regional tourism boards to help grow domestic demand and broad-base its offerings.
Use of funds
Klook will use the money from the latest funding to accelerate the digital transformation of its merchants with the Klook-powered merchant Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions.
“This new capital further strengthens our leading position to take us from defense to offense, as domestic tourism becomes ubiquitous and international travel gradually returns,” said Lin.
Eric Gnock Fah, COO and Co-Founder at Klook said the new funding would accelerate its technology innovation, and boost growth. He said to Skift that the Klook app would become a super app for travel “experiences” in the future.
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