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Start-ups

Hong Kong travel start-up Klook raises US$60m in latest funding round to expand globally

Company sets its sights on travellers from Southeast Asia, a rapidly growing market

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 October, 2017, 11:30am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 October, 2017, 10:58pm

Hong Kong-based travel activity booking site Klook said on Wednesday that it has raised almost US$60 million in the latest round of funding giving further impetus to its overseas expansion plans.

With its fresh funds, Klook plans to expand to North America, Europe and Australia, bringing new travel experiences in these places to outbound Asian travellers, as well as to inbound tourists visiting Asia from these regions.

“This round of funding gives us additional resources to further strengthen our leading position in Asia while accelerating expansion into new markets and verticals,” said Ethan Lin, chief executive of Klook, in a statement.

Klook, which was founded in Hong Kong in 2014, now has 13 offices across Asia and over 400 employees.

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The latest round of financing was led by venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, and includes investors such as Goldman Sachs and Matrix Partners, together with several Asia-based family funds.

Klook currently brings in over 1 million monthly bookings with the majority of its customers coming from Asia, according to the company. The company offers discounted deals on travel attraction tickets, travel activities and even food and dining experiences for its users.

Originally a site centred around desktop-bookings, Klook shifted to a mobile-first strategy within its first year and now counts 70 per cent of its bookings via mobile.

Eric Gnock Fah, co-founder and president of Klook, said in an interview with the Post that its largest market currently is mainland China, where the company also has an office.

“Southeast Asia is growing very quickly as well ... with the increase in first-time travellers,” he said.

Prior to its latest funding round, Klook had raised over US$36 million in venture capital financing. The company declined to reveal its current valuation.

Klook’s success in the travel activity booking space is in part because of its unique experiences offered and its emphasis on localisation.

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Although Klook serves many markets, Gnock Fah said that the mobile app displays different recommended activities based on where the user was using the app and the language the app was being used in.

If the app is used in simplified Chinese, the recommended activities shown by the app would be more experience-based and less tour focused, Gnock Fah said, since data has shown that mainland Chinese tourists are less inclined to book tours.

Southeast Asian tourists, however, are more likely to book day trips and tours around a new destination, and hence such activities would be recommended to them more, he said.

Klook also works with tour operators to customise tours, preventing a “cookie-cutter” experience, Gnock Fah said.

The company also hires in-house travel curators who personally experience and curate travel activities before listing them on the app, to ensure that its users will have a good experience.