Travel tech firm Klook to expand operations on back of US$30m funding round
Firm eyes markets outside Asia to tap growing demand from Asian travellers
Hong Kong technology start-up Klook, which runs an online and mobile concierge application for the best deals on travel attractions, tours and activities in Asia, plans to accelerate its international expansion this year after raising US$30 million from its Series B fundraising, led by Sequoia Capital China.
“Klook will be broadening its scope of operations beyond Asia to meet the spending power and growing appetite of Asian travellers,” co-founder and chief executive Ethan Lin said on Thursday after the company closed its second funding round.
In a conference call, Klook co-founder and chief operating officer Eric Gnock Fah said proceeds from that round will be used to open new market destinations, support more languages, widen its in-destination offerings, increase the number of research and development staff, and build up its portfolio of travel videos to include new formats like virtual reality and 360-degree view content.
The latest financing raised by Klook – short for “Keep Looking” – marks the continued interest by venture capital firms to invest in travel technology companies around the world.
More than US$2.8 billion in investments over the past four quarters have gone to travel technology financing deals, according to global venture capital database service CB Insights.
“Scale advantage is a prominent element in the travel industry, especially within the highly fragmented in-destination sector,” said Neil Shen, the founding and managing partner at Sequoia Capital China, in a statement. “With combined strengths in transaction and community, Klook has become a proven leader in Asia.”
Klook covers more than 80 popular destinations mostly in Asia and provides access to about 10,000 travel attractions, tours and activities.
The start-up, which helped travellers book a record five million trips last year, has more than 200 employees based in eight offices across the region.
Founded in 2014, Klook initially raised US$1.5 million in seed capital from Welight Capital in 2015 and later that year generated US$5 million from its Series A fundraising, led by Matrix Partners.
The mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan comprise the bulk of Klook’s source of revenue, derived mainly from commissions and advertising, according to Fah. He said Klook also works closely with internet giant Tencent Holdings by powering travel services on WeChat.
He added that an initial public offering for Klook, either in Hong Kong or the United States, was targeted before 2020, on the back of a healthy regional travel market helped by the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan.