Hong Kong based travel activities startup Klook.com had recently secured $1.5 million seed round from new investors Shuren Hu and Tencent’s senior vice president Wu Xiaoguang. To in-bound & out-bound travellers visit most countries in APAC, Klook presents diverse travel experiences at discounted rates. So you could get anything from an exclusively priced ticket to Disneyland or a discounted ticket to Singapore flyer.
While Klook has been primarily focussing on inbound travellers, we believe that it also presents a wide range of options to outbound travellers visiting the countries covered by Klook. Our founding partner, Daksh Sharma caught-up with Klook’s co-founder at the RISE Conference for a quick chat on the startup’s journey and the road ahead.
Excerpts from our conversation with Eric.
What inspired you guys to start Klook?
The founding team are avid travelers, despite we were in busy in banking jobs. We would spontaneously plan getaways once we have a chance by booking flights and hotels easily online…but we soon realized that the most time consuming is actually looking for things-to-do at the best value. If we planned ahead to research – it takes a lot of time. If we are spontaneous in booking when we are at the destination, we often felt getting overcharged by local travel agents. The idea came to start a venture that will facilitate discovery + booking of things-to-do whether you’re planning before departure or when you’re at the destination with mobile app along with instant confirmation and exclusive deals.
For a startup that’s just about a year old and operates from Hong Kong how challenging is it to manage expectations of travellers across South East Asia?
All of the operators we work with are the best ones carefully sourced by our team of travel curators – making sure they deliver high quality services. At the same time, we have a full fledged customer service team to support.
You had secured $1.5 million investment some months back. How are the funds being utilized as of now.
We are really just starting to use the funds as Klook has been growing organically without much marketing spend. Going forward, we would invest more in technology as well as marketing campaigns. Many travel brands and local attractions are eager to collaborate with Klook in co-marketing as we bring them “social capital” with our excellent original content creation.
Who are your active competitors?
Certainly Tripadvisor is one of the major competitor after their acquisition of Viator. But given online / mobile booking penetration rate is still so low (at less than 8%), we find that more players in the industry actually help educate the market that activities CAN be booked online / mobile.
Which are the most popular cities/activities on Klook?
As Klook launched Hong Kong, Singapore and Macau as the first 3 cities back in Sep-2014 – these are the most popular right now. But we are also seeing fast ramp up of Japan, Thailand and Taiwan.
Generally what’s the trend you see – Is it more inbound traffic or outbound international traveller traffic that you see on Klook?
We focus more on inbound traffic and we see that as our unique positioning given the fact that Klook platform is designed and catered for both native English and Chinese-speaking travelers, which we believe capture 80% of the travel market.
Tell us some of the growth challenges that you foresee at Klook.
Similar to many travel companies, maintaining reasonable user acquisition cost is tricky. However, we are glad to have cracked it. Having quickly established as a leading voice in travel, Klook is able to join forces with many leading lifestyle / travel brands to collaborate.
Do you have any plans for geographic expansion in the coming months?
We plan to cover remaining destinations in Asia Pacific by end of the year.
How is the startup ecosystem in Hong Kong and what are your future funding plans.
Ecosystem is definitely catching up in Hong Kong as investors start to see a handful of successful cases. Many people argue that Hong Kong market is too small, which is indeed true but it has its own advantages for some specific sectors such as logistics, fintech, travel – which have always been Hong Kong’s core competencies. For example, Hong Kong is the No.1 most traveled city in the world, which makes a lot of sense for a homegrown travel company to successfully emerge into a global brand.