Klook is an online travel booking platform designed to connect tourists and leisure travelers with popular attractions and destinations in various countries. The company focuses primarily on tourism, but has significantly diversified its operations to other sectors as well.
Klook was founded in 2014 by Bernie Xiaokang Xiong, Eric Gnock Fah, Ethan Lin and is based out of Central, Hong Kong Island in Hong Kong with two tech hubs in Singapore and Shenzhen, China. The name, derived from ‘Keep Looking’, is apt for a platform that connects travelers with various activities and experiences, allowing them to find and book trips all over the globe. The vast catalogue of Klook covers over a hundred thousand different experiences across various destinations across the world. Though it is a global platform, a significant amount of its business is focused on the various tourist spots of Asia.
Unlike airlines and transportation, the actual bookings for tourism destinations and activities are yet to be dominated by online companies. The in-destination tourism sector is dominated mainly by small local operators, who mostly utilize word of mouth for marketing and offer offline bookings only. This generates only minimal buzz, and not the wide popularity for attracting more tourists.
Klook aims to penetrate this market, helping users to find these destinations and promoting these activities to tourists. The platform, which has a website as well as an app, is dedicated to recommending trips and vacation spots across the globe for tourists. They have provided travel operators with online booking as well as redemption facilities, generating traffic from travelers and tourists looking for destinations online.
Klook helps domestic travel operators gain global exposure via their online platform. While it helps the smallest players, the company as a whole is still a worldwide operation which requires top tier digital infrastructure and support. They operate on AWS Cloud platform for scalability and reliability. This helps them handle large volumes of recommendations, transactions and visits regularly. They also utilize their platform to help travelers book on the go and redeem services using QR code vouchers, completely digitizing the booking process
The Hong Kong based platform has enjoyed massive support from investors, gathering over $720 million in funding across 7 investment rounds. They are supported by giants like Sequoia Capital China, Boyu Capital, SoftBank Vision Fund, and others. Their most recent investment round was their Series E round announced in January 2021 led by Aspex Management, generating $200 Million in capital. The company aims to use this money to penetrate the western market, as well as diversify their operations.
COVID-19 has had a negative impact on the travel sector due to the lockdowns imposed around the world. International travels dipped to a minimum, and even local travels were restricted for a large period of time. During this phase, Klook has streamlined their workforce by temporary leaves or headcount reduction and has also diversified its business. In April 2020, they announced their entry into the food delivery sector in Malaysia during the Movement Control Order(MCO) period.
Its latest round of funding shows good signs for the company. The investors continue to support them heavily, and the ease in restrictions for many places as well as the vaccine has allowed them to operate better. Like most travel operators, they aim to focus more on local travels while diversifying their businesses.