Travel and leisure booking platform Klook announced today (Jan 26) that it has raised US$200 million additional funding for its Series E round.
The round was led by Aspex Management, an investment fund focused on Asia Pacific.
Some existing investors including Sequoia Capital China, Softbank Vision Fund 1, Matrix Partners China and Boyu Capital also joined this round, in addition to new investors.
Klook said that the new capital will be used to accelerate the development of SaaS solutions and digital transformation for its merchants. These tools will empower any merchant to build, manage, and scale their business with Klook.
Today, Klook’s merchant SaaS solutions power millions of bookings for more than 2,500 merchants worldwide.
Doubling down on its SaaS solutions will enable even more merchants who have had a challenging year to transform and accelerate their business by easily creating an online storefront powered by Klook.
This is supported by a backend engine that manages ticketing, distribution, inventory management, marketing and more.
Klook said that it has seen merchants in such markets who are eager to digitise their business. At the height of the pandemic, it onboarded 150 per cent more activities compared to the same period in 2019.
“We are setting out to reimagine the next digital leap for the experiences sector which has traditionally been fragmented with offline practices or legacy systems that do not truly address the realities of a post-COVID world,” said Eric Gnock Fah, COO and co-founder of Klook.
“Since day one, Klook has been working closely with our merchants, both big and small, to identify common pain points that we can solve together. With this new funding, we have additional ammunition to accelerate our technology innovation, and truly transform and empower this space for future growth.”
Hermes Li, CIO and founder of Aspex Management, believes that the transition towards digital booking will only accelerate post-COVID-19.
“Klook’s ability to reinvent itself as a one-stop-shop for experiences and services across the region puts it in a prime position to capitalise on this trend,” he added.
How Klook Adapted To COVID-19
In April last year, Klook announced measures such as layoffs to cut costs amid the pandemic.
In addition, all three of the company’s co-founders told TTG Asia that they will be foregoing their pay until this Covid-19 crisis blows over. Its leadership team also took voluntary pay cuts and the firm implemented a temporarily reduced work week.
Klook co-founder and CEO Ethan Lin said then that their business has been badly impacted by the travel restrictions, hence these “painful decisions” had to be made for them to survive and recover.
During the past year however, Klook has quickly reprioritised its core strategic strengths to tackle COVID-19’s impact on the business.
The company focused on two main areas: digitising the experiences booking sectors, and launching new verticals such as staycations and car rental.
In the second half of 2020, Klook piloted a series of tools. The first of which is a contact tracing system that has been rolled out across partners’ local attractions in the Philippines.
It also developed an Attractions Plus module that allows customers of attractions and major establishments to access content such as an in-park map, what to eat, and recommended itineraries in a single app.
It also introduced an interactive livestream mobile feature called Klook Live!. Early results observed four times the average uplift in conversion rates.
According to Klook, key markets where COVID-19 restrictions have eased such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, have witnessed increased spending on local experiences, with bookings reaching near pre-COVID levels as locals start exploring domestically.
In September last year, Klook inked a S$2 million partnership with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to encourage locals to explore and experience a “different side of Singapore.”
This partnership falls under the S$45 million SingapoRediscovers campaign which aims to promote local tourism and lifestyle offerings.
With the lack of overseas travel, Singapore has experienced a significant fall in tourism revenue. This is why Singaporeans are encouraged to take a local holiday, dubbed as “Singapoliday”, to boost local business and the economy.
Regionally, Klook has also established partnerships with other tourism boards such as the Hong Kong Tourism Board, Japan National Tourism Organization, Korea Tourism Organization, and the Tourism Authority of Thailand to help diversify offerings and to grow demand domestically.
As domestic tourism becomes ubiquitous and international travel gradually returns, Lin is confident that the new capital will help take them “from defense to offense.”
Despite a challenging 2020, we have shown our mettle, turning challenges into growth opportunities with agility and constant innovation.
We’ve observed over the past year that consumers have a pent-up desire to explore and enjoy themselves, despite international travel being paused. Instead, they are turning inwards — exploring new and unique experiences right in their backyard.– Ethan Lin, CEO and co-founder of Klook
Featured Image Credit: Klook