Hong Kong-based travel booking platform Klook said on Monday that it secured USD 200 million in its Series E round, led by Aspex Management and joined by new investors, as well as existing backers including Sequoia Capital China, Softbank Vision Fund 1, Matrix Partners China, and Boyu Capital.
Klook was founded in 2014, at a time when Beijing-based Trip.com, known as Ctrip back then, invested in Tongcheng and Tuniu to dominate the online travel booking market in China. The platform offers tickets for popular attractions, tours, local transportation, as well as food and beverage in more than 400 destinations in countries such as China, Singapore, Indonesia, and Japan.
“We’ve observed over the past year that consumers have a pent-up desire to explore and enjoy themselves, despite international travel being paused,” said CEO and co-founder Ethan Lin. “Instead, they are turning inwards, exploring new and unique experiences right in their backyard.”
Klook has been focusing on “digitizing the experiences booking sector” and new verticals such as car rentals and staycations. Among other things, the company introduced a contact tracing system in the Philippines to allow for quicker identification and Knock Live, an interactive mobile livestream showcasing offerings of its merchants.
The company observed that bookings in key markets, including Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan where COVID-19 restrictions have eased, are closing in on pre-pandemic levels as locals spend domestically. It teamed up with the tourism boards in Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Singapore, and Thailand to diversify its products and cater to the local demand. Klook currently still has much fewer offerings in major cities on the Chinese mainland than Trip.com and Meituan, KrASIA found.
The industry is dusting itself off after a sharp decline in 2020. Trip.com reported net revenue of RMB 5.5 billion (USD 805 million) for the third quarter, a 48% decrease from the same period in 2019 although it said that the domestic business experienced a strong recovery due to the containment of COVID-19 in China.