Meet Klook, WYSE Travel Confederation’s newest Elite Member
Founded in 2014, Klook is a world leading travel activities and services booking platform. The company works with more than 10,000 industry partners who collectively provide 100,000+ travel experiences. With a team of more than 1,500 across over 20 offices worldwide, Klook’s services are available in nine languages, supporting 41 currencies. The company has raised over USD 520 million in investment since its founding and is active in Asia with recent expansions into Australia, Europe and the USA.
We spoke with Matt Cuckston, Klook’s European Director, about being millennial-centric, becoming a super app, traveller safety, and how WYSE Travel Confederation will help to connect them to operators specialised in the youth travel space.
You can also catch Matt at this year’s World Youth and Student Travel Conference (WYSTC) in Lisbon where he’ll discuss rising to the challenge of digitising the tours, activities and in-destination travel space.
Klook is short for “keep looking” – a seemingly logical name for an online marketplace. How did the name come about and eventually stick?
You’re absolutely right!
The name was inspired by the mantra to “keep looking” and today, the business provides travellers with a seamless way to discover and book attractions, tours, local transportation, food & beverage, and unique experiences around the world on its website and award-winning app.
The idea of Klook started in 2013 when co-founders Eric and Ethan went on a trip to Nepal. During the trip, they faced all sorts of challenges and frustrations from large excel sheets for comparing tour activities and prices, to carrying large amounts of cash to pay for local tour operators. That experience inspired the idea of Klook and how they could make an impact by empowering any traveller to discover, book and experience the best things to do anywhere, anytime.
As a company working with more than 8,000 merchants who are providing more than 100,000 experiences and travel products – how are you different from your competitors?
Well, for starters, we are a full-service in-destination booking platform with the vision to provide the best of any destination to meet the changing needs of the modern traveller. We study comprehensive user feedback and trends to determine relevant products that would resonate with our users. Beyond attractions and local tours, we also provide offerings such as Wi-fi connectivity, airport transits, rail passes, and even local cuisines. This comprehensive approach along with our innovative technology sets us apart.
We are mobile-first and that approach has been a key factor contributing to our robust growth over the last five years. In fact, 75% of our bookings are made on mobile devices and over 90% of our offerings can be instantly confirmed. As the pioneer of applying cutting-edge mobile-first technology to the in-destination sector, we hope to replicate our strong growth in Asia-Pacific to Europe.
As a very young, mobile-first travel tech company with unicorn status in what is probably the quickest-growing sector of the travel and tourism industry what is Klook’s most important success to date?
In five years, we have helped transform booking behaviour from legacy pen and paper to on-demand digital confirmations for travel operators and travellers around the world.
Before Klook, online booking systems and global marketing campaigns were far beyond the reach of “mom and pop” operators. Today, we have helped tens of thousands of businesses attract more customers from around the world by delivering an on-the-go mobile platform for both sides of the market. By removing language barriers, bringing price transparency and making payments safe and easy, Klook’s building a connected, friction-less ecosystem that’s opening tremendous new opportunities for the in-destination travel industry.
How do you expect your membership with WYSE Travel Confederation contribute to advancing your business objectives?
Through WYSE Travel Confederation’s different events and research, we expect to further collaborate with other WYSE members who share similar views in promoting the youth travel industry. This also aligns with Klook’s mission – empowering travellers around the world to discover, book and experience the best things to do anywhere, anytime. We believe WYSE will be the perfect partner for us to exchange ideas with different members about the unique and fast-changing travel interests of millennials.
Is Klook on the path to building “the world’s number 1 super app for all in-destination needs”?
It is our vision to bring the world closer together by connecting travellers with the best of any destination and we are committed to mobilising and uniting the fragmented global in-destination travel sector. We are working closely with industry partners to digitise and diversify travel offerings for travellers.
What should travellers and your partners in destination expect in the near future?
Travellers can expect to find a full range of in-destination travel services on Klook, and book them seamlessly with just a few clicks via Klook’s website or app. Klook will continue to work on digitising in-destination supply through innovative travel operator solutions as well as partnering with key players to better serve travellers’ growing demands.
Currently Klook offers transportation services, car rental, and rail passes alongside your core inventory of in-destination activities, attractions and experiences. Will flights, accommodation or insurance become part of Klook’s path to becoming a travel super app?
While we do not have any announcements at the moment, we’re constantly looking at new avenues to help empower travellers to enjoy the best travel experience everywhere they go.
Klook has been referred to as ‘millennial-centric’ as far as its business model. Are there particular trends in the 18 to 30 travel market that the company is acting on or catering to particularly well?
We do see more millennial travellers taking a “go-with-the-flow” approach instead of hyper-scheduled days and booking in advance. Klook’s instant confirmations and QR code mobile redemption have made it easier than ever before for travellers to enjoy local experiences and in-destination activities. 75% of our bookings are now made on mobile while 90% of our bookings are confirmed instantly.
Millennial travellers are also big on sharing their travel experiences and photos on social media, triggering wanderlust and even FOMO from their peers. Experiences deemed as “insta-worthy activities” have done very well on our platform and are well-received among millennials.
Additionally, with our user-friendly interfaces, infographics and tailormade destination guides, we have also simplified complicated travel information involved with booking transportation services like Europe Rail and Japan Rail.
Earlier this year, TripAdvisor added safety-related content and functionality for travellers. Does Klook provide anything similar that facilitates or ensures the safety of travellers?
The safety and well-being of our customers is our top priority and we have dedicated teams that screen the travel operators that we bring on. In addition to monitoring user feedback, we conduct frequent quality checks with our partners to not only ensure the quality of the service but also that our customers’ safety is always paramount.
Klook recently announced major partnerships with Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts and Rail Europe – what are the key strengths that you bring to the table in terms of partnerships and what do you look for in return from potential partners?
We believe what makes Klook the perfect partner with different industry players is twofold: Klook’s rapidly growing user base and the extensive reach of travellers, and our commitment to helping partners go digital.
With Asia being one of the fastest-growing tourism markets, we help connect our strong base of travellers from the region to our partners’ services – driving demand and creating more opportunities for them. Our travel operator solutions alleviate the pain and expense of developing customised online booking systems and enable partners to focus their efforts on enhancing their core services. We value and are open to exploring different forms of collaboration. We look for potential partners that share a common vision of building a more seamless and frictionless travel ecosystem.
Are there current industry challenges that are unique to your company? Are there specific ways that WYSE Travel Confederation can help with these?
The supply of in-destination travel remains extremely fragmented, as travel operators either lack the technical expertise or significant capital previously required to digitise their businesses. Klook is dedicated to digitising the ecosystem and is working towards addressing this with technology.
Joining WYSE Travel Confederation is valuable for us. WYSE represents the entire youth, student and educational travel industry, and through WYSE we will have the opportunity to learn more about this market. It can help us better navigate and engage with operators specializing in this market, and find meaningful ways of collaboration.
Meet Klook at the World Youth and Student Travel Conference (WYSTC) in Lisbon 8-11 October 2019
Founded in 2014, Klook is a world leading travel activities and services booking platform. Klook gives travelers a seamless way to discover and book popular attractions, tours, local transportation, best foods, and unique experiences around the world on its website and award-winning app (consecutive Best of Year awarded by Google Play and Apple App Store). With Klook’s innovative technologies, travelers can book on-the-go and redeem the services by using QR codes or e-voucher. Each day, Klook empowers countless travelers to indulge in their wanderlust and spontaneity through over 100,000 offerings in more than 270 destinations.
With a team of more than 1,400 across over 20 offices worldwide, Klook’s services are available in nine languages, supporting 41 currencies. It has raised over US$520 million investment from world-renowned investors including Sequoia Capital, Softbank Vision Fund, Matrix Partners, Goldman Sachs, and TCV. Get inspired by Klook at www.klook.com, the company blog or @Klook.
Membership: WYSE Travel Confederation Elite Member
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