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Technology Featured Southeast Asia

Klook bags US$200m funding for SaaS-powered merchant solutions

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Travel and leisure booking platform Klook has successfully concluded its Series E round investment, led by investment fund Aspex Management. The recently concluded investment round has raised US$200M in additional funding, which will be used to develop Klook-powered merchant Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions.

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. 

“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,” said Ethan Lin, CEO, and co-founder at Klook (center).

He added, “This new capital further strengthens our leading position to take us from defense to offense, as domestic tourism becomes ubiquitous and international travel gradually returns.”

At the height of the pandemic, Klook onboarded 150% more activities compared to the same period in 2019. With this new capital, the company will accelerate the development and roll-out of its merchant SaaS solutions. Designed to bridge the gaps faced by merchants today, these tools will empower any merchant to build, manage, and scale their business with Klook.

“The travel industry has undoubtedly been hit hard by the pandemic, but Klook has shown resilience and adaptability despite the market headwinds. We believe the transition toward digital bookings will only accelerate post-COVID-19, and that Klook’s ability to reinvent itself as a one-stop-shop for experiences and services across the region puts it in prime position to capitalize on this trend,” said Hermes Li, CIO, and founder of Aspex Management.

Meanwhile, Eric Gnock Fah, COO, and co-founder at Klook (left) commented, “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. 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.”

He added, “With this new funding, we have additional ammunition to accelerate our technology innovation, and truly transform and empower this space for future growth.”

Klook has piloted several of its SaaS tools during the second of 2020 namely ‘Contact Tracing System’ which will be used to trace back clients should the need for tracing ensue, ‘Attractions Plus’ which creates an online itinerary for travel in one app, and ‘Klook! Live’ which is an interactive livestream mobile feature for merchants and users alike.

Categories
Marketing Featured APAC

Study shows Gen Zs in APAC are itching to travel with friends amid new normal

Hong Kong – Travel has been and is continuously being restricted in the name of safety precautions amid the pandemic, and people are raring to relish their wanderlust, where one of the top reasons is to be able to reconnect with friends. 

Across age brackets, Gen Zs in APAC feel the unhappiest about limited travel for social reconnect, with 85% in the region, according to a survey by travel and leisure booking platform Klook and marketing research firm YouGov. This was followed by Millennials in the region (86%), Gen Xs (81%), and Baby Boomers (77%).

Respondents across APAC were also found to used to use travel to make new friends, where more than half, or 60%, stated they resent not being able to do such in the middle of limited travel. Similarly, Gen Zs accounted for the majority of this group with 70%, which doesn’t come as a surprise with the generation known to value social currency the most.

The study also showed that people want to resume traveling to be able to “escape their from families.” Gen Zs and millennials feel strongly about this with 66% and 62% respectively, which can be attributed to months-long confinement with family members during lockdowns.

Due to lower confidence in traveling and stricter cross-border clearances, the study also found that people are extra careful in spending their vacation leaves at work. Respondents revealed they are having difficulty in using their annual leave or holiday breaks without feeling like they are “wasting it,” which is especially true for Gen Zs (73%) and Millennials (71%). 

Having unearthed such insights, Klook coins the term “Wanderlost,” which it refers to as the longing for travel. 

Its Vice President for APAC Marketing Marcus Yong said, “From wanderlust to wanderlost, people unmistakably miss traveling this 2020 and are keen to scratch that travel itch. Despite international travel restrictions, we can still easily remedy our ‘wanderlost symptoms’ with the endless things-to-do in our own backyard.”

Categories
Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

Klook’s food, travel offerings can now not only be read, but also watched through new feature Klook Live!

Hong Kong – Travel and leisure booking platform Klook officially unveils the newest feature on its app, an interactive livestream called Klook Live!.

While users on Klook have only been enticed of new food and travel offerings via images and text on the app, users will now be able to view up-close the offerings through interactive and instant video content on Klook Live!. 

The feature has been formally launched in August in five APAC markets Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines.

During this period, Klook released a series of hyper-localized content on Klook Live!, featuring offerings from food and dining to hotel staycation packages, where the five markets have reported a 4 times average uplift in conversion rates. This is compared to in-app conversion rates on an average day.

According to the brand’s data, in Thailand, a staycation surprise deal has been sold out in just eight minutes, while in Singapore, two out of three staycation bookings made within 24 hours were direct conversions as a result of the livestream. Both countries also experienced about a two times uplift in revenue compared to an average day. 

Meanwhile in Hong Kong, a number of food and dining exclusive deals were snapped up in less than five minutes. 

With the new feature, the brand aims to introduce traveltainment, to which it refers to as a new form of immersive content that elevates users’ ways of discovering and booking both local and overseas hospitality offerings.

“The pandemic has made users even more critical and discerning when making a purchase. With Klook Live!, we enable users to gain a more authentic look at our offerings, as well as directly ask questions in real-time before buying,” said Marcus Yong, vice president of APAC marketing

“Our early success demonstrates that users are increasingly demanding a new way to discover things-to-do, starting from their backyard. It also signals that users prefer a more entertaining, social, and personalized customer experience,” added Yong. 

During the livestream on Klook Live!, customers can interact directly with merchants, express their feelings through emoji and polls, redeem exclusive promo codes and check-out; all while watching a live episode.

According to the company, Klook Live! is designed to cater to the region’s growing demand for online video content on mobile devices. It refers to a study by digital research brand eMarketer, that over 1.2 billion Asia-Pacific users consume video content on their mobile devices in 2019, and that this is expected to increase by over 75% to 1.6 billion by 2023. 

The company also looks to leverage the forecast that video content is expected to be a norm post-pandemic as people consume more video content. According to a study by market research firm Globalwebindex, Gen Z respondents said that they expect their increased levels of consumption of social media, videos, and streaming services to continue even after the outbreak. 

On the merchant side, Klook is confident that the new feature will aid vendors in targeting their audience reach which has proven trickier amid the pandemic. 

“With international travel restrictions in place, merchants require creative platforms to showcase their offerings to local audiences and encourage them to support local businesses that depend on tourism. With Klook Live!, merchants of all sizes can bridge that gap and build stronger connections with local users, boosting brand awareness and sales,” the company said in a press statement.

In the coming weeks, Klook Live! will be rolling out more content and products, including episodic programs to unveil a new local carnival in Taiwan and indoor recreational parks in Malaysia among others

Klook Live! can be accessed by downloading the Klook app on Google Play or the App Store. 

Categories
Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

KidZania Kuala Lumpur appoints Klook as exclusive online travel agent

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – The Malaysia branch of indoor edutainment center KidZania has appointed Hong Kong-based travel and services booking platform Klook as its exclusive online travel agent (OTA) partner. This will be KidZania Kuala Lumpur’s very first appointment of an OTA partner.

The parties will be co-investing in initiatives to enhance and refresh visitors’ overall experience at the theme park as well as curate marketing and promotional activities. The collaboration also aims to reignite visitation demand following the country’s lockdown amid COVID-19.

In support of KidZania Kuala Lumpur’s mission to provide interactive and inspirational role-playing experiences for kids, Klook will be developing an interactive experience zone that would encourage kids to explore and be inspired by the journey of building a tech start-up. 

“Malaysians’ purchase behavior have shifted to booking their tickets online, especially with a leading OTA such as Klook, which provides a plethora of options for families looking for fun weekend activities. With this shift, we are confident that our partnership with Klook will result in a better customer experience overall by speeding up the entry process, especially with additional safety measures that we are taking such as temperature checking, ” said Shahrul Nizar Ahmad, Mayor of KidZania Kuala Lumpur.

Commenting on the partnership, Klook General Manager Chuan Sheng Soong for SEA said, “We are honored to be appointed as KidZania Kuala Lumpur’s first exclusive OTA partner, which signifies the trust in Klook’s ability to help drive visitorship to the center as well as enhance guests’ overall experience through Klook’s suite of merchant solutions. Our mission has always been to be an enabler for our merchants to reach new target audiences, increase their digital marketing capabilities and equip them with technology-enabled solutions.”

Meanwhile, Dato’ Dr. Ammar A. Ghapar, tourism Malaysia director of domestic & events division said that the government supports partnerships as such that help boost tourism.

“Tourism Malaysia encourages such strategic partnerships in the tourism industry which is in line with our post-COVID-19 domestic tourism initiative, and will further spur growth for the industry. We are honored to have witnessed this momentous event and look forward to more partnerships of this scale. Tourism Malaysia will lend our support to further promote this partnership via our marketing channels,” said Ghapar.

In celebration of the exclusive partnership, KidZania Kuala Lumpur and Klook will be offering a Buy One Free One promotional offer. The offer will be limited to the first 100 bookings on the Klook website or mobile app, which has already started in 17 September and onwards. 

Categories
Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

Singapore Tourism Board, Klook launch S$2m domestic marketing partnership

Singapore – The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and travel booking platform Klook have teamed up to launch a S$2 million domestic marketing partnership to drive the rediscovery of Singapore’s tourism and lifestyle offerings. The partnership is under the SingapoRediscovers campaign, and is inked to last seven months-long starting this September.

SingapoRediscovers is a recently launched campaign, spearheaded by agencies Enterprise Singapore (ESG), Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC), and Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to support the local lifestyle and tourism business in Singapore and encourage locals to explore different sides of the country. A total of S$45 million has been set aside for the campaign and its supporting marketing initiatives. 

The partnership with Klook will have three focus areas: curated promotions for products and experiences, content development, and digital marketing to boost spend.

Under the partnership, businesses – ranging from hotels and attractions to tour operators and dining establishments – will be encouraged to develop new products and experiences. The aim is to inspire locals and encourage them to explore precincts such as Orchard Road, Chinatown, Civic District, and Katong-Joo Chiat. 

These new products and experiences will also be curated into special bundles with attractive offers to appeal to different interest groups such as foodies, outdoor enthusiasts, and value seekers.  

An example would be pairing a stay at Mandarin Orchard Singapore with an Art Jam session in Orchard Road, or complementing a stay at Hotel Mono in Chinatown with a journey on Trishaw Uncle Guided Tours.

To encourage further exploration around the country, STB and Klook will collaborate on digital marketing efforts, where the parties look to create authentic stories through Klook’s pool of key content partners and opinion leaders. Digital content such as video reviews and livestreams will cast a spotlight on hidden gems and value-for-money promotions, as well as raise the profile of various home-grown businesses around Singapore.

Both parties will also co-invest in other digital marketing initiatives, such as search engine marketing, display, and social media advertising, to widen the reach and searchability of the various promotions and offerings under the campaign.

STB Assistant Chief Executive for Marketing Lynette Pang commented, “Through SingapoRediscovers, we encourage locals to explore Singapore, experience our vibrant tourism and lifestyle offerings, and support home-grown businesses. Klook shares the same aim. We look forward to leveraging their digital marketing capabilities and extensive network of partners to amplify our efforts, as well as encouraging their users to support curated local experiences, quality promotions, and content in the coming months.”

Meanwhile, Marcus Yong, vice president of marketing in Klook for APAC said, “Klook is excited to partner with STB and to be part of SingapoRediscovers. Our mission has always been to empower consumers to experience the best of a destination and through this partnership, we hope to bring back a sense of joy and adventure as locals explore their own backyard.”