Klook Defies Travel Slowdown, Raises US$200 Million Series E Funding

Klook Defies Travel Slowdown, Raises US$200 Million Series E Funding
Photo Credit: CNA

What you need to know

Travel booking startup Klook has raised a US$200 million Series E round to focus on staycations and digitize the tourism industry.

With countries keeping their borders shut, the outlook for the tourism sector appears grim. But in Asia, several travel tech startups are picking up fresh funding to adapt. Klook, one of these companies, has raised a US$200 million Series E round, bringing its total fund raised to US$720 million.

Aspex Management, an investment firm focusing on the Asia Pacific, led the round and existing investors like Softbank Vision and Sequoia Capital China also participated.

Early last year, Klook saw a 50% decline in revenue and later slashed 9% of its workforce in July, but the travel platform quickly shifted their focus to staycations and rebounded.

“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 Ethan Lin, Klook’s CEO and co-founder. “Instead, they are turning inwards — exploring new and unique experiences right in their backyard.”

In Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, where Covid-19 restrictions have eased, local people have been traveling domestically and the booking of leisure experiences has almost recovered to pre-Covid levels, Klook said.

Local activity providers are also turning to online platforms like Klook to meet the demand. At the height of the pandemic, the company recorded a 150% rise in the number of activities created on its platform, compared with the same period in 2019. 

Klook has developed software-as-a-service solutions to help activity providers across the world to open online stores and manage everything from ticketing, distribution, inventory management to marketing, but the new funding is a sign that further expansion awaits the company.

“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. 

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

Prior to the recent capital injection, Klook had raised more than US$500 million across five funding rounds since 2015. Founded in 2014, the company has passed US$1 billion valuation in 2018 after nabbing a US$200 million Series D round. It raised a US$225 million follow-on round last year.

The influx of capital has created an opportunity for the company to optimize existing products, especially staycation offerings. While exploring new possibilities in domestic travel, Lin said the company has been collecting feedback and refining their activity options before borders are open again.

During the pandemic, several travel startups in Asia have raised new funding as they focus on domestic activities. Last September, KKday, a Taipei-based travel booking startup, closed a US$75 million Series C led by Cool Japan Fund and the National Development Fund of Taiwan. 

The company said the funding will be used on developing Rezio, a booking management platform, to support tour operators and activity providers in Taiwan and Japan.

Traveloka, an Indonesian-based travel booking platform operating across Southeast Asia, also acquired US$250 million in funding last July to build what it describes as “a more robust and integrated Travel & Lifestyle portfolio” in key markets.

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TNL Editor: Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)

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