Klook, a service for finding and booking travel activities, has closed a $30 million Series B funding round led by Sequoia China. Existing backers Matrix Partners and Welight Capital, a firm founded by former Tencent executives, also took part.
This new money takes Hong Kong-based Klook to $36.5 million from investors to date. Last October, it closed a $5 million Series A round led by Matrix. The startups’ advisors include the managing director of Agoda North Asia and the former vice chairman of the planning and financial department of the China National Tourism Administration.
Unlike regular travel startups, Klook doesn’t manage flight or hotel bookings, it looks after the rest. It was founded in September 2014 as means to help the increasing number of Asia-to-Asia travelers find activities and things to do while they are overseas. The company said that today its service includes details of over 10,000 attractions, tours and general activities spanning 80 cities across Asia. It also gave out some pertinent business data for the first time. Last year, Klook helped users book five million trips — it clarified that the figure refers to two-way trips. We did ask about revenue and other financial details, but for now the company isn’t revealing those.
Operationally, Klook’s team has expanded to reach 200 staff while it has eight offices across Asia. Those local teams work with attraction and tour operators to source activities directly, thereby avoiding the hefty premium of booking through an agent to offer users a competitive price. It has also recently introduced services — such as local transfer options and WiFi device rental — that let users pick up travel essentials from inside the app. Klook co-founder and COO Eric Gnock Fah told TechCrunch in an interview that it would soon add options for restaurants, wellness, shopping and more.
“We’re moving towards being an in-destination service platform,” he said.
Beyond expanding into new verticals, which will presumably super charge monetization, Fah said Klook geographical extensions are planned. Klook plans to spend the year growing its reach to remaining major markets in Asia before looking to other parts of the world.
“Over the past few years we’ve basically nailed Asia’s supply chain,” he explained. “We will launch in Australia soon and then go full speed into Europe and North America.”
Those expansions are still designed to service Asia’s tourists — of which China is the dominant market — so it is activities that are suited to travelers from Asia. Initially, at least. But with the Tokyo Olympics on the horizon in 2020 — and the Winter Olympics taking place in Seoul next year — Fah anticipates that the company will need to cater to Western tourists visiting Asia sooner rather than later.
He’s also optimistic that the boom in inbound visitors to Asia will put Klook’s business in a good position.
“Some of the markets we’re are in are already reaching break even or profitable, so it’s just a case of getting into more markets,” he said. “Our IPO is always in the planning… the timeline we are looking at definitely before 2020. That’s mainly because of the Tokyo Olympics and next year’s Winter Olympics — you can imagine the travel trends over the next few years.”
A public listing might take place in the U.S. or Hong Kong, Fah offered, although those details are far from ironed out at this point. For one thing, he still anticipates that there “is likely to be at least one more round” of private funding before a move to the public markets. Still, with few startups exits in Asia — China aside — it is refreshing to hear a company committing its ambition to paper.
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