From adventure junkie to travel entrepreneur

Ken Lau turned his passion into a business when he founded Adventoro, tapping on his dual role as adventure enthusiast and entrepreneur to solve the pain points of fellow travellers.

After checking eight of Malaysia’s 10 water rafting spots off his list and summiting Mt Kinabalu, Lau would in 2015 find his next big adventure in launching his own company, Adventoro Travel Technologies.

He then developed Adventoro, which went live in April 2017 as a portal for soft and hard adventure activities in Malaysia. To date, the portal lists over 500 activities, with the number continuing to grow as Lau teams up with more inbound agents and tour operators.

Much of the thought that went into the portal is based on Lau’s past experiences booking tours and activities online. He said: “I like doing detailed research online as I plan my itinerary. It took me six months of research when I was planning my itinerary to New York!

“What I find lacking on many online travel booking sites is information about the destination and the tours. Like any other (visiting) destination or experiencing an adventure (for the first time), they will always have questions while preparing for the trip,” he elaborated.

Lau tries to remove this pain point of users by incorporating detailed explanation of tours on the portal. Adventoro also offers concierge service, via email, telephone, WhatsApp and a web-based live chat for clients who have questions pre- or post-trip. All bookings also come with instant confirmation.

Going ahead, Lau wants to expand the business beyond Malaysian shores. He hopes to go regional by 1Q2018, but this all depends on getting the right suppliers.

His previous work experience has also proven useful, he told TTG Asia. He was formerly head of partnerships and offline marketing at e-retailer Zalora Malaysia. And at the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC), he served as acceleration director where his duties included mentoring and working with start-ups.

He revealed: “I used to mentor start-ups, but now I have started my own. It seems like I have gone through a cycle, but in reverse. If there is an important lesson I have learnt at Zalora, it is not to make assumptions and conclusions about the market. Always test the market through online campaigns, learn from it and move on. You’ll see us doing more of this in 2018.

“When we first started, I assumed clients were looking for half-day and one-day activities. I assumed gender would be balanced and the average client would be in their 30s and 40s. All these assumptions have proven false. Popular tours are three to five days, our clients are more males, and the average age of our clients are between 20 and 30.”

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