Fast-growing OTA Klook has unveiled an ambitious global expansion plan as it marks its fifth anniversary last week.
Klook currently offers over 100,000 things-to-do and services in more than 350 destinations through direct partnerships with local operators. It claims to be the most-searched travel activities and services company globally on Google since October 2018, and is expected to surpass 60 million annual trip bookings by this year.
Klook’s CEO and co-founder, Ethan Lin, said: “When we started the business five years ago, we faced a major roadblock due to the fragmentation of in-destination travel services. We’ve not only overcome the challenge, but also transformed the sector in the process through innovative digital solutions, collaboration with local tourism authorities, championing talents who share our vision, and empowering operators for a healthier and more diverse local tourism ecosystem.”
The company expects to expand its current workforce from 1,200 to over 2,500 across 30 offices by end 2020, as well as expand its global footprint by deepening its roots in Asia-Pacific and accelerating growth for European markets.
With its first few European outposts already set up in 2019, Klook aims to better serve European travellers with multiple languages, including French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, and German launching in the coming months.
Klook plans to innovate and elevate the digitisation of in-destination supply by optimising its operational procedures from booking and redemption to post-experience reviews. It also aims to equip individual operators with connectivity to AI-powered voice assistants including Actions on Google.
In addition to its current engineering hub in Shenzhen, Klook will expand its innovation capabilities to Singapore, with a focus on adopting connectivity integration and data science in the immediate future. Drawing from the rich pool of tech talents in South-east Asia, this dual-hub will allow Klook to glean more behavioural insights through data analytics to improve the experience for both customers and merchants.
As smooth and efficient transit is a key priority for modern travellers, Klook has introduced a standalone rail interface with easy-to-use and mobile-friendly features. Integral to its expansion plans in the transit sector, Klook aims to launch point-to-point train tickets and sought-after passes for the world’s major rail networks. Just last week, Klook launched China Rail on its platform, marking an important milestone for the company’s ongoing efforts to digitise complex rail systems.
As Japan is home to many of Klook’s popular destinations such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, Klook has collaborated with local Japanese operators to increase its roster of attractions and things to do outside of the Tokyo metropolitan area by 600 per cent since 2016, including day tours to nearby attractions and cities including Mt Fuji, Hakone and Kamakura.
Most recently, Klook have formed a strategic partnership with West Japan Railway Company (JR-West) to attract South-east Asia’s growing FITs to western Japan, as part of its efforts to deepen key partnerships and diversify offerings in the country ahead of the 2020 global sporting event in Tokyo.
Tapping into the region’s vast opportunities, the two companies will collaborate to enhance the variety of travel activities, covering cities like Osaka, Hiroshima, Okayama, and more. The partnership caters to travellers’ growing desire to explore the country by rail and further boosts tourism in western Japan.