Skift Take

Klook's rapid growth suggests that a growing number of Chinese and other Asian outbound travelers want to travel independently, instead of in groups, and thus book their activities a la carte. That portends a sea change in the travel industry.

This is likely the largest funding round for a tours and activities company to date.

Hong Kong-based travel activities booking platform Klook has completed a nearly $60 million Series C funding round.

Goldman Sachs joined as a new investor, co-leading the round with existing investors Sequoia Capital and Matrix Partners.

The $60 million round overtakes the previous record for investment in tours and activities site, namely GetYourGuide’s $50 million round, in 2015.

It was only in March that Klook raised a $30 million Series B led by Sequoia Capital China. The startup has raised $97 million to date.

Since that time, the website and mobile app have tripled the number of “travel activities and services” that it offers consumers. The company mostly covers Asia, though it technically has inventory in 120 destinations across the globe. It needs to build up its listings of tours, activities, and services in North America, Europe, and Australia.

Founded in 2014, the company said its pace of business has since sped up. It recorded over five million annual trips in 2016. But it said it had one million bookings in September 2017 alone, the company says.

Unlike competitor tours-and-activities products like GetYourGuide, Viator, and Peek, the Klook App includes local transit and has a broader range of inventory at major theme parks. It also focuses on using QR code e-vouchers to match the Asia-Pacific preference for that method of ticketing.

Fighting Group Travel Cliches

Klook’s inroads fly in the face of Western cliches about Asian travelers preferring group travel. The bulk of its young users in China, South Korea, Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia are independent travelers. The company also distributes activities to partners like Cathay Pacific and travel agencies for resale. It also powers some travel search on Tencent’s popular messaging platform WeChat.

Since March, Klook, a shorthand for “Keep Looking,” has doubled its staff to more than 400, who are located in 13 offices across Asia.

Stephanie Hui, head of the principal investment area at Goldman Sachs in Asia ex-Japan, said in a statement: “Our investment, together with the network and resources of Goldman Sachs, will help Klook further expand and provide services globally.”

Goldman Sach also recently invested in another Asia-based travel startup: FabHotels, a branded a budget hotel brand based in Gurgaon, India with more than 225 hotels in two dozen Indian cities. The firm led a $25 million Series B investment that was announced in July.

Eric Gnock Fah, co-founder and president of Klook, said the company would use some of the funding to apply machine learning to facilitate smarter search interfaces, such as visual and vocal search.

But the company has its work cut out for it. TripAdvisor-owned Viator, Expedia, and GetYourGuide remain the largest direct-to-consumer marketplaces for tours and activities. See Skift’s update on the tours-and-activities sector earlier this month.

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Tags: funding, Klook, tours and activities

Photo credit: Members of the Klook team share a meal together. Group activities like cooking classes and wine tastings are among the offerings of the tours-and-activities marketplace. Klook

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