KKday has returned to growth thanks to domestic tourism in countries such as Taiwan and South Korea. Notably, these modern democracies have contact tracing programs that work, enabling domestic activities to recover during a pandemic.
KKday, a travel experiences booking agency based in Taipei, said Tuesday it had closed $75 million in new funding.
Cool Japan Fund and the National Development Fund led the round. Monk’s Hill Ventures, MindWorks Capital, and Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund also took part. KKday has disclosed raising more than $97 million to date.
The funding is remarkable, given that the tours and activities sector worldwide has suffered because of pandemic-related precautions.
Yet KKDay said it had seen a “surge” in demand for local experiences when authorities lifted restrictions on domestic trips in parts of Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong in recent months. Sales in Taiwan in July and August were five times the year-over-year volumes, and overall company sales could recover to last year’s levels by December, the company told Bloomberg News.
KKday operates in 11 offices across Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong. It has served more than 5 million people since its founding in 2014. The company competes with better-funded players Klook, a Hong Kong-based company that raised $225 million last year, GetYourGuide, the Berlin-based company that raised $484 million last year, and Viator, owned by Tripadvisor.
KKday led the others in offering white-labeled tours, like an experiences version of Amazon Basics products. The startup provides tour and activity operators with instant bookings in exchange for data about customer retention rates and reviews.
The startup uses the data to help market the experiences under its brand. KKday offers feedback to operators on improving the activities, and it heavily markets the branded activities in its search.
This dynamic results in higher sales in return for taking bigger commissions.
Chen Ming-ming, founder and CEO of KKday, has been a longtime travel sector entrepreneur. He founded in 2000 EzTravel, an online travel agency, which he sold to China’s online travel giant Ctrip. His other two travel businesses, Star Travel and Ezfly, went public.
KKday’s Software Play
KKday will use the funding to enhance its new software to help tour operators and activity providers manage their reservations. The company debuted the software, called Rezio, in March. The digital tools let operators open an online store, manage their ticket inventory across various agencies and other distribution points, create customized vouchers for special offers, and accept a wide array of payment types.
About 300 operators are using Rezio so far, including one of Japan’s largest travel agencies, H.I.S., which is also a strategic investor. Rezio has handled transactions for more than 150,000 travelers in its first six months. KKday is offering the software without a subscription charge for the first half-year of usage.
“We expect that they will leverage a wealth of experience in digitalizing the tourism industry and tap into the rise of independent traveling both in Japan and globally,” said Kazushi Sano, managing director of Cool Japan Fund, in a statement.
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Photo credit: A guest enjoys the New Taipei City Breeze Canal wakeboarding experience by the MS Water Ski Club, bookable via the agency KKday. The travel experiences booking agency KKday said Tuesday it had closed a $75 million Series C round of funding. New Taipei City Breeze Canal Wakeboarding Experience