Hong Kong-based travel services booking platform Klook has announced that it received USD 225 million financing in Series D+ led by Softbank Vision Fund which increases the company’s total Series D fundings to USD 425 million. The other investors of this round of financing are Sequoia China, TCV, OurCrowd and Matrix Partners. The transaction represents one of the largest in the travel services industry.
Founded in 2014, Klook currently has more than 1,000 employees in 20 offices around the world, and Klook's platform is currently supporting more than 10 languages, however, for the present, they only support Asian Languages since their customer base is Asians.
The company is furiously expanding its global footprints by several forms of cooperations in Australia, Europe and the United States. Klook wants more Europeans and North Americans to visit Asian countries using its platform.
However, after all, Klook's business has no barrier to entry; neither it has a technically-sophisticated product. Moreover, it will be considerably hard for Klook to sell its services to North Americans and Europeans because of the intense competition within the sector. The question is, how Klook could complete such a massive amount of financing as a 5 years old company from the eminent and wealthy investors such as Sequoia and Soft Bank?
According to the co-founder, Eric Gnock Fah, the underlying cause how Klook scaled so far so fast is thanks to the company's KOL (Key Opinion Leader) cooperation strategies together with their meticulous recruitment process and team characteristics. The company hires heavily by internal referrals to protect the company culture, and they focus on recruiting local citizens who had studied overseas to build a "glocal" employee and company culture.
KOL cooperation is an Asian way to grow bigger. A KOL is a person who has a massive amount of followers in social media platforms such as Instagram, Tik Tok so and so forth. KOL cooperation expansion may bring strong organic growth for any company with relatively cheap cooperation costs.
The latest funding will reportedly be used for business development. The company incessantly prepares for serving the inbound tourists to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo as well.
Yet, none of these might be enough to explain the massiveness of the latest round but the global tourism trends.
According to the United Nations 2018 Global Tourism Statistics; Asia&Pacific market is where the tourism industry will be re-benchmarked in the 21st century. Asia&Pasific has been travelled to more than the entire American continent, and the gap is widening.
China is the leading country in international tourism expenditures. If China's fast-paced enlarging and richening middle-class considered, China does not seem as it will lose this title for a long while. According to the Europen Commission of Schengen Visa, the number of Schengen Visa issued for Chinese citizens has jumped from 778,501 to 2,447,041 between 2010 and 2017.
From both inbound and outbound aspects, Asia's tourism sector is expanding and has a clear prospective near-future. Presumably, VCs have loosened the purse strings in the Series D with a macro-perspective for Klook's business.