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Klook Travel start-up raises $200m to go global

SAN FRANCISCO: Klook Travel Technology Ltd, a Hong Kong-based start-up that books activities for travellers, has raised $200 million (Dh734 million) from investors including Sequoia Capital China and Goldman Sachs, boosting the company’s expansion in the US and Europe and its ability to compete with Airbnb Inc.

The new financing brings Klook’s total funding raised to about $300 million. Other investors in the round include TCV, Matrix Partners and Boyu Capital. Founded in 2014, Klook is now valued at more than $1 billion. The start-up allows travellers to discover and book tours, local transportation and food in more than 200 locations. It’s estimating close to $1 billion in bookings this year.

Klook, which first rolled out in Asia, competes with a growing number of companies that target people trying to plan travel experiences, including Airbnb, Viator Inc. and Expedia Inc. Since its founding as a short-term rental company in 2008, Airbnb has been expanding into more services to become more like a full-service travel-booking company.

“Klook is the category leader in Asia, so we felt strongly about their capabilities in Asia and their abilities to expand through their Asian customer base,” said David Yuan, general partner at growth equity firm TCV, which has also invested in TripAdvisor Inc. and Facebook Inc. “It’s a big category and it’s a really attractive one.”

The start-up counts more than 16 million monthly visits to its website and mobile app. One of Klook’s biggest growth drivers is helping Chinese tourists travel to other parts of Asia. When it rolls out in new markets in Europe and the US, the company will start by helping its core Asian customer base to find travel destinations in those regions, Yuan said.

This article first appeared on GulfNews.com