The pandemic has limited travel restrictions globally, putting many travel-related businesses out of work, dampening Hong Kong’s tourism-strong city with a 99% downfall in international visits. Klook, a SoftBank and Sequoia-backed unicorn travel and leisure booking platform took a hard hit being fully dependent on the travel industry. With over 30 million monthly users a month originating from APAC seeking for cross-border travel solutions, Klook curates travel experiences and offers the ease of experience for its consumers.
The situation prompted Klook to think outside of the box and jump onto the livestreaming bandwagon, a solution that many businesses – especially retailers – have turned towards to, but was more significant for the online travel-based platform. Debuting ‘Klook Live!’, the platform forges new cross-industry partnerships by hiring on popular local influencers to host livestreams with merchant partners. The aim was to create meaningful and relevant content by providing useful tips and storytelling to their consumers awaiting to travel. Livestreaming commerce took off in Asia with a user uptick led by the pandemic, and the world followed suit.
Since launching Klook Live!, the platform piloted a series of livestreaming content featuring offerings from food and dining to hotel staycation packages, seeing average uplift in conversion rates grow fourfold – such as the case in Hong Kong, receiving over 15,000 views with over 300,000 interactions, and a change in consumer segment. “The younger millennials are still our bread and butter, those who are actually keener to like new forms of engagement,” says Eric Gnock Fah, COO and co-founder of Klook. COVID has not only prompted businesses to undergo a transformation, but the platform also saw the rapid adoption of technology by older consumers whom still craved for a one-to-one interaction which was found through the interactive nature of livestreaming. “Our approach is hyper-localized and it boils down to what fits our markets best. The great thing about this is that we have an innate understanding of our partners’ needs, as well as what makes our audience tick”, asserted Gnock Fah.
In launching its livestream, Klook took on a new position as the mediator to bring on board traditional merchants that were not as flexible moving online into the digital realm. Such as the case for Japanese kitchenware brand Bruno – famous for their compact hotplates that had a boost in popularity over the recent months as Hong Kongers took on a new habit of cooking during quarantine. Its exquisite and retro ceramic design captured the Hong Kong young female segment for its dainty appearance, thus selling over 10,000 units on average per year. “Some of the brands that we’ve worked with, like Bruno, are very traditional and are focused on their own product – which is what they really should be doing – but they’re not as savvy moving online digitally. And that’s where we come in and help them capture their audience through a different form of engagement” shares Gnock Faah.
Meanwhile, livestreams add value and is a relatively new innovation in the market, providing a unique way of shopping especially for the older demographics and conventional businesses. Klook paired together Bruno’s hotplate with a hotel stay at Singapore’s M Hotel as part of Klook’s 6th birthday celebration package. The platform also worked with Taiwan’s Starlux airline in its innovative offering ‘flight to nowhere’ but also providing a 25% off voucher for in-flight duty-free items, revitalising airport and duty-free sales. The 188 seats sold out in less than five minutes and are already planning its fifth flight.
Apart from merchants, Klook also works with homegrown brands particularly in the Philippines and Malaysia where lockdowns had shaken up local businesses. The platform waived commission charges at the beginning, which repaid itself as small businesses were sold onto the livestream initiative, generating a meaningful uplift in conversion for bookings soon after.
The Future of Travel
“Livestream is definitively here to stay, I think livestream will evolve” claims Gnock Faah. Currently managed in-house by Klook, the platform plans to further bring in influencers and merchants together to support them in building this new form of engagement. “Livestream nowadays doesn’t really require to be too fancy; you can just do it at home or during an experience” he adds. The brand plans to further launch Klook Live! In Malaysia, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand and U.K. markets later in the year.
From the data collected over time, Klook has been able to draw insights to help hoteliers and businesses to design better packages to increase purchase intention and conversion. Gift cards will also be the next product Klook plans to release, “More people are looking at experiences, even moreso with a hotel nowadays. With staycation, it’s not just about the room and the bed, it’s actually about the whole experience” claims Gnock Fah.
In recent years, hotels have been stepping out of the box and reinventing itself through cross-industry collaborations, predominantly with fashion labels such as Muji’s own hotel chain where every item within is shoppable. The staycation trend sprouted an opportunity for hotel rooms in inadvertently becoming a showroom for brands with great exposure for its products. The shoppable nature of these hotel rooms works hand in hand with a platform like Klook, bringing together merchants and hotels together in elevating the staycation experience – as seen with yet another successful run of Bruno’s collaboration with meal kit label Prego, and Hotel Fairmont Singapore.