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Travel and Tourism

‘Digitizing’ travel empowers app to grow 5x despite pandemic 

Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo - Philstar.com
âDigitizingâ travel empowers app to grow 5x despite pandemic 
Influencers Dani Barretto (left) and Mimiyuuuh
Klook PH/Released

MANILA, Philippines — In this era of canceled flights, travel bans and closed borders, while many businesses shut down and many airlines were at the brink of bankruptcy, travel and leisure app Klook has managed not only to stay afloat, but also grow five times to its pre-pandemic scale. How is this possible?

“Travel tourism is one of hardest hit by the pandemic,” avered Klook Philippines General Manager Michelle Ho at a recent virtual press conference.

“We wouldn’t be able to anticipate how long the lockdowns are.”

The company, however, decided to turn lemons into lemonade by capitalizing on how COVID-19 changed travel and travelers’ emotions.

“During COVID, our impulse to travel disappeared… We craved for the happiness and senses of traveling,” Ho said.

As such, from being a platform for booking adventures and experiences, the app has pivoted to expand with new offers such as hotels and staycations, car rentals, attraction passes, workshops, cruises and services including COVID-19 testing, payment solutions, airport and ferry transfers, and travel-related insurance. The app claimed to be the first travel player with travel insurance. Likewise, the company sought new partner platforms like Flickket, Express Go!, Grab and Google.

As a result, the expansion has also broadened the app’s reach from 100,000 products pre-COVID to over 490,000 in 2021. Likewise, it reported to have doubled global travel presence to over 1,000 destinations in 2021 and surpassed 2019 revenue in 2021 on domestic travel alone, with monthly active users exceeding pre-COVID levels.

The company has consolidated one of the most extensive car rental inventory in the Asia Pacific, with over 350% year-on-year growth in car rentals 2021. 

With travel returning stronger than before with more countries opening up, the company has expanded even more with new services such as travel guides, Stay+ that allows customers to purchase room-only offers at competitive rates with bundled experiences, including attractions, local tours, in-hotel services, and more; and Pass, an exclusive all-in-one digital pass aiming to customers with savings and convenience.

"We are hopeful that travel in the Philippines and across the world will return in full force soon,” said Ho. “The rebrand is our commitment to inspire and enable more moments of joy, as we reimagine the way we travel in this new environment.”

RELATED: Investing in ‘nanays’ helps Tagaytay business grow despite pandemic

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