【E-Commerce】Taiwan online travel agency embarks on HK market
Taiwan-based online travel agency (OTA) KKday entered Hong Kong two months ago to tap the potential of the city’s tourism market by offering localized and individualized tours. Instead of air ticket and accommodation booking, KKday is seeking to provide customers with a unique customized travel experience. Hong Kong customers preferred the convenience of online shopping and “the uniqueness of personal travel experience”, said KKday’s CEO Chen Ming Ming.
Caption: KKday’s Hong Kong branch
KKday’s customers can pick up individual tourism attractions they want to visit on the website instead of accepting a whole package that travel agencies assign to them. For example, if customers are going to Paris, they can choose “one-day boat trip to Seine River”, “half-day visit to Palais Garnier”, “three-hour class on cooking French food” and add them together.
“KKday’s operation is different from traditional agencies, which seldom provide customized tours to meet the need of each traveler,” said Rebecca Leung, KKday’s Regional Manager in Hong Kong.
Traditional travel agency: a different operation
Facing challenges from online travel agencies, traditional travel agencies are also setting up websites. One of Hong Kong’s largest travel company EGL (6882) built a platform allowing customers to search its tours and place orders online. Other main players like Hong Thai Travel Services and Wing On Travel have all products shown online, but for some routes, customers still need to book at retail stores.
Decades of offline operations have won these travel agencies the fame among local customers while the newly set-up KKday is at the very early stage of building up its reputation and credibility.
KKday hopes the customized itineraries for customers can distinguish it from traditional agencies. “They rarely provide in-depth or customized tours like us,” said Leung.
KKday’s Hong Kong branch started with ten people, who were fully occupied by marketing campaign. The company only provides services online without physical stores.
In the meantime, going to physical stores remains the most common way for Hong Kong people to book a trip. “Some customers may worry about the safety of their personal information especially when they use credit cards to book the trip online,” said Sam Tai, a travel consultant of Wing On Travel, one of the local traditional travel agencies. “Hong Kong customers get used to go to branches where they can get services face-to-face.”
Caption: With website operating, offline branches still welcome customers
Photo by YAO Yuxin
“I prefer traditional travel agencies when travelling with my family members, as no one need to plan for the trip,” said Lillian Wong, a fresh graduate from university, “but when travelling with friends, I would depend on websites like KKday, because of the uniqueness of the tours.”
Caption: The 7th floor of Citylink, Shatin is mostly occupied by travel agencies.
Photo by YAO Yuxin
Local OTA: similar operation, different focuses
Hong Kong, with a population of 7 million, attracts OTAs from different regions. Mainland agent Ctrip and US-based Expedia provide comprehensive package tourism services including tickets, hotels and tours booking. Travel experience platforms KKday and local player Klook both focus on customized itineraries.
KKday provides 6,000 customized tours, along with pocket Wi-Fi rental and airport transportation. The long trips to America and Europe, like hot-air balloon ride in Orlando and tour to Troy City in Istanbul make up the deficiency of long-distance individualized tours in local OTA market.
|Found place||Taiwan||Hong Kong|
|No. of cities covered||174||About 43|
|Continents covered||Asia; Europe; North America; South America; Africa; Oceania||Asia|
Caption: Comparisons between KKday and Klook
Resource: Official websites and interview
“We see Klook as one of our major competitors,” said Leung, “but we think the competition is healthy as it can offer customers with more choices. They provide discounted tickets and we have long-distant travelling plans. ”
Both KKday and Klook got funding from venture capitalists and angel investors, like AppWorks Ventures, Matrix Partners China and Francs Leung.
The potential of online tour booking market seems to be great. Chen said in July that KKday’s revenue had experienced a monthly compound increase of 30 per cent since it started business in January 2014. The startup generated revenues of HK$7 million in January 2016 alone.
As an OTA, Klook set up mobile App to attract more customers, taking convenience into consideration. KKday depends solely on website and “does not intend to develop an App at this moment,” according to Leung, “we think traveling is not a daily stuff. This indicates that customers may delete the app as they do not use it very often.”
While KKday pays little attention to mainland, Klook has started to cooperate with mainland e-giant Tencent for promotion, trying to get into the market with a rather huge population.
Reporting by YAO Yuxin, editing by YANG Shutong
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