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Travel e-commerce platform KKday closes US$75 million Series C funding despite tourism fallout

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This year, with travel restrictions and strict quarantine rules in place, COVID-19 has brought the tourism industry to a grinding halt. Despite the pandemic turmoil, KKday, a travel activities and services booking platform based in Taipei, announced last week it had secured US$75 million (NT$2.2 billion) in a Series C funding round led by the Japanese government’s Cool Japan Fund and the Taiwanese government’s National Development Fund, with participation from existing investors such as Singapore’s Monk’s Hill Ventures and Hong Kong’s Mindworks Capital.

KKday will utilize the new fund in its new booking management system targeting tourism suppliers called Rezio and in the expansion in Asia and globally.

Rezio, which began piloting in Taiwan and Japan this March, is inspired by the rapid rise of e-commerce since the pandemic.

“We believe that KKday’s strong execution and innovative mindset will drive the tourism industry in Japan even under adverse conditions,” Kazushi Sano, managing director of Cool Japan Fun, said in a statement.

“We expect that they (KKday) will leverage a wealth of experience in digitalizing the tourism industry and tap into the rise of independent traveling both in Japan and globally,” he added.

The SaaS system offers local tourism suppliers such as tour operators, experience providers, and car rental companies a one-stop platform where they can build a website, manage its inventory, create vouchers, accommodate different currencies, and organize bookings made from different websites. About 300 tourism suppliers in Japan and Taiwan have joined the system.

Apart from Rezio, KKday turns to data analytics to mitigate the financial risk brought by the pandemic. Currently, more than one-third of its profits come from the products launched during the epidemic. Additionally, the gross profit of the travel e-commerce platform in July has bounced back from the coronavirus slide.

“We were able to secure new funding because investors saw that we acted swiftly and that we were able to execute changes during a crisis. Taiwan’s domestic travel began to rebound in May, and it exploded in late June. We saw sales from domestic travel in Taiwan grow five times from the same period of last year in July and August,” Ming Chen, founder and CEO of KKday, told Taipei Times.

In light of the global trend for Staycation or domestic activities, KKday has been using its data analytics to avoid overbooking by finding a backup supplier in advance.

In 2019, KKday developed its own data-driven attribution (DDA) platform. Instead of tracking the customer’s last click, DDA follows and records the customer journey starting 30 days before he or she decides to make a purchase. The marketing tool can also recognize the user from different devices, and this helps the company create the most effective strategy.

Founded in 2014, KKday aims to offer authentic local tours and activities for travelers. Currently, KKday offers more than 30,000 travel experiences in over 550 cities and 92 countries. In March, the sales at KKday had plummeted 90%.

Another travel activities and services booking platform Klook had formed a US$1.47 million (NT$42 million) marketing partnership with Singapore Tourism Board in mid-September to boost Singapore’s tourism business