Innovation in the Tourism Industry – Shared by “Klook” and “Let’s Roll Out”
Travel has now become one of the indicators of the quality of life. Currently, statistic shows there are over 220 million visitors per year in the Great Asia, especially the growth of backpackers who prefer to plan their own personalized travel schedules by themselves. Since many startups have spotted the huge market potential in the tourism industry, the next question for them is to figure the proper service to enter into this market, and to satisfy the needs of those travelers.
The forum “New Life, New Travel Era – Innovation of the Tourism Industry” was held in Taoyuan. The event invited two young entrepreneurs, Sharon Hsu from Let’s Roll Out and Liu Kuang-Hung from Klook to share about their experiences on installing innovative ideas into the traditional tourism industry.
Forethoughts for Consumers
Questions asked most often to startups (and maybe the toughest to answer) include “what kind of problem is your startup trying to solve? Do you have an enough market for your product or service? And what can you provide to users after the launch of the product?” Klook asks themselves these kinds of questions everyday to motivate themselves and remind themselves of their goal of the service.
Ethan Lin and Wang Chi-Hao, two co-founders of Klook met some difficulties while traveling in Nepal. In Nepal, they realized that the travel information is unorganized, which further motivated them to start a travel platform to integrate various travel information together for travelers. “The forum includes transportation details, tickets information of tourist attractions, and different event information,” said by Liu, the PR of Klook. “Our special service is to organize complete and organized trip schedules designed by travel experts – that offer clients to experience an authentic culture of that city with a reasonable travel budget.”
In addition, Klook is dedicated to satisfying the needs from customers, including forethoughtful plans. For example, the platform combines all of the relevant ticket booking system into one App so that consumers can easily find what they need in one system. Moreover, Klook selects specific people who can recommend some popular tourist sites of the specific city to briefly introduce their recommendations on Klook. For example, the host of the show “the Newtown Boy” on TLC, Joel, is invited to be the representative of Taiwan to recommend some popular sites to worldwide travelers.
The Conservative Tourism Industry in Taiwan
After obtaining 1.5 million USD financing at the seed stage in June, 2015, Klook received more capital funding around 5 million USD in December from Matrix Partner, China Growth Capital and the investment from Bo-Tao Liang, an angel investor. Despite the growth investments from many venture capitals, Klook still faced a challenge – the tourism industry in Taiwan is relative conservative, which limits Klook to expand its business by using the new business model.
“We are not saying ‘technologized’ everything is better, but we are still aware of the fact that some people in the traditional tourism industry in Taiwan are not willing to accept the new business model,” said by Liu. “For example, water sports vendors in Phuket are fine with digital coupons, but digital coupons are rarely seen in Kenting. Therefore, transformation from tradition to modern became one of the biggest challenges in the tourism industry.”
Find Yourself from Traveling
The idea of Let’s Roll Out came from its founder Hsu’s graduation project. “I was always asked to be an outstanding person in my life. However in college, I was confused about myself and did not know what I want to do in my future, which motivated me to do something that I never thought I would do before,” said by Hsu.
After joining AIESEC club, Hsu started traveling to be involved with unfamiliar environments and people from different cultures. She realized that some values she had been educated in Taiwan are wrong. From her observation in one cross-culture theme forum, she found that some students in South Asia think more independently than those so called “elite” students in Taiwan.
“There are different ways to find the inner side of ourselves. Reading is one, and for me, traveling is the easy and fun one that help me find myself during the trip. The value of Let’s Roll Out is to learn and to understand ourselves, we encourage traveler to embrace differences and find the new meaning of things you knew.” said by Hsu.
Learn by Reading and Experiencing – Are We Really Doing The Latter Part?
“If your purpose of the trip is to learn something or explore something new, then your trip should not be filled with only pictures-taking or shopping,” said by Hsu. She published a book named “Let’s Roll Out Notes” with her teammates, which includes 45 missions for travelers. The book focused on inspiring – finding yourself, process – accomplishing the missions in special ways, community – having accompany during the missions; and moreover, continue the unlimited lifestyle after the trip.
Even though Hsu did not have a thought of starting a business, she earned 10 thousand USD from a crowdfunding platform flyingV, which allowed her to start with some business in Let’s Roll Out. Also, the team participated in the project, “U-Start”, held by Department of Education and earned a total of 1.6 thousand USD from the project. The project required the team to come up a plan to enter the second competing evaluation, which also gave Hsu a legitimate reason to start the business of Let’s Roll Out.
Who Are You Trying To Be? Problem Solvers? Or Winners in Others’ Eyes?
Hsu believes that starting a business with a profit model instead of NPO will bring more impact to the public. While the income of “Let’s Roll Out” is not stable, they still try to make profits by taking relevant traveling projects. Hsu is very determined to devote herself to the tourism industry, but she admitted she was frustrated in the early stages and lost herself in pursuing the performance. “I started to remind myself of the original goal of “Let’s Roll Out” and the purpose of being innovative,” said by Hsu. “Despite all other reasons to be an entrepreneur, so far the only thing I want to do is to provide a good service to people, and by focusing on this goal, I can be more efficient and happy in the business.”
“Always remind yourself of two important rules – one is to care about your feelings, and another is to care about your clients’ feels.” Bringing some valuable to our customers can make us happy, Hsu said, but it will nevertheless receive both positive and negative opinions from the public. Therefore, it is important to learn how to ignore some unimportant critics – another big challenge in startup business.
After the talks by the speakers from Let’s Roll Out and Klook at the forum, audience was curious about their thoughts to each other. Liu from Klook said that their business models and customer targets are totally different. “Even though we are in the same industry, we are still friends!” Hsu laughed. “Klook is a connector to combine all the traveling information. We are a creator to provide traveling services to the public. Both of them agreed that Taiwan, as one of the must-visit countries in the world, needs to improve the quality of the tourist sites. “There are many places in Taiwan that are surprisingly attractive to foreign backpackers and it is worth developing those sites to make a Taiwan a better place for travelers.
中文版連結Cover photo via Moyan Brenn@Flickr, CC License