Malaysia is a paradise for nature lovers, but getting to some of the nation’s most awe-inspiring sights can challenging, even for locals who have lived here their whole lives.
Hoping to help Malaysians and foreign visitors better navigate the vast landscape and all it has to offer, Malaysian entrepreneur Ken Lau created an online platform where adventure-seekers can plan and book tours and activities in various destinations across the country.
Lau, 38, tells Business Insider in an interview that the idea for Adventoro was born out of frustration with the lack of online resources for adventure-based tours in Southeast Asia.
“It was always lacking something, either a variety of options, information or a platform to book (adventure tours) instantly. You can book any hotels or flights seamlessly but not adventure tours and activities,” he says.
He considered this lack a waste, especially since the region is blessed with a comfortable tropical climate and nature-centred attractions are available in abundance.
As a result, Lau wished to create an online resource for travellers to “discover, read and inquire required info and to book at competitive prices”.
And to ensure the quality of tours being offered, Adventoro’s team curates listings so that each tour or activity is supported by the best supplier.
Less than two months after Adventoro’s launch, the website already has 500 listings on offer, possibly making it Malaysia’s largest adventure tour platform at the moment.
Strong domestic interest
Before its official launch in November last year, Lau and his team of five ran a beta version of Adventoro for seven months to see how the market would react to their product.
What they found was a strong interest from Malaysia itself, as well as Singapore, Australia, UK and Europe.
White water rafting and trips to national parks such as Mount Kinabalu and Taman Negara have so far been the site’s most popular packages, with each demographic leaning towards a different kind of activity.
For Malaysia’s domestic travellers, white water rafting was a top choice, while outdoor excursions were popular with visitors from western countries.
As CEO, Lau is an experienced entrepreneur and was formerly acceleration director at Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Center (MaGIC) and had previously run his own F&B outlet.
You can say his taste for adventure extends beyond travel and into the way he conducts business as well.
“I have learned that it is important to keep hustling, and keep focusing on my immediate goals and keep on trying. Encountering failures and learning from them is part and parcel of starting a business,” he says.
According to Lau, Malaysia and Southeast Asia’s travel industry has a “very encouraging” potential in the near future.
“The whole ecosystem is very eager to showcase the amazing and awesome adventures each destination offers, (while) travellers are becoming more sophisticated and long to discover unique destinations and experiences that are Insta-worthy,” he says.
Promoting adventure in Southeast Asia
While these are still early days, Lau already has an ambitious plan to turn Adventoro into Southeast Asia’s top go-to platform for adventure tours and activities.
If all goes according to plan, he also hopes to collaborate with tourism authorities to promote the region to adventure-seeking tourists from other parts of the world.
Lau admits that he has yet to explore all Malaysia has to offer, and would like the opportunity to explore some of the destinations his website offers.
At the top of his to-do list so far is to visit Sipadan and its surrounding islands.
“(The area) is still relatively untouched at the moment but more and more travellers are flocking to visit it at the moment,” he says, adding that he plans to visit as soon as he gets his diving licence.