Going on holiday abroad with traditional tour groups often results in unfulfilling experiences as most travel agencies offer “one-size-fits-all” tour packages that are hardly creative.
Meet Taiwan-based travel e-commerce platform KKday, which sets out to break the mould with its approach to delivering seamless customer-centric holiday experiences.
Touted as the largest of its kind in Asia, the company provides a plethora of “highly curated experiences” for holiday-goers looking for unique and exciting off-grid activities.
From hot air balloon rides complete with champagne breakfast over Gold Coast Australia to mermaid swimming and photography classes on Boracay Island, KKday isn’t short of quirky adventures to offer.
But the company would need to actually be doing something really different to truly be in a league of its own. Which brings us down to one question: Does KKday actually stand out in a market already saturated with competition?
Freedom and variety of choice
KKday’s chief marketing officer Yuki Huang tells Business Insider in an interview that the platform’s charm lies in the idea of freedom of choice.
According to Huang, before CEO Ming Ming Chen founded the company in 2015, he had observed big changes in travel trends. Budget airlines were becoming more popular and accommodation websites were offering hotel rooms at lower prices, sparking a boom in the young traveller market.
“He saw opportunity in tapping on the younger generation of travellers, so he became the first to group up younger people to start up KKday to plan activities,” she said.
With such an emphasis on the growing young traveller market, it’s unsurprising to know that 80% of KKday’s over 1.5 million registered members are below the age of 40.
Granting freedom to choose what activities to do without the need for planning is a key aspect to KKday’s approach to providing customer-oriented tour packages.
Huang said: “Conventional travel agencies aim to fulfil every traveller’s desires. With KKday, you can choose which experience you want to take on.”
And indeed so, as the company offers more than 10,000 types of tours on its app and website, all of which are said to be highly curated. These tours and activities usually last no longer than a day, so they can be easily slot into existing itineraries.
Popular destinations such as Tokyo, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Paris and London are listed as “hot” locations.
The most popular product among all of KKday’s members, according to Huang, is the Universal Studios Japan e-ticket which allows ticket holders to skip queues at the theme park with an express pass.
Package prices vary widely depending on the type of product selected.
A ticket to the Taipei 101 observatory, said to be the most popular with Taiwan-bound travellers, costs S$23 ($17.54). An eight-hour private tour in Taipei, is more expensive, and comes with a S$156 price tag.
The destination matters as well.
A day tour at the Rape Flower Festival in Busan, Korea costs S$72 while a day tour at Japan’s Fuji Shibazakura Festival is priced at S$147.
Considering the company’s target demographic, most of its packages could be seen as competitively priced for the content they offer. But that’s not the case all of the time.
For instance, the all-in-one Geneva Segway Tour, which lets KKday members tour the city of Geneva by Segway for three hours, costs an eye-watering S$262 – hardly economical for young adventurers.
Leveraging social media trends
Noting how social media savvy the younger generation is, Huang said that many of the tours include Instagram-worthy destinations and activities as well.
She added that this method of appeal has helped to boost the popularity of KKday’s cultural immersion tours which younger travellers typically don’t consider going for.
For instance, KKday’s half- and one-day cherry blossom tours in Japan as well as kimono and lolita fashion dressing tours have been well-received by its members because of the abundance of photo opportunities.
“We want to provide a wide range of products which include locations that travellers don’t usually pick,” said Huang.
“We leverage on social media trends to attract travellers to choose the unconventional packages and influence others to do the same.”
Convenient and user-friendly platform
Where customer satisfaction is concerned, convenience and user-friendliness are often paramount for travel platforms.
Instant booking via the KKday app or website allows members to book local tours in advance or on a whim.
Members will receive a confirmation email and quick response (QR) code “within seconds” of choosing a product which can be scanned by tour guides, enabling them to quickly join in the activity.
However, this swiftness in confirmation is only applicable to products with a finished application programme interface (API) connection, such as the Taipei 101 ticket and Hong Kong Turbojet ticket.
“Products with which we have not finished API connection, customers may take about one hour to get the confirmation email,” said Huang.
To cater to its potential customers from Western and Asian markets, KKday’s platform has also gone multilingual, supporting simplified and traditional Chinese, English, Japanese, Korean and other languages.
Travellers visiting places where their native language is not spoken can request for English-speaking tour guides.
Plans for expansion
KKday has gone through a considerable amount of growth since launching its website in January 2015.
From an initial number of 20 employees, the company has amassed a 280-strong staff by 2018, with 1.5 million members worldwide and over 1.01 million bookings to date.
Huang added that each month, the platform receives over four million unique visitors and serves hundreds of thousands members.
KKday has plans to expand operations nonetheless.
Huang said: “Our current task is to focus on new user acquisition and new markets expansion. As we have already tapped into Southeast Asia, we are now looking to expand in China, Europe and the United States as well.”
She added that the company aims to integrate algorithmic recommendations to improve online user experiences while optimising offline travel experience with customer-tailored tours.
It will be a tough battle ahead, however, with the creation of a sizeable talent pool being a pressing issue.
“The biggest difficulty we have now is undoubtedly finding the right talent. We need more than a squad to run 11 overseas markets, but an entire troop,” she said.
In spite of the manpower crunch, KKday has big dreams for Singapore where the company is still in its infancy since starting up here in 2016.
“We have yet to achieve a ‘big name’ company status in Singapore as we are just starting up here, and are now recruiting the best candidates to run local marketing campaigns and affiliated programmes,” said Huang.
“But there is no doubt about the importance of Singapore and the potential of this market. We are are looking into more cooperation opportunities with airlines, bloggers, or bank partners to raise our brand awareness in this market.”