Japan Travel Recovery an Opportunity, Says KKday
15.11.2023 - 19:25
/ Selene Brophy
Tours and activities operators in Asia expect at least another 6 to 12 months of pent-up travel demand. However, maximizing this opportunity depends on addressing capacity bottlenecks, especially in markets like Japan.
“It gets so chaotic that we have to help the suppliers,” said Wei-chun Liu, chief operating officer for KKday, a Taipei-based experiences booking company.
Visitors to Japan surpassed 2019 levels for the first time in October, the Japan National Tourism Organization said Wednesday.
Liu said that Japan has struggled to manage the surge in travel demand after restrictions lifted a year ago.
“We are seeing a lot of constraints from the industry, for example, the bus capacity, the tour guide capacity, are all a challenge right now,” said Liu. “Our team spent a lot of time trying to secure capacity for buses. The price of buses has probably doubled.”
KKday claims to have doubled its market share in key destinations like Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, and Japan over the past year.
In particular, bookings for outdoor activities have grown 350% in 2023 compared to 2019.
Founded in 2014, KKday’s business model has transitioned from business to consumer to include business to business, with the company reaching 6 million customers this year. In July last year, KKday raised $95 million in series C funding, which it used to expand with brands such as Fine Day for the luxury market, and Activity Japan, one of the largest tour booking platforms in the country.
KKday also services over 3,500 small and mid-sized activity providers, offering 15,000 travel experiences in 550 cities through its reservations management software platform, Rezio.
Whereas KKday would typically outsource its specially curated tours, the company now manages more tour components to better deal with the service delivery issues it sees. Liu explained that KKday’s approach to creating less conventional experiences strategically looked at operational tension points in inconvenient and off-the-beaten destinations.
“We wouldn’t do our own tour in Singapore just because it’s so convenient. We do places a bit far out, where it’s not easy to get to, where there’s no public transportation,” said Liu.
“Because our demographic is mostly young people, age 25 to 35, they don’t want to go somewhere other people go. They want to take a new picture for their Instagram,” said Liu. “We curate products, look at social media trends, and the upcoming new destinations.”
Demand and the size of the route were added considerations. Liu said Southeast Asia destinations like Vietnam, Cebu, and the outskirts of Bangkok all matched this criteria.
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