Eric Gnock Fah, Klook
Eric Gnock Fah co-founded Klook in 2014, and as COO, he heads up the tours and activities brand's global expansion in the supply portfolio. At The Phocuswright Conference, he'll take part in an Executive Interview alongside Klook competitor GetYourGuide.
In a series of interviews with executives participating at the event in Florida in November, PhocusWire finds out what makes them tick...
You're explaining the industry to a new employee - complete the sentence: "Beware of the ..."
“Beware of the thinking that growth in the travel industry is limited.” The travel in-destination sector still has a lot of potential to grow as the market is expected to reach US$183 billion by 2020.
Unlike air travel, accommodations and other travel-related businesses, only 15% of the business is online today. It’s a big opportunity and one that we’re very excited about.
In five years, we have helped transform booking behavior from legacy pen and paper to on-demand digital confirmations for travel operators and travelers around the world.
What are the gaps in your experience and knowledge of the industry?
My fellow co-founders and I were from investment banking and software development industries, so we came with little knowledge of the travel space before we started Klook.
Being outsiders allowed us to think differently and creatively. Some of those bold decisions led us to where we are today with Klook. Our mobile-first approach addresses some of the pain points faced by travelers and merchants and has been a key factor contributing to our growth in the last five years. In fact, over 75% of our bookings are made on mobile devices today.
Who uses your product in ways that you never expected?
When we first started Klook, our primary target audience was millennial travelers as they are seen as the main driving force for free and independent travelers (FIT) in the Asia Pacific region. As we grew over the last five years, we noticed that we have been attracting customers organically from all different generations.
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I remember a special moment at an offline event in Taiwan where our colleague helped guide a retired lady book attraction tickets on her mobile phone as she was planning her first free and independent trip with her husband after many years of traveling in group tours. It was a rewarding experience for us. As we continue to make travel planning easier, we are glad to see travelers of all ages feel empowered to plan trips on their own with Klook.
Who has the most power in your business: customers or suppliers?
Customers. From our experience, the evolving needs of the modern traveler shapes and influences the supply of the in-destination sector. Travelers are becoming more and more spontaneous. Today, travel operators have started to adapt to this paradigm shift by digitizing their inventory and ensuring their services can be booked on-demand.
On a scale of one to 10, how lucky are you?
Five. I’m lucky to have a great team powering our business globally. I do think you make your own luck and that’s definitely what we’ve done for our business by putting in the hard work, determination and commitment every day.
Who is the person you most admire within the industry?
I would say my co-founders. We all started with little to no experience in the travel sector and the odds were really against us. Their commitment, hard work and dedication has been nothing short of extraordinary and we wouldn’t be where we are today without them.
How much of your time do you try to keep unscheduled?
About 20%, give or take. I try to have pockets of time in between meetings throughout the day. Whilst it's important to plan out the day, it's critical to have that available time to reflect and ideate, or hop onto anything that requires more immediate attention.
What question would you not want to be asked in an interview?
“What’s the last activity you’ve booked on Klook?” Most of the time, my answer to that is “airport transfer” because of the work trips I do.
What's your morning routine?
Many may say the morning is the best time for a fresh clear mind, but I think it is more crucial to find your own primetime for efficiency and stick to it. I’ve found that evenings work best for me and I’m learning to embrace it.
My typical evening routine would feature meetings and calls with colleagues in the European markets, followed by responding to emails from colleagues in the Asia Pacific region. If time permits that day, I’ll either have a work out in the gym or a quick run before heading home.
What devices do you use on a daily basis (model of phone, laptop, etc.)?
My iPhone X and my MacBook are the two devices that I keep close with me all the time. We're constantly mobile so they are essential for me to stay connected.
What do you do to alleviate stress?
Working out and sometimes I enjoy a relaxing, quiet read as well. Books on topics of management and leadership from other entrepreneurs are my common picks.
I also revisit some of the classic business-reads, such as Who Moved My Cheese? from every now and then. I tend to have different learnings from revisiting already-read books as I continue to view things from different perspectives.
Executive Interview: GetYourGuide & Klook
At The Phocuswright Conference, hear from the leaders of these two competitors to find out what’s in store for the experiences segment overall and what the most recent funding round by SoftBank could mean.