My Real Trip, Korea’s leading online travel platform, has received 43.2 billion won ($36 million) in funding from domestic and overseas investors amid the sluggish travel industry affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The company plans to use the funding to upgrade its search and recommendation algorithm as well as improving the process in which users can customize their itinerary such as flights, accommodations, tours, activities, and more based on their preference. The company also plans to increase its staffing which currently stands at 140 employees including 70 developers.
The funding was led by existing investor Altos Ventures along with IMM Investment and Smilegate Investment. This was the fourth consecutive investment from Altos and IMM, and the fifth from Smilegate. There were also new investors including state-lender Korea Development Bank, Singapore-based Axiom Asia Private Capital, France-based Partech Partners, and US-based Tekton Ventures among others.
Since its inception in 2012, the company has raised 82.4 billion won ($68.6 million) to date.
My Real Trip began as an online platform providing a colorful range of travel products and services such as accommodations, flights, package trips, activities, and more. Users can create an itinerary based on their preferred activities and the platform helps to match the user with a local guide best suited to provide an enjoyable travel experience.
Over 7.6 million users have planned trips using My Real Trip and the company offers over 2,000 products for domestic travels and over 23,300 products for overseas travels across 780 cities worldwide. The company posted a historic high of 360 billion won in transaction volume in 2019. Starting in June, the company began to offer virtual tours where seasoned guides across the world introduced travel destinations in real-time.
The global pandemic has caused global travels to sink heavily which took a toll on the company given that overseas travel had accounted for 90% of the revenue. Yet, My Real Trip was quick to transition its focus to domestic travels and fortunately, the domestic travel business quadrupled compared to pre-coronavirus, according to Dong-gun Lee, the chief executive offer of My Real Trip.
Investors predict the travel industry to go through restructuring in light of the coronavirus, and they are set on injecting necessary funding for the company to survive and to outperform its competitors once the travel industry picks up.
“It will be crucial for online travel platforms to offer as many products as possible to increase transaction amount since their main source of income is based on commission fees,” said Sung-bae Ji, the chief executive officer at IMM Investment. He added, “It may take time, but we are confident that My Real Trip will be at the forefront of the post-pandemic recovery.”
Such sentiments were echoed by other investors.
“Traveling will make a comeback,” Han Kim, the Managing Director of Altos Ventures, posted on his Facebook. He added, “Teams that are prepared will be able to take over the market.”
By Jung-hwan Hwang
<Edited by Danbee Lee>