Klook streamlines workforce, up to 20% of headcount affected

Travel activities and services booking platform Klook is streamlining its workforce globally either through temporary leave or headcount reduction. In a statement to Marketing, CEO and co-founder Ethan Lin said this will impact 10% to 20% of its headcount for most functions. Affected employees on temporary leave will continue to receive healthcare coverage and applicable benefits, including access to its employee assistance programme during this time. As of March this year, the company had more than 2,000 employees across 29 offices globally, including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Hong Kong.

The streamlining is the next step of cost-optimisation measures undertaken by Klook, which Lin said was "a very difficult decision". "After very careful and painful consideration, we have decided to take the appropriate and responsible action now to ensure that we can weather this storm and protect the long-term success of our organisation," he explained. 

Klook is also implementing a temporary reduced workweek across the organisation, in addition to its co-founders - Lin, Bernie Xiong and Eric Gnock Fah - not receiving any salary until the end of the crisis and leadership teams taking voluntary pay cuts. 

"The world is concerned about the devastating impact of COVID-19 and there is no travel at the moment, rightfully so. In response, we have progressively tightened our internal measures to reduce costs and explored ways to minimise changes for our people," Lin said. He added that these were "painful decisions" that have to be made but it must, so that it remains in good shape to weather the storm and be equipped to lead the recovery of the industry when the time comes. Klook declined to comment on the impact of the measures on its marketing team.

Klook joins the list of companies that have undertaken cost-optimisation measures to tide through the COVID-19 storm. Other companies included Zilingo, Sojern and OYO. Meanwhile agency networks including WPP, Omnicom Group, Dentsu Aegis Network and Publicis Groupe have undertaken cost cutting measures. Just last year, Klook raised US$225 million in Series D+ funding led by SoftBank Vision Fund, bringing its total Series D funding to US$425 million. The company claimed back then that this was the largest financing in the global travel activities and services industry. It previously added that it will scale its operations into new geographies and continue to expand in its existing Asian markets.

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