[Herald Interview] Kayak targets Korea’s travel market with one-stop solution

By Kim Da-sol

Kayak’s Asia-Pacific Vice President Amy Wei says years of metasearch data at Kayak can read cycle of price ups and downs

  • Published : Apr 16, 2018 - 15:44
  • Updated : Apr 17, 2018 - 15:18

Finding the cheapest flights for a trip overseas can be a painstaking process. Many have experienced the agony of seeing the price of an airline ticket fall after purchasing it. Browsing online for the best travel deals can also be exhausting.

With Koreans traveling more frequently than before, demand has risen for the most efficient way to land the cheapest tickets at the right time. 

Government statistics showed that at least 26 million people here traveled abroad in 2017, meaning that 50 percent of the Korean population went overseas last year, the highest rate in the world. 

In light of the trend, one-stop travel solution service Kayak has been moving aggressively here, introducing an artificial intelligence chatbot service in 2016 to help consumers purchase plane tickets anytime and anywhere.

“Simply by typing in the date and destination of your desired travel, our chatbot will automatically offer the best flight ticket as well as options for rental cars and hotel reservations,” said Amy Wei, Asia-Pacific Vice President for Kayak.

Kayak’s Asia-Pacific Vice President Amy Wei. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)

According to Wei, Kayak more closely resembles a tech company.

Established in 2004 in Stanford, the US, Kayak processes over 2 billion consumer queries for travel information a year. Over 60 million downloads have been made globally, as of 2017. It also operates more than 100 local sites across 60 countries and territories in 20 languages. 

Over 50 percent of the some 900-strong workforce at Kayak is made up of engineers, Wei told The Korea Herald, adding that they are the ones who do the search for you to help you land the best deal.

Kayak suggests the best timing to purchase flight tickets based on its metasearch data accumulated over years. On top of that, the service also curates travel content and offers options for the rest of the travel itinerary including accommodations and activities. 

As of this year, Kayak has partnerships with some 750 airlines and has over 300,000 vacation packages registered on its service. It has information on 1.5 million hotels and accommodations as well as over 85 rental car partners across 80,000 locations worldwide.

Wei described Koreans as “savvy” travelers who would find Kayak useful, as it allows users to set their budget range, destination, purpose of travel and even the weather situation. 

“Whether it is (a) family vacation or honeymoon trips, you can simply select the purpose of travel. Then it will show you options from accommodation to rental cars and activities,” said Wei.

To expand its presence in the Korean market, Kayak said it would continue to collaborate with local online booking companies such as Myrealtrip. To raise brand awareness, Kayak appointed actor Kang Ha-neul as an ambassador last year -- its first time ever to have a face for the brand. 

“This means that we are serious about marketing in Korea,” said Wei. 

A former regional director in Shanghai for British perfume label Jo Malone, Wei said there is room to grow for businesses like Kayak. 

“For me, I can see changes that affect mass, literally influencing any who can search and travel. There are new ways of doing things that can change the industry,” said Wei. 

“We have the same goal every year. Go for the unreachable. If I go to any airport in the world, tell workers there that I work at Kayak and if they say ‘oh that’s cool, I use Kayak,’ that will make my goal achieved,” she said.

By Kim Da-sol (