Midweek Interview

Life in the time of COVID-19 with Klook’s Henry Hooper

This week, we caught up with Henry Hooper, general manager for Australia and New Zealand at Klook, to find out how he’s been faring amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

What are you reading?

I am currently reading Obama’s biography, A Promised Land. I’m interested in people who have pushed the boundaries and done things that have never been done before. I love reading biographies for this reason, especially from people who have achieved industry-firsts or world-firsts.

What are you watching?

I actually don’t watch a lot of television and am more of a podcast kind of guy. The only times my television’s on is when there are live sports like the AFL.

What are you listening to?

I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts. A couple that I love and I think are really interesting are Making Sense with Sam Harris and Pivot with Scott Galloway and Kara Swisher.

What are you cooking?

Tragically, I owe my life to Deliveroo and don’t cook as much as I should. I’m a big fan of Guzman y Gomez!

How are you staying fit both physically and mentally?

I run six days a week, as I have set aside a goal to run 850 kilometres this year, which I’m tracking slightly behind, as I travelled from Singapore to Australia for the Australian Tourism Exchange 2021 conference back in June, where I got to share about how Klook has pivoted throughout the pandemic and have found great success in the Dine & Discover NSW program – we saw over 20,000 bookings! Mentally, I meditate for 15 minutes every morning, and that helps me massively.

What’s something positive you’ve witnessed or experienced since the coronavirus hit?

I think we’re starting to rethink our relationship with work in general and normalise the work-from-home concept. COVID has completely removed the negative stigma around working from home, and I think this has benefited many and has given young families a lot more flexibility too.

What have you learned about yourself amid the crisis?

I’ve learned that I’m quite good at setting boundaries. I’ve been working from home for the majority of my 18 months at Klook, and had to learn to turn off my computer at a reasonable time in the evening to maintain a work-life balance. I’d recommend everyone to set themselves up for success with a separate working space, as well as not sleeping with your phone next to your bed.

What’s your advice for others in the industry on coping with the crisis?

I believe that there are two types of key changes in the world since the crisis. The first one is cyclical, and these changes would return to as they were before COVID. The other one is structural, and these would not go back to ‘normal’ per se.

For example, a structural change would be the working-from-home norm. I don’t think anyone will be expected to be in the office 100 per cent of the time in the future. On the other hand, travel is definitely a cyclical change and we have full confidence that the demand for travel will return with heightened tenacity.

We have already seen Klook Hong Kong exceed the pre-COVID monthly revenue levels on domestic travel alone. This is really exciting, as it means that when inbound travel returns, that business will effectively double!

Where is your favourite domestic travel destination?

I am currently based in Singapore, but I was born and bred in Australia. I absolutely love Queensland and think it truly is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, especially Port Douglas and Cairns.

What is the one international travel memory keeping you going through this time?

I last visited Korea and it was great learning about the culture. I also really enjoyed the cold! Living in Singapore for the past five years, it felt great to actually put on a jacket again.

Where do you want to travel to once international travel restrictions ease up?

I’d love to visit Sabah in Malaysia. I learned about this destination only when I began at Klook and worked with the Malaysian team. There’s so much to see and do – diving, eco-tours, rainforests and even orangutans.


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