Online travel startup Traveloka is aiming to launch a “blank-check” company with a listing in the U.S. this year. Ferry Unardi, the Indonesian company’s CEO, told Bloomberg Television that the plan was to raise funds through that special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).
Using a “SPAC is very efficient,” Unardi said. “If we can do it faster, we can then focus on execution and growing the company.”
Unardi acknowledged that “last year was difficult, we had to assess our organization, business — we had to make very difficult decisions.” He told Bloomberg that, looking ahead, Traveloka plans to invest more in its new “travel now, pay later” product to attract more travelers. Despite the hard times of the COVID-19 economic crisis, he said, the company’s travel business is now back to being profitable as coronavirus restrictions are loosened — even with fewer people traveling.
Unardi noted that Traveloka hopes to capitalize on the boom in companies going public in the U.S. After gaining a U.S. listing, he said, the company will explore its options, such as an acquisition. Later, he said Traveloka might consider listing in Indonesia.
Other Indonesian startups are seeking U.S. listings via SPACs, which allows them to take the money raised and buy a private company. According to Bloomberg, ride-hailing giant Gojek and eCommerce platform PT Tokopedia are looking to merge.
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said that travel would likely change permanently after the pandemic, with people looking to rent places in smaller cities and spend more time with friends and family. Traditional tourism, such as sightseeing at highly popular global destinations, is likely to be much reduced, he said, and people will likely travel less for business. Chesky said travelers would be “yearning for what was taken away from them,” rather than wanting to see various global landmarks. “They’re not yearning to see Times Square,” he said. “What they are yearning to do is to see their friends and their families they have not seen in a long time.”