Features

24 Hours With… Klook’s Marcus Yong

Marcus Yong, head of marketing at travel portal Klook, takes us through a day where there is 'no such thing as office hours', packed with brainstorming sessions, constant monitoring of site traffic and still some time left over for inspiring 'random conversations'

6.00am: I’m an early riser and this gives me enough ‘headspace’ to breathe, think and start the day right. I try to go for a run or walk my dog in the morning while mentally jotting down my mini OKRs (objectives and key results) for the day.

On the way to work, I check my email and Slack for things I may have missed overnight. With over 800 globetrotters working for Klook across 18 cities including Europe and the US, there’s no such thing as ‘regular office hours’, since we pretty much cover eight time zones.

At the coffee shop

8.00am: I’m almost in the office, making a quick pit stop for my usual long black. I can function without food, but not coffee. I power up my laptop and look at our daily numbers and forecast. The beauty of working in a hyper growth e-commerce company means that we are able to make decisions or changes to our plans very quickly.

10.00am: This is prime time when most people start getting into work. We do a quick stand-up around on the day’s plans so everyone is aligned and focused. I spend my next few hours on calls with my teammates from product, growth and supply in offices around the world to get updates on what is happening and new activity launches.

On the demand revenue — or what we call marketing — side, my team is almost 60 people strong, across six markets in the region: Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

There is never a dull moment and growth is the only constant.

We could be filming a Thai web series in Osaka with Universal Studios Japan, live streaming in Seoul with celebrities from the Philippines as part of our 12.12 Christmas campaign or gathering content to promote our latest activity in Southeast Asia — a private car charter to explore Ba Na Hills in Danang. Yes, that’s the famous golden bridge tour with the giant hands that’s making waves on social media.

Ba Na hills at Da Nang, Vietnam

11.30am: I receive a notification on slack that our site traffic just broke a new record for number of users queuing to checkout before we release our latest flash deal online. My teams around the region are asking if they can proceed with their planned Facebook live segments as they brace themselves for the surge. A happy problem indeed.

12.30pm: Lunch time. Even though the team has expanded quite a bit, we still make it a point to takeaway (dabao) our lunch and gather around the pantry to talk about non-work stuff like the latest restaurants or Netflix series to check out. Interestingly, the best ideas for marketing campaigns sometime stem from the most random conversations.

Klook’s army of interns

I still remember one conversation when the team came up with the idea of organising a summer internship boot camp for local tertiary students.

Our insight then was 1) To tap into the student population and 2) To offer them something beyond the usual promo codes or freebies — the opportunity to get paid, travel and work for a hyper growth tech company, all at the same time.

Three months later, we had almost 20 interns working tirelessly in the office out of more than a thousand applicants.

2.00pm: To get around the dreaded post lunch lull (food coma), I try to avoid staring at the computer screen and use this time for external meetings or brainstorm sessions with the team. We look at the performance trends of existing campaigns and discuss what changes are needed in the short term to maximise growth.

3.00pm: This is when momentum starts picking up and everyone is in the zone of productivity. I spend the next one or two hours working on my reports and email. My airpods hum to the familiar tunes of bossa nova, boho or indie rock depending on what I am working on.

5.00pm: I get on calls with our recruiters or candidates. We are expanding at such a fast rate these days that I am on a hangout call almost daily with strangers all around the globe. Hiring the right team and building a strong internal culture is very important.

 Klook’s South East Asia team

Therefore, we place a lot of emphasis on hiring people that can work hard, fast and smart. It is also important that they share the same passion for travel, technology and wanting to build a global brand connecting millions daily. As our co-founder Eric Gnock Fah said: “We have heard of the saying big fish eat small fish but it is actually fast fish eat slow fish — winner takes all — and being a fast fish means having the right funding and right team”.

6.00pm: Being in a regional role requires me to travel quite a bit. I’m usually packing up at this time to head to the airport for an evening flight to one of the other five markets that I oversee. Contrary to popular belief, a jet setting life isn’t fun or glamorous but I absolutely love meeting my teams in person for a quick catch up to discuss their work and pivot if necessary.

Where possible, I always make it a point to be a part of local activations or events. I can meet with our customers on ground to gain valuable feedback and show them that we too, are travellers behind the brand and not just a website or logo.

Klook Philippine’s travel fair

7.00pm to 10.00pm: From the time I hop onto my ride, to touching down at my destination, I browse through my emails again for any urgent requests and social media to catch up on news and inspiration in the community. Besides Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, we also create internal ‘communities’ on Slack where Klook employees can share interesting campaigns, insights or best practices from around the world. Evernote is also my best friend when I’m in flight mode. The peace from being disconnected helps me focus and translate ideas and observations in my mind into specific to-do’s.

I am a firm believer of the 80-20 rule. Where one should spend 80% of their time working hard but also allowing a good 20% of headspace thinking of the ‘next big thing’. With no Wifi or 4G for a change, flight time is that 20% for me and I have come to genuinely appreciate this ‘down time’ these days.

11.00pm to midnight: I do a quick check on the day’s growth and numbers before turning in. Depending on how intense my day was, I either turn to Netflix or a good book to help me unwind. My mind starts to wander just before I fall asleep. Tomorrow is the start of another potentially epic day and we will need all hands on-board to serve our customers. Fingers crossed, we break the platform record again.

Marcus Yong is regional head of marketing at Klook

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