S Korea's Hotel Booking Unicorn Yanolja Acquiring Rivals eZee, Dailyhotel

Yanolja ZEN Rooms

South Korea's top hotel booking platform Yanolja is on an acquisition spree after recently securing $200 million from Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte Ltd and Booking Holdings Inc, a US firm that operates in the same space.

The investment, which makes Yanolja a unicorn with a valuation of more than $1 billion, seems to further fuel its desire to become a global budget hotel and online booking player as it recently made two acquisitions.

At home, sources said Yanolja is in talks to acquire Dailyhotel, South Korea's largest booking platform for luxury hotels and restaurants. Financial details of the deal have not been disclosed yet and Yanolja has not officially confirmed the report.

Launched in 2013, Dailyhotel claims to have more than 400,000 hotels in 210 countries in its platform. It provides an online and mobile reservation site where users can book five-star hotels and fine-dining restaurants in South Korea and elsewhere.

The acquisition, if it pushes through, will boost Yanolja's reservation services for luxury accommodation. It currently offers booking for motels and pensions.

In India, the South Korean firm acquired eZee Technosys, a lodgings management platform that helps hotels and other customers management bookings and loyalty programs online.

The move gives Yanolja an additional 21,000 global clients as it continues with its goal of expanding beyond its home country.

Kim Jong Yoon, head of Yanolja's online business, said the acquisition of India's eZee will help the South Korean firm develop the fully automated hotel management platform. This, he added, will lower operational costs of hotels and enhance customer experience at the same time.

Yanolja, which means "Hey, let's play", started as an online search portal for love hotels, guest house rooms, pensions, and small hotels. The company, however, sets its eyes on global expansion as it considers the South Korean market not big enough for the company to survive and scale up.

Its first foray outside South Korea happened in July last year when it invested $15 million to acquire ZEN Rooms, a Southeast Asia-focused budget hotel chain.

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