Korean OTA achieves unicorn status after GIC, Booking funding

Yanolja is now valued at US$1 billion

Yanolja, the largest online travel platform in South Korea, has raised US$180 million in Series D funding from Booking Holdings and Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, bringing its current valuation to more than US$1 billion.

Alongside its investment, Yanolja and Booking Holdings have entered into a strategic partnership and commercial agreement.

Yanolja is now valued at US$1 billion

With the partnership, Booking Holdings’ brand Agoda will have the ability to offer its customers access to Yanolja’s hotel accommodations in South Korea. Yanolja customers will also gain access to accommodations across the globe powered by Agoda and other Booking Holdings’ brands.

The South Korean OTA says it has accelerated sales growth at an annual rate of more than 70 per cent over the past five years, and is now the largest online travel platform in the country after becoming the industry’s first to surpass US$100 million in monthly transactions, It records 20 million accumulated reservations for accommodation and leisure activity booking.

The new funds will be used to further innovate in hospitality-related technology to automate hotel operations and achieve more pervasive connectivity across the value chain, according to Yanolja.

A portion of the newly raised funds will also be deployed to accelerate digitalisation and achieve growth potential in the global travel and leisure market, going beyond the traditional travel sphere.

Yanolja houses more than 200 hotels including recognised franchises across the country. Outside South Korea, Yanolja has invested in South-east Asia’s ZenRooms, which has more than 1,000 hotels across the region, strategically positioning itself for its global hotel franchise business.

Furthermore, Yanolja has developed a cloud-based property management system in South Korea, supporting all kinds of accommodation types.

Yanolja is also engineering a smart hotel that utilises key technologies such as artificial intelligence and the internet of things (IoT). Earlier this year, Yanolja, in collaboration with Korea Telecom, introduced the smart hotel concept on Jeju Island, expected to reap benefits such as cost efficiency and customer satisfaction.

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