Yanolja, a Seoul, South Korea-based online travel platform, raised $180m in Series D funding.
The round brought the company’s current valuation to more than $1 billion.
Backers included GIC and Booking Holdings (NASDAQ: BKNG).
Alongside its investment, Yanolja and Booking Holdings have entered into a strategic partnership and commercial agreement. With the partnership, Booking Holdings’ brand Agoda will have the ability to offer its customers Yanolja’s hotel accommodations in South Korea, and Yanolja customers will be able to book accommodations across the globe powered by Agoda and other Booking Holdings’ brands.
The company intends to use the funds:
– to continue to accelerate sales growth, which has had an annual rate of more than 70% over the past five years,
– to further innovate and achieve new grounds in hospitality-related technology to automate hotel operations, and
– to achieve growth potential in the global travel and leisure market, going beyond the traditional travel sphere.
Yanolja is Korea’s No.1 leisure platform that goes beyond reservations for domestic accommodation and leisure activities and includes reservations for accommodation around the world. It has incorporated new technologies such as AI, IoT and VR into traditional lodging and leisure industries, and is actively stepping up efforts to tap into overseas market.
In addition, the company is one of the largest hotel chains in Korea with more than 200 hotels which include some of the strongest and most recognized franchise hotel brands across the country. Outside of Korea, Yanolja has invested in Southeast Asia’s No. 1 hotel chain, ZENRooms, which has more than 1000 hotels across the region, strategically positioning itself for its global hotel franchise business.
Furthermore, the company has developed a cloud-based property management system, supporting all kinds of accommodation types, helping the owners save operational costs, increase bookings, and boosting revenue. Based on its technological know-how and operational experience, Yanolja is architecting a smart hotel that utilizes key technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and internet of things (IoT).
Earlier this year, the company, in collaboration with Korea Telecom, introduced the smart hotel concept in Jeju Island, which is expected to enhance the hotel’s overall performance contributing mainly to (i) cost efficiency and (ii) customer satisfaction.