The amount of Yanolja’s investment was not disclosed but according to a statement, the South Korean unicorn is making the additional investment by purchasing stakes from early investors.
With the new investment, ZEN Rooms and Yanolja will form a wide strategic alliance that aims to create the first full-service budget and mid-range hospitality group in Southeast Asia.
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The alliance combines ZEN’s top-rated budget hotel franchise business with Yanolja’s scale, hospitality technologies and the backing by the global leader in online travel, Booking Holdings (the company behind Booking.com, Agoda, Priceline.com, Kayak, etc).
“Yanolja and ZEN will work to heavily deploy automation technology to enhance customer experience, further reduce budget hotels’ operating costs and reinvent budget hospitality across Southeast Asia,” according to the announcement.
The alliance comes as Southeast Asia is considered as the world’s fastest-growing travel market, fueled by exponential domestic and regional demand of young travelers and millennials.
ZEN Rooms, founded in 2015, is one of the largest hotel franchises in Southeast Asia, with 13,000 rooms under franchise. Since Yanolja’s investment in mid-2018, ZEN has grown revenues 400 per cent and has become in Q2 2019 the largest hotel chain in the fast-emerging Philippines, with 5,500 rooms under franchise.
Yanolja rose to a unicorn status after securing US$200 million from Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte Ltd and Booking Holdings Inc, a US firm that operates in the hotel booking space.
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.
AsiaTechDaily reported in September that Yanolja was in talks to acquire Dailyhotel, South Korea’s largest booking platform for luxury hotels and restaurants.
It also acquired eZee Technosys, a lodgings management platform in India that helps hotels and other customers management bookings and loyalty programs online.[/ihc-hide-content]