South Korean firm Yanolja that reinvented love lodges receives Booking, GIC funding

SEOUL (Reuters) – Yanolja’s gentrification of South Korean love hotels has added the employer a valuation of more than $1 billion from buyers keen to capitalize on the globalization of a unique technique to quick-live lodging; its chief govt told Reuters. The finances lodge and online reserving platform operator reached the valuation having secured $180 million from U.S. Peer Booking Holdings Inc and Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte Ltd; Canola showed on Tuesday. It ambitions to behavior a preliminary public presenting (IPO) as early as subsequent 12 months, CEO Kim Jong-Yoon said in an advance interview. “I can proudly say we converted the industry.”

Yanolja’s emergence comes at a time of flux among hoteliers with legislators at loggerheads with market disruptors inclusive of Airbnb Inc – via which non-public owners can permit rooms for a short-term stay – even as a central authority marketing campaign to lessen operating hours guarantees to free up extra enjoyment time for brief breaks.
Love inns have occupied an unusual space inside the broader marketplace, providing privateness for as little as some hours at minimum value for, for instance, young couples dwelling with their dad and mom.

However, a famous affiliation with extramarital affairs, prostitution, and hidden cameras has sullied their reputation, exacerbated via their often garish decor and muted lighting. Canola – that means “Hey, permit’s play” – sought to dispel any stigma with its vivid, contemporary franchised price range hotels, targeting millennial couples; however, it additionally finances tourists looking for brief-time period lodging. “Previously, many people have been now not able to visit hotels out of embarrassment,” Kim stated. “But we’ve drawn in guests even for the journey. That’s the most important trade.”


The company, which began as a web seek portal for romance inns, additionally lists lodge, pension, and visitor house rooms on its internet site at charges ranging from 50,000 received ($41.86) a night time at budget resort Ben-Hur to 200,000 received at 5-celebrity Hyatt. It has entered a strategic partnership with Booking. The latter’s Agoda logo can list Yanolja accommodation, even as Canola clients can e-book worldwide through Agoda and other Booking manufacturers, Canola stated in a Tuesday statement.

Booking and GIC have not been without delay available for remark. Canola has grown to be the 8th South Korean unicorn to have a valuation of more than $1 billion in a country dominated by large conglomerates like Samsung and Hyundai. “It’s a unique instance which breaks away from the traditional belief of love resorts,” stated tourism professor Lee Hoon at Hanyang University in Seoul. “But the domestic market isn’t always massive enough. So canola can continue to exist simplest if it is going worldwide and scales up,” Lee stated.

Canola ambitions to make bigger in hotels in Southeast Asia wherein it invested $15 million in ZEN Rooms remaining 12 months, bringing it into competition with Indian price range resort operator Oyo, backed through Airbnb and Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. Canola was founded in 2005 through former love motel housekeeper and valet Lee Su-jin, whose seek portal developed into a marketing platform for love inn operators in search of to replace clients misplaced after the 2004 passing of an anti-prostitution law.

A decade later, Canola claimed to be the first employer to provide a reservation platform for cellular telephones for its personal and others’ love inns, a chief shift in an industry which trusted stroll-in customers. The platform allowed it to extend its goal for guests to shoe-string tourists from home and overseas in a country where Airbnb-type alternatives are restricted to overseas visitors. Listings later ballooned as hoteliers grew to become to Canola to fill rooms after a political dispute prompted a drop in Chinese call for.

South Korea’s online journey income nearly doubled in 5 years through 2018 to $21.8 billion, Euromonitor information supplied to Reuters showed. Sales through mobile made up nearly half of-of the total, the 0.33-biggest proportion globally, Euromonitor said. Yanolja’s revenue almost doubled to 188. 5 billion received the last yr, from 12 months in advance. However, the company remains dropping cash on a consolidated basis, said CEO Kim. It pursuits to sell shares in an IPO via 2022 at the trendy, he stated.

Samantha W. Hodgson

I love to travel, and I like sharing my knowledge of it. The travel world is vast, and there are so many places to visit and things to learn! My goal as a travel blogger is to take my readers on an exciting journey through beautiful, exotic, and historical destinations. I am always eager to discover new places to explore, so I am always looking for more tips and advice for other travelers. I can't wait to meet you!