“Living with COVID-19” to stimulate travel platform operators

Yanolja, Good Choice partners with travel agencies

By Yi Whan-woo

The country’s two leading startups in the online travel market – Yanolja and Good Choice – are capitalizing on their strengths as platform operators to expand their businesses before the government launches its “Living with COVID-19” policy.

This decision is based on the confidence-based success of platform operators in other industries, which have grown faster to overtake conventional market players due to people’s greater reliance on digital technology. amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In the cases of Yanolja and Good Choice, government pressure to “Live with COVID-19”, the policy initiative to be launched on November 9, will provide them with opportunities for growth amid rising vaccination rates. .

The administration’s policy will result in relaxing travel restrictions, both at home and abroad, as travelers continue to show a preference for online reservations and other travel arrangements.

According to local investment banking sources, Yanolja on Tuesday teamed up with Hana Tour, the country’s No.1 travel agency, under which the travel agency will sell its overseas travel package exclusively through the online reservation operator.

This is the first time that Yanolja has stepped into the overseas tour industry that primarily involves group travel, the sources said. As for the details of the partnership, Yanolja and Hana Tour were not available for comment.

Being the largest booking app in the country, the company has only operated programs for “fully independent travelers”, referring to people who design their own itineraries and do not travel in groups or on a schedule imposed by them. others.

“The partnership between Yanolja and Hana Tour would have been unthinkable if it had not been for a pandemic or an increase in platform operators,” a source said. “Yanolja plans to take the lead across the travel industry in the post-pandemic world.”

Yanolja reported 288.8 billion won ($ 240.7 million) in annual sales last year, more than a five-fold increase from 2017. However, Hana Tour saw sales decline by nearly a seventh from 2019 to reach 1.09 billion won in 2020.

Based on her experience in managing accommodation systems, Yanolja is also working with hotels and other accommodation providers to adopt her property management system, according to the sources.

The system was developed to manage day-to-day accommodation operations such as reservations, reception, housekeeping, maintenance, invoicing, analyzes and reports.

Good Choice, the country’s second-largest booking app, has acquired a 20% stake in Online Tour, one of the country’s five largest travel agencies.

Good Choice also purchased call options in the Online Tour, bringing the estimated maximum investment to around 50 billion won.

“The acquisition is expected to be mutually beneficial,” said an executive at Good Choice, noting that his company has only focused on the domestic travel market while Online Tour specializes in overseas travel, including flights, accommodation and travel packages.

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