The government-owned Singaporean wealth fund GIC and Booking Holdings US have invested US$200 million in a chain of South Korean ‘love hotels’, according to an initial report from Reuters.
Yanolja is South Korea’s newest growing contribution to the budget hotel industry. The budget hotel booking platform aims to provide comfortable and affordable short term accommodation to all sorts of travellers.
Far from the stereotypical dank and sleazy motels of olden days, the bright and youthful aesthetic of Yanolja’s budget hotels mirrors the wholesome, trendy spaces that millennials frequent and prefer.
Yanolja, translated as “Hey, let’s play,” aims to rebrand the otherwise negative association that people have about ‘love hotels’ as spaces for shady activities, prostitution, or illicit extramarital affairs.
Yanolja now targets hip millennials and backpackers as their intended guests.
Founded in 2005, Yanolja initially began as an online platform for searching and booking reservations in love hotels. The founder, Lee Su-jin, was a former housekeeper in a love hotel.
Last year, Yanolja’s revenue grew to 188.5 billion won (S$217 million). The company aims to scale up and expand to Southeast Asia, competing with India’s OYO Rooms and other budget hotel chains in the region.
According to research by the World Travel and Tourism Council, Southeast Asia is the world’s fastest growing travel region. Coupled by the meteoric rise in use of mobile internet and cost-conscious millennial travellers, budget hotels are all the rage for both investors and consumers.
Up and coming budget hotels are perhaps ushering the era of the McDonaldization of the hotel industry./TISG