ZEN Rooms wins investment

SINGAPORE, 22 October 2019: ZEN Rooms, a mid-range hotel franchises in Southeast Asia, had signed an agreement with travel group Yanolja to gain additional investment, acquisition of early investors’ stakes and the signing of a wide strategic alliance.

Yanolja is a travel group in South Korea, backed by Booking Holdings and GIC, among others.

Yanolja was the lead strategic investor in the company’s US$15M funding round in 2018, with rights to invest further.

 Early investor Asia Internet Holdings (Joint Venture of Rocket Internet and Ooredoo Telecom) has agreed to exit its stake to Yanolja. RedBadge Pacific and SBI Korea remain investors, and Access Ventures join as co-investors.

The alliance combines ZEN’s budget hotel franchise business with Yanolja’s scale, hospitality technologies and the backing of Booking Holdings (Booking.com, Agoda, Priceline.com, Kayak).

It should provide ZEN competitive advantages in both hotel technology and sales distribution.

The groups will work to heavily deploy automation technology to enhance customer experience, further reduce budget hotels’ operating costs and reinvent budget hospitality across Southeast Asia.

Founded in 2015, ZEN Rooms is now one of the largest hotel franchises in Southeast Asia, with 13,000 rooms.

Since Yanolja’s investment in mid-2018, ZEN has grown revenues 400% and has become in Q2 2019 the largest hotel chain in the Philippines, with 5,500 rooms under franchise.

Southeast Asia is today the world’s fastest-growing travel market, fueled by exponential domestic and regional demand of young travellers and millennials.

ZEN co-founder & CEO Nathan Boublil comments: “We started ZEN exactly four years ago to make budget accommodation in Southeast Asia more affordable and safer…. Backers Booking Holdings will create the first full-service budget & mid-range hospitality group in SEA”.

Entrepreneurs Kiren Tanna and Nathan Boublil founded ZEN Rooms and today it is now one of the fastest-growing hospitality companies in the region. ZEN has raised USD23 million in equity funding from leading institutional investors Rocket Internet, Ooredoo Telecom, RedBadge Pacific, SBI Investments Korea and Yanolja. 

Yanolja is Korea’s No.1 leisure platform providing travellers with real-time travel–and–stay booking services. In June 2019, Yanolja announced a capital raise of USD180 million funding from GIC and Booking Holdings at a valuation of over USD1 billion.