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(Yonhap Interview) Hospitality solution provider Yanolja Cloud seeks digital transformation of travel industry

By Kim Na-young

SEOUL, June 8 (Yonhap) -- Hospitality solution provider Yanolja Cloud Pte. is seeking to achieve "digital transformation" of the global travel and leisure industry with its solutions, a senior executive has said.

Yanolja Cloud, the tech affiliate of South Korea's leading booking platform Yanolja Inc., has been working to expand its business abroad, providing more than 80,000 solution licenses related to property, room and revenue management as well as channel management of booking sites to companies across about 170 countries across the world.

"There's a huge upside of potential there," David Solomito, the global chief marketing officer of Yanolja Cloud, said in a recent interview with Yonhap News Agency, referring to digital transformation of the travel industry.

He said only about an estimated 10 percent of travel and leisure properties were digitized before the pandemic.

For the properties, a hotel may charge US$111 instead of charging $105 as usual by analyzing competition, demand and other factors, such as a big concert in town, and maximize its occupancy and revenue by using the company's solution, Solomito said.

This photo provided by Yanolja Cloud Pte. shows David Solomito, the global chief marketing officer of the hospitality solution provider. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

This photo provided by Yanolja Cloud Pte. shows David Solomito, the global chief marketing officer of the hospitality solution provider. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Solomito also said kiosk service has proven to be very popular in South Korea, where around 50 percent of bookings of small and medium-sized hotels are done via walk-ins, because it allowed people to do things that are more "value-added" than giving someone their bill or lining up to receive room keys.

On Wednesday, Yanolja Cloud said it recently rolled out a new kiosk product targeted at the global market in cooperation with Samsung Electronics Co.

The kiosk, built by Samsung and installed with software from Yanolja, will allow properties to provide contactless check-in and check-out service to customers, according to the company.

"With the kiosk, we can help small and medium-sized business hotels and boutique hotels facing difficulties in operating the front office due to a lack of resources boost their operation efficiency," Yanolja Cloud CEO Kim Jong-yoon said.

Solomito said more properties started to implement contactless technology and cut costs, which opened up a whole other universe around digital transformation during the pandemic, increasing the demand for cloud technology.

It is now a "must have" technology for properties in order to differentiate and stay competitive, he added, noting that with the rapid transformation to automation and remote technology during the pandemic, consumers' expectations are higher.

In April, Yanolja took over Innsoft Inc., a U.S. hospitality solutions company, as part of efforts to expand its business in North America.

Solomito said Innsoft has a loyal customer base in the U.S. as it has operated for around 30 years, and the acquisition will provide Yanolja with talent, resources and insights.

In May, the company also acquired Go Global Travel that provides over a million travel products, including hotels, car rentals and airline tickets, primarily in the U.S. and Europe.

Yanolja Cloud, as a business-to-business solution company born from a consumer platform in the travel, hospitality and leisure world, has a lot of insights into knowing the specific needs of the industry and the customers, Solomito said.

In 2021, Yanolja received a 2 trillion-won ($1.53 billion) investment from Softbank's Vision Fund, raising speculations it may go public in the U.S. market. It marked the second-largest investment into a South Korean company after US$3 billion for e-commerce giant Coupang Inc.

In the first quarter of this year, Yanolja Cloud posted sales of 28.4 billion won, up 56 percent from a year ago.


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