South Korea’s booking app Yanolja to buy Israeli travel tech outfit Go Global Travel

Softbank-backed Yanolja is acquiring Bnei Brak-based firm from Mid-Market Israel (AMI) Opportunities Fund to expand globally and become one of the largest travel solution platforms

Sharon Wrobel is a tech reporter for The Times of Israel.

Illustration photo: A person uses a smart phone in Chicago for online shopping, including travel shopping, which has shifted from desktop to mostly mobile devices. (AP Photo)
Illustration photo: A person uses a smart phone in Chicago for online shopping, including travel shopping, which has shifted from desktop to mostly mobile devices. (AP Photo)

South Korea’s online travel booking app Yanolja is buying Israeli travel tech firm Go Global Travel to expand its travel and hospitality offerings and boost its global footprint.

Yanolja will be acquiring Go Global Travel through its cloud arm Yanolja Cloud, an AI-based cloud solutions provider for the hospitality and leisure industries, for an undisclosed sum. Yanolja Cloud is buying Go Global Travel from Mid-Market Israel (AMI) Opportunities Fund, which is advised by private equity firm Apax Partners. Back in 2017, AMI Opportunities Fund, led by Zehavit Cohen, purchased a 80% stake in Go Global Travel from its founders Nino Tager and Natalie Dekalo.

Founded in 2000 as a family venture, Go Global Travel set out to overhaul travel building as a supplier of search engine technologies and service solutions to the fast-growing tourism industry. The travel technology solutions provider distributes an inventory of more than 1 million travel products, including hotel and resort rooms, airline tickets, and car rentals, and links them to 20,000 travel agents and tour operators primarily in North America and Europe. It caters to a network of more than 10,000 travel platforms globally.

Commenting on the deal, Kim Jong-yoon, co-CEO of Yanolja Cloud, said the acquisition will “further fulfill our vision of leading the digital transformation of hospitality and leisure properties everywhere.”

Headquartered in Bnei Brak, Go Global Travel operates about 20 offices around the world, including Spain, Italy, Romania, Brazil and the US.

Softbank-backed Yanolja, which provides cloud-based booking and other systems for hotels and travel companies, said its cloud unit intends to use Go Global Travel’s 20 overseas branches as bases for its global business expansion plans.

Go Global Travel chairman Ophir Ben-Ezra said the travel tech firm will continue to “provide the same high level of products and service to our client partners while being able to offer new inventory as well as innovative solutions from across Yanolja Cloud, including Booking Engines, Property and Revenue Management Software and more.”

The deal comes as Israeli travel tech companies have enjoyed some attention in recent months as the travel industry appears to have bounced back with significant growth after being severely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In early May, Jerusalem-based startup Joyned inked a deal with Spanish travel booking firm Amadeus. As part of the commercial agreement, Joyned’s booking software will be offered alongside Amadeus’s portfolio of solutions to online travel agencies and other digital travel players globally. Joyned booking software has features that it says turns travel booking into social experience by allowing users of a travel website or app to invite friends and family to discuss and make travel plans together in a private on-site space such as live chat.

Earlier this year, Canadian travel tech company Plusgrade said it was buying Israeli startup UpStay, a developer of a fully automated tech platform for hotel upgrades, and will open an R&D center in the country. UpStay’s system uses AI algorithms that send data-driven and personalized special offers to hotel guests to entice them to make room upgrades or additional add-on purchases prior to their arrival and throughout their stay.

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