GIC and US-based Booking Holdings have jointly invested US$180m (€159m) in Korean hotel operator and booking platform Yanolja.

Yanolja said that the investment from Singapore’s GIC and Booking Holdings, the company behind several global online hotel sites, has valued the company at more than US$1bn.

Alongside its investment, Booking Holdings has entered into a strategic partnership and commercial agreement with Yanolja. With the partnership, Booking Holdings’ brand Agoda will offer its customers the ability to book accommodation across the globe powered by Agoda and other Booking Holdings’ brands.

Yanolja runs one of the largest hotel chains in Korea with more than 200 properties which include some of the strongest and most recognised franchise hotel brands across the country.

The South Korean company also runs the country’s largest online travel platform and is in the throes of regional expansion with plans to go global.

The fresh equity will be used to further innovate and achieve new grounds in hospitality-related technology to automate hotel operations and achieve more pervasive connectivity across the value chain, said the company.

“A portion of the newly-raised fund will also be deployed to accelerate digitalisation and achieve growth potential in the global travel and leisure market, going beyond the traditional travel sphere.”

Outside of Korea, Yanolja has invested in Southeast Asia’s No. 1 hotel chain, ZENRooms, which has more than 1000 hotels across the region, strategically positioning itself for its global hotel franchise business.

It has demonstrated accelerating sales growth at an annual rate of more than 70% over the past five years.

Yanolja has been credited for reinventing the concept of love hotels in Korea, turning them from seedy places into attractive short-term rental options for young people and travellers.