Home-grown online room-finding app Yeogi Ottae hopes to become global player

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2018-04-11 15:38 Updated : 2018-04-11 15:38
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[Courtesy of WITH Innovation Corp.]

SEOUL -- Helped by growing popularity among young travelers and couples, WITH Innovation, the operator of a home-grown online room-finding app, has seen dramatic growth in three years to become a domestic leader which provides information about inexpensive hotels and other types of accommodation.

The app, called Yeogi Ottae in Korean (How about Here), has about 50,000 registered members, with the number of monthly visitors standing at two million. However, CEO Red Shim is not complacent as he seeks to globalize his service for both domestic and overseas users like Trivago, a German multinational company which claims to be the world's largest online hotel search site.

While Trivago offers a hotel search app that also provides interactive maps and displays accommodations in close proximity, Yeogi displays accommodations in close proximity and displays room panoramas, user reviews, pricing and map location.

"We aim to become a global leader in the accommodation and activity market," Shim told Aju News, adding he would launch a platform for "cross-selling through activities" when domestic users go abroad or when overseas users visit South Korea.

He regards foreign companies like Klook and Airbnb as potential contenders as Yogi will combine its accommodation service with a variety of activities to enjoy.

Klook, based in Hong Kong, provides information for exploring and booking travel experiences online and on mobile. It offers various travel experiences, such as special activities, food-themed excursions and adventure expeditions, shows, and various modes of transport, as well as sightseeing tours and iconic attractions.

Airbnb is a San Francisco-based company which operates an online marketplace and hospitality service for people to lease or rent short-term lodging, participate in tourism-related experiences and make reservations at restaurants.

"The core value that a platform will provide to consumers is to deliver information precisely and help customers choose. This will be an important competitiveness in the global market," Shim said.

To increase the number of users, WITH Innovation plans to develop new contents, Shim said, vowing to show a domestic activity service this summer and an overseas activity service before the end of this year.

"The category of activity we define is very broad. For example, activities such as water parks, zoos and art galleries, as well as spas, massages and exhibitions can be included," he said. "People do not travel for accommodation only. They are going to enjoy something other than accommodation in a travel destination."

His idea is not new but Shim believes his company will be able to become a global player through business alliances or mergers and acquisitions. "The focus is on an accommodation and activity platform, based on the nature of O2O, which connects both on-line and off-line."

O2O, which stands for online to offline, is a term used to describe a variety of e-commerce services that provide online information, services, or discounts to consumers that enhance their offline shopping experiences.