Top 10 Korean Travel Companies to Watch – Best of 2020

The coronavirus has been brutal to the travel industry not just in Korea but all around the world. However, before this outbreak, the travel industry in South Korea was on the rise. With the rise of Korean culture in regards to Kpop, entertainment, fashion, and beauty, there were an estimated 16 million international tourists that arrived in South Korea in 2019.  Most of these travelers are coming from China, Japan, and other parts of Southeast Asia. Therefore, Korean travel companies have been having a lot of success leading up to 2020. Airbnb really transformed the travel and hospitality industry and became a unicorn. Therefore many startups in Korea are looking to bring this kind of transformation into Korea’s travel industry. There are many Korean startups looking to disrupt the travel/hospitality space and we found the 10 most promising.

The rankings were comprised by the Seoulz staff and are based on 4 factors:

  • Funding
  • Market Opportunity
  • The innovation of service or product
  • Growth Potential/Scalability

The Top 10 Korean Travel Companies in Korea

1. Yanolja

The most successful Korean travel startup is Yanolja. It is the only travel tech unicorn in South Korea and is one of 11 startup Unicorns in Korea. It is the most popular mobile app in Korea for hotel reservations. They are officially the first Korean unicorn in the travel sector. They have a valuation of over $1 billion thanks to a $180 million Series D round from Booking Holdings and GIC. Yanolja found great success in turning the economy or budget hotels in Korea into attractive and affordable rental options for travelers coming to Korea. They have over 50,000 hotels on their platform with over 1.5 million users. Their focus for 2020 will be to focus on markets outside of Korea. Furthermore, they will also look to go public with an IPO in 2022.

Korea’s No.1 leisure platform is Yanolja and it has incorporated new technologies such as AI, IoT, and VR into traditional lodging and leisure industries for the first time in Korea.

Yanolja Acquires Indian Hotel Tech Firm eZee

Yanolja acquired Indian lodgings management platform eZee Technosys. By doing this they picked up over 21,000 global clients from eZee. This shows that Yanolja is moving beyond love motels and into accommodating families and business travels not just in Korea but all across Asia. Last year, Yanolja invested in Southeast Asian budget hotel chain ZEN Rooms. Yanolja is now the biggest shareholder of ZEN Rooms. Their investment into ZEN Rooms is to further their technology on the integration of hotel automation solutions in order to digitize the Southeast Asian hospitality market. Yanolja is the standard for Korean travel companies looking to incorporate the latest trending technology.

“Hotel is one of the items, but we are pursuing to realize a total package for the users. Yanolja is providing restaurant and activity, leisure tickets, transportation, and others,” said CEO of Yanolja, Jong Yoon Kim.

2.  HanaTour

Korean Travel Companies HanaTourHanaTour is considered to be one of the largest Korean travel companies. They have over 4,500 employees in Korea and aboard. Furthermore, HanaTour covers over 30 areas globally and is trying to become the top global culture and tourism group by 2030. The coronavirus and the Japan/Korea trade war have really hit this company hard so far this year. The company has been losing profits for some time now as more and more Koreans are planning trips themselves rather than buying tour packages. Currently, they average a net profit of around $10-$12 billion a year. That number could be much less in 2020 as there will be very few Japan-bound tourists. Trips to Japan account for 40% of HanaTour’s total customers.

Their focus for 2020 will be to expand the business into production, distribution of cultural products, and developing tourism. In addition, the company expanded its portfolio to cover the duty-free business with SM Duty-Free.

3.  MyRealTrip

Korean Travel Startup MyRealTripKorean travel startup MyRealTrip was the first company in the Korean Tour Industry to reach over 10,000 travel products. They not only provide guided tours, but they also offer various deals and services. Therefore, these deals and services can be entrance tickets, local activities, transportation tickets, accommodations, and rental cars in over 400 cities worldwide. The company has partnered with Naver Tour so they will be able to allow travelers to compare and book tours easily. Their platform is known for having a large collection of customer reviews which makes future customers make the right decision. In addition, they have raised over $70 million Korean VC firms such as Altos Ventures, Smilegate Investment, and Naver Fund just to name a few.

LAN Tours

MyRealTrip has introduced a non-face-to-face travel product called LAN Tours. It is the first Korean tour guide that directly introduces and communicates with customers in real-time through a direct online video connection.

“We have been expanding our service categories to offer seamless booking experiences to our customers. We are evolving to be a must-visit platform if you are planning your trip,” said CEO of MyRealTrip, Donggun Lee.

4. Trazy

trazyA travel startup in Korea called Trazy is a travel platform where travelers can discover the latest happenings for travel to Korea. It helps foreigners traveling to Korea to find out what they can do and where they can visit. They offer the best deals in the most convenient way through trazy.com. It is a one-stop travel booking site where you can easily find the latest, trendiest, newest things to do in Korea at the best price. They have offers from travel activities, tours, performances, concert tickets, beauty make-up experiences, and more. Their tours give specific itineraries for their tours hour by hour. In addition, they offer detailed explanations of what is included and excluded in the tour package. They have also launched in Thailand for foreigners interested in having the same Trazy experience there.

5.  With Innovation (Yeogi Eottae)

Korean Travel CompaniesYeogi Eottae is a South Korean online hotel booking service from With Innovation that made the news for accepting cryptocurrencies as payment on their platform. They have teamed up with cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb to create a payment platform. Therefore, payments in cryptocurrencies would include Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Ripple.

6. H2O

Korean Hospitality Startup H2OJapan-based Korean Hospitality startup H2O is an online and offline integrated hospitality management group focused on supporting lodging companies like hotels in the Korean and Japanese markets. They provide integrated solutions for the management of facilities such as reservation management, housekeeping, cleaning, facility management, and customer call service for hostels, guest houses, and hotels. In addition, H2O provides full-scale accommodation management solutions with its cleaning helper platform WaHome. They were able to get $10 million in funding from Korean and international VC firms such as Samsung Venture Investment, 500 Startups, and GB Boston just to name a few. Furthermore, their focus for 2020 will be on tourists traveling between Korea and Japan.

7.  Extriber (Tripstore)

Korean Travel Startup ExtriberKorean travel startup Extriber is the operator of a mobile tour package recommendation platform called Tripstore. It is an app that helps Korean travelers curate a vacation all around the world. They recommend packages from their database which has over 2 million tour packages. Travelers just need to input their travel dates, budget, number of travelers, and activities they wish to do. Extriber got $8 million in investments from Korean VC firms such as Kakao Ventures and Bon Angels. Their focus for 2020 will be to create new tour packages with Korean online travel agencies.  In addition, they will also work with TV celebrities

8.  WAUG

Korean Travel Startup WAUGKorean travel startup WAUG is a travel activity booking platform. Travelers can book admission tickets for special events and activities easily on their travel site. They started out targeting Korean travelers looking for overseas travel activities. However, they switched to target foreigners looking for activities in Korea. Furthermore, WAUG’s voucher ticketing technology enables foreign travelers to easily book domestic activities on site. They still help Korean travelers going abroad. WAUG even partnered with Universal Studios Hollywood to let WAUG users buy their tickets. In addition, users can book tickets for the world’s popular travel attractions, transportation, restaurants, and tours.

9.  DailyHotel

daily hotel Korean travel appKorean travel startup DailyHotel is an app that offers bookings to luxury hotels and fine-dining restaurants all across Asia and Europe. They are a lifestyle technology enabler that provides affordable access to quality experiences in accommodation, dining, and travel offerings through its mobile platform. On average they sell more than 100,000 rooms every month in South Korea. In addition, they have over 10 million downloads for their app

10.  allstay

Korean Travel Startup allstayKorean travel startup allstay is a hotel comparison app that offers users packaged holidays by comparing deals from other booking sites. They cover hotels as well as private accommodations in Asia and North America. Their focus in 2020 will be to look into mobile payments and to integrate offline travel agency content.

HONORABLE MENTION

YanaTrip

Korean Travel Startup YanatripKorean travel startup YanaTrip offers personalized online tours and activities for independent Korean travelers. YanaTrip is for travelers who need schedule tours and other activities. They focus mainly on Koreans who travel throughout the US. Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. YanaTrip was certified as a creative tourism venture company by the Korea Tourism Organisation, a highly sought designation within Korea. In addition, Yana Trips directly contracts with not only aggregators but also suppliers and is building up inventory around the globe.

KOZAZA

Kozaza Korean Travel StartupKorean travel startup KOZAZA is a home-sharing company that offers homestays in traditional Korean Hanoks which are 14th-century Korean houses. They offer travelers to Korea a full cultural experience Airbnb can’t provide. Homestays are a traditional form of travel accommodation that allows for a deeper cultural experience than a hotel. Furthermore, they have over 1,000 Hanoks and work with the Seoul Tourism Organization and Visit Korea Committee. Aside from homestays, KOZAZA also offers guesthouses and support Platform businesses via online marketing.

BED RADIO

Bed RadioKorean travel startup Bed Radio offers Korean travel programs and events for their tour packages in Jeju and Jeonju. Some examples include a rice wine experience for 20,000 won and a Korean liquor wrapping art experience for 35,000 won. The packages are perfect for travelers to Korea as well as locals. Therefore, this is a great way to socialize with locals through special experiences. In addition, Bed Radio offers accommodation at dormitories and private rooms in Jeju and Jeonju.

Naamezip

NaamezipKorean travel startup Naamezip is a platform where people of the same taste gather to have conversations and connect. The host recruits people with the same taste and holds a meeting at the host’s house. The host sets the fee for the fun experience. Therefore, the aim is for the host to grow their meeting group and increase his or her revenue. In addition, some hosts form groups around wood carving, baking, and philosophy just to name a few.