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Kenya’s HotelOnline acquires hospitality software company HotelPlus

HotelOnline, a Kenyan-based Yanolja-backed travel technology scale-up that fashions itself as an e-commerce and digital marketing enabler in the hospitality industry, has acquired HotelPlus, a software provider with clients in 22 countries.

The full terms of the transcation were not disclosed but Eric Muliro, who founded HotelPlus in Kenya 13 years ago is getting a payout and $1.9 million in shares in HotelOnline, which was valued at $24 million before the deal. Muliro has also been appointed as HotelOnline’s chief technology officer.

HotelOnline said the deal has increased its customers by over 2,200 and opened the door for additional customers and unique offerings like payment solutions, AI-driven pricing, and revenue management.

“We are significantly increasing our client base, while capitalizing on the combined strengths of both companies, creating a force to reckon with in East Africa’s hospitality industry,” HotelOnline co-founder, Havar Bauck, told TechCrunch.

“Because the HotelPlus client-base currently uses on-premise software, this creates a unique integration opportunity with our cloud solutions…We are creating a massive win-win situation for the HotelPlus clients, in other words,” said Bauck, who co-founded HotelOnline with Endre Opal in 2014.

Trond Riiber Knudsen of the TRK Group, an Oslo-based venture capital firm and an investor in HotelOnline, said in a statement, “A deal like this helps build a strong African travel-tech player, with a local and continental foothold. This is a key part of what we aim to contribute to through our stake in HotelOnline. We see great potential in the new company, and we look forward to the journey from here.”

HotelOnline helps hotels to establish and increase their visibility online to tap a wider clientele base. It helps its clients to deploy booking engines and gain prominence on distribution channels like Booking.com, in addition to equipping them with the capacity to manage operations on their own platforms using cloud-based digital tools including property management systems. It offers management services to property owners too.

HotelOnline said it is planning an aggressive expansion across Africa, where it currently has over 6,000 clients spread across 27 countries, by tapping HotelPlus’s reseller network, and the growing hospitality industry — which is recovering strongly from the ravages of the pandemic. It immediate plan involves attaining a dominant position in East Africa, and in Nigeria and Senegal, as it works towards being a powerful pan-African player.

“HotelPlus has built an impressive commercial organization, with skilled sales people, a high-performance reseller network covering more than a dozen countries across the continent. Integrating these resources, prepares the ground for our accelerated expansion in Africa,” said Bauck.

The deal comes months after HotelOnline closed its Series A funding earlier in the year backed by Yanolja, a first in Africa for the Softbank and Booking.com backed South Korean travel technology company. Yanolja offers cloud-based solutions for accommodation, restaurants and residences, and boasts over 43,000 customers in 170 markets.

Having Yanolja’s backing has given HotelOnline the financial muscle to cut deals and make investments that will help it scale and expand in its current and target markets. HotelOnline’s other investors includes Tore Hofstad, Stratel AS and a group of angel investors from Nigeria.

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