Niko Grubelic and Nino Dubretic [Credit: Slobodna Dalmacija]

OYO purchases Direct Booker in $5.5m transaction

Croatia: Indian hospitality unicorn OYO has announced the acquisition of Dubrovnik-based vacation rental franchise agency Direct Booker for $5.5 million.

The purchase will reinforce OYO’s presence in Croatia – where it already has close to 1,800 vacation homes – and by extension Europe.

Founded in 2010, Direct Booker claims to manage over 3,200 vacation homes, servicing more than two million guests in the process. The company also won the award for Best OTA / online accommodation booking platform at the inaugural Shortyz Awards in London in 2020.

OYO launched its vacation rental business – OYO Vacation Homes – in 2019 – upon the acquisition of Amsterdam-based firm @Leisure Group, and has since expanded its footprint across the continent in the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Denmark and Germany through further M&A activity. However, its most recent CEO, Raj Kamal, quietly stepped down last April to be replaced by new OYO Europe CEO Dr Mandar Vaidya.

As a result of the acquisition, Direct Booker’s inventory will be listed on OYO’s Belvilla platform. The hospitality chain also owns and operates brands across Europe, including DanCenter and Traum Ferienwohnungen, the latter of which reportedly displays more than 7000 homes on its platform.

OYO has underlined the importance of its vacation rental business, as well as stating its intent to invest in more “tuck-in” acquisitions in Europe.

OYO global chief business officer Ankit Tandon said: “Homes continue to be an important strategic segment for OYO. With our leading operating system, dynamic pricing capability, and other data science-enabled features, we have been able to add value to our over 140,000 home storefronts globally and I am excited to welcome Nino, Nikola and the team at Direct Booker under the OYO umbrella.

“I am sure OYO’s cutting-edge technology, distribution systems, and data sciences will add more value to their current 3,200 homes and enhance our collective growth in Europe. We continue to focus on going deep in Europe and delivering the best vacation home experiences to our customers,” added Tandon.

Nino Dubretic, co-founder and CEO of Direct Booker, said: “We are happy to join forces with a global travel tech company like OYO. We strongly believe that by merging our technologies and expertise, this partnership will positively impact the Croatian tourism economy, further driving demand through OYO’s existing platforms spread across Europe.

“Being a part of OYO’s network will also increase visibility for the homes listed on our platform, especially across Scandinavian, Benelux and surrounding countries. The next couple of months will be truly exciting as we work towards building our business together,” he added.

In March, it was reported that SoftBank-backed OYO was considering revising its planned initial public offering [IPO] by either reducing its expected valuation by up to a half or even abandoning outright,

According to people familiar with the matter speaking to Bloomberg at the time, OYO may look to halve its originally expected $12 billion valuation, although these rumours were shot down by a company spokesperson.

The hospitality chain is currently awaiting approval from The Securities and Exchange Board of India [SEBI] to proceed with its IPO.

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