HotelOnline is the leading e-commerce and digital marketing enabler for hotels in Emerging Markets.
Founded in 2014, we have helped more than 1,500 hotels across 18 markets in Africa and the Middle East increase their online revenues.
We know that online marketing is a science, which is why we have hired some of the best resources on the African continent, to help our partner hotels realize the full potential of the digital era.
We work with all the major online channels, such as Booking.com, Expedia, CTrip, Hotelbeds and AirBnB. We ensure that the hotels we market, have a presence across all the right channels to maximize online revenues.
Our partner hotels benefit from the HotelOnline Booking Suite, a range of world-class tools to manage bookings, rates and availability, and it is all in one place.
We take away the burden of processing digital payments, because we believe that getting paid should be cheap, and easy!
Both being frequent travelers, they saw an obvious gap in the market: Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) was a major aviation hub in the region, yet there were no budget hotels nearby.
Neither had any significant investable funds, so they leased five budget apartments in a nearby residential estate, and marketed their concept on Booking.com and Expedia, as an airport furnished apartments hotel. To stand out in the market, they offered free airport transfer with all bookings.
The concept was a success, and their apartment hotel was fully booked from the first month. In 2014 it became one of the most-booked properties in Nairobi on Booking.com, so with five budget apartments next to the airport, Bauck and Opdal were competing with Hilton, Intercontinental and Kempinski for online bookings.
That triggered their next idea: Neither of the two Norwegian entrepreneurs were experienced hoteliers, but they sure knew something about e-commerce and digital marketing. On a weekend trip to Dubai in late 2014, they incorporated Savanna Sunrise Ltd., the vehicle for what became their hotel marketing business.
The travel and hospitality industry in Africa was vulnerable at the time. Relying on one country or region would be too risky, so the two entrepreneurs decided to go pan-African from the moment go. By the end of 2015, they were working with 125 hotels spread across Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, Madagascar, Ethiopia and Eritrea.
In 2016, the expansion continued to Malawi, Zimbabwe, Namibia, DRC and Burundi. The two Norwegians hired several senior former Jumia Travel resources, to take their nascent startup into high gear.
In early 2017, Bauck and Opdal acquired a Polish technology company called Hotel Online Sp. z.o.o, founded by Maciej Prostak and Damian Dabrowski. Both companies were initially engaged in much-publicized three-way merger talks, which also included the Nigerian traveltech startup HotelOga. After completing a due diligence on the Nigerian counterparts, Savanna Sunrise however pulled out of the talks, paving the way for the acquisition in Poland. As part of this process, Savanna Sunrise rebranded to HotelOnline. The company continued its expansion drive into Nigeria, Ghana and Pakistan, and reached 1,000 partner hotels. HotelOnline closed 2017 as the first African startup to successfully raise money in an equity crowdfunding, completing a USD 250,000 pre-seed round.
In 2018 the merger and acquisition activity went into another league, as HotelOnline strengthened its West African base with the acquisition of Senegalese traveltech Teranga, and Nordic booking portal Cityhotels. The company also bought the Guestmaker business unit from New Mind tellUs, and local Norwegian vacation rental business Solferie.
With operations becoming increasingly complex, the two founders decided to seek the guidance of a professional Board of Directors. Bringing together some of the most skilled and experienced resources among the key shareholders, they established a dream team of seasoned professionals, including Tore Hofstad, Sindre Ottesen, Jørn Lein-Mathisen, and Eric Osiakwan.
In 2019, Shravan Shroff, known as the first angel investor in traveltech unicorn OYO Rooms, also joined the HotelOnline Board of Directors.