FunNow, a Taiwanese online booking service, announced an integration of databases with Japanese property management ALMEX to expand in Japan.

FunNow, which launched in 2015, offers last-minute online bookings for hotels, spas, restaurants, beauty salons and outdoor events.

It will integrate hotel booking lists with ALMEX, which is owned by the Japanese mobile communications firm USEN-NEXT Holdings Co.

FunNow will add ALMEX’s hotel lists in Japan to its app and website, allowing Taiwanese users to book them directly. ALMEX in turn will integrate FunNow’s hotels and activities booking list in Taiwan into its service, so Japanese visitors can book in Taiwan through the Japanese interface.

“Partnering with ALMEX will be FunNow’s best strategy to enter the Japanese market,” FunNow co-founder C.C. Chang said in an official statement.

FunNow currently offers booking services in major cities in Taiwan as well as Hong Kong and Okinawa — a small, outlying part of Japan.

The Taiwanese firm says it can make bookings at more than 2,000 establishments including the Marriott and W hotel chains. The Taiwanese baseball team Chinatrust Brothers also accepts FunNow bookings.

Expanding in Japan

ALMEX’s manages properties for more than 4,200 hotels in Japan.

In 2007 it established a own hotel booking website, which has become one of the biggest in Japan. According to FunNow’s statement, the site has almost 1.8 million members and does bookings for 6,800 hotels.

ALMEX hopes its work with FunNow can offer more hotels to members who visit Taiwan. Some of its members now book massages, restaurants and bars near their hotels.

For FunNow users from Taiwan and Hong Kong, they will see hotel options from ALMEX when traveling to Japan. The platform plans to add ALMEX hotels first in cities like Tokyo and Osaka, then gradually expand to other cities in Japan.

According to the Tourism Bureau of Taiwan, more than 4.5 million Taiwanese visited Japan in 2017.

This tie-up is not the first between Taiwanese and Japanese companies. EZTABLE, a restaurant booking service in Taiwan, received investment in 2016 from Ikyu.com, a Japanese website for restaurants and hotel reservations.

Taiwanese tourists can use the FunNow service to reserve a table in restaurants in Japan, and Japanese can reserve them in Taiwan using ALMEX.

Future expansion in Asia

FunNow’s app and website show hotels, restaurants and events with space within 24 hours. Customers may be able to grab a discount, too.

FunNow users browse offerings on the platform, reserve and pay within the app. Then they can just visit the dining places or event locations with a series of code they receive after payment, and start their activities.

FunNow links its half-million to 2,000 hotels, restaurants and events.

The firm raised more than US$1.5 million in pre-A round of funding in 2017. China Development Financial Holding Corp., a Taiwanese investment firm, led the round.

FunNow expanded outside of Taiwan for the first time last year. Today 15% of FunNow users are from Hong Kong and Okinawa.

FunNow plans to extend its services to Southeast Asia as well as Japan this year. It forecasts total 2018 sales of NT$500 million (about US$16.8 million).

〔Original :meet@Tw〕