Hotel Urbano, a hotel search and booking platform and one of Brazil’s fastest growing startups, has raised an additional $60 million in strategic funding from discount travel conglomerate Priceline Group.
The company declined to disclose a valuation, but co-founder João Ricardo Mendes says Hotel Urbano was valued at $365 million in March of last year and has grown significantly since then.
“We’re growing at 65 percent year over year, despite the crisis here in Brazil and the election last year which was not good for the economy,” Mendes says.
Priceline Group, which consists of six primary travel brands including Booking.com, Priceline.com, and KAYAK, will provide Hotel Urbano access to its 680,000 international hotel listings. This will allow Hotel Urbano to expand its global offering while building out tech to boost occupancy rates within its local network of Brazilian hotels.
“The hotel industry in Brazil is very fragmented,” Mendes says. “80 percent of all hotels are in leisure destinations that are very effected by seasonality.”
Outside of major cities like Rio and Sao Paulo, hotels in Brazil see yearly occupancy rates of 35 percent on average, Mendes says. To help these hotels fill empty rooms during the off-season, Hotel Urbano is tapping into the browsing and search behavior of its 30 million users and attempting to create demand for travel.
“Through your behavior on the web we try to understand what destination you may want to go, and we try to make you think twice before spending another bank holiday in your home,” Mendes says.
Currently, 45 percent of rooms booked are user-driven, but Hotel Urbano is using push notifications and retargeting to suggest vacations for people who aren’t actively looking to travel.
According to Mendes, Priceline was one of many big players in tech and travel courting Hotel Urbano for a partnership. Last year, Priceline invested $500 million in Chinese travel site CTrip, and recently upped its stake with an additional $250 million investment in May.
The strategic funding will go toward building out Hotel Urbano’s presence in Latin America, and Mendes tells TechCrunch he plans to be the first Brazilian tech company to go public in the U.S. within the next three years.