Keep your eye on the travel sector in Brazil. At least that is what some of the big global investment houses are thinking as Insight Venture Partners invests $20 million in Hotel Urbano.
The online travel agency, formed just two and a half years ago in Rio de Janeiro, is hoping to reach $197 million in revenue by the end of 2013 as it looks to capture even more of the burgeoning Brazilian online travel sector.
eMarketer expects total spend on travel in Brazil via the web to exceed $7.5 billion this year (an increase of $2.5 billion since 2011) and reach$11.7 billion by 2016.
Hotel Urbano is not solely an online operation, having bucked the trend of many ecommerce brands in Brazil and opening two offline retail stores in shopping malls in the country.
It also makes a large play with its impact on social media, having attracted some 7.7 million fans to its Facebook page. The company claims this is the largest of any travel brand on the planet.
In terms of product, over 180,000 hotel properties are featured on the site and it serves 35,000 destinations in around 80 countries.
Brad Twohig, principal at Insight Venture Partners, says:
"Hotel Urbano founders have a strong vision for growth and have successfully executed this vision, bringing benefits to employees, customers and shareholders. We are strongly behind management’s strategy for new products and new opportunities."
New York-based Insight has invested in a string of high profile web companies elsewhere around world including Twitter, LivingSocial, Beatport and, interestingly, a Hotel Urbano rival in the wider South American region in the shape of Despegar.