For all its exotic beaches, historic sites, beautiful landscapes and rich culture, Latin America has always remained a distant fourth when it comes to travel and tourism. However, in the last decade, things have changed considerably fueled by better flight connectivity, macro-economic factors and internet penetration. This has led to a drastic a change in Latin American travel industry outlook. With consumers more informed than ever, travel bookings have shifted online as the buying behavior has changed to customized offerings.
Online travel penetration is growing at an average of 10%, higher than the global average and about 4 times more than the pace of the total market. The growth in online travel is driven by Brazil and Mexico, representing over 70% of Latin American total and online travel markets, followed by Argentina, Chile, Columbia and Peru.
In spite of diverse market character, currencies, languages, economic and political environments, Latin America remains a huge potential for online travel agencies and technology providers. According to reports, the online market is only utilizing 34% of its potential, way lower than North America, Europe or Asia. About 20% of travel is booked online, which experts project will grow close to 40% over next 10 years. Increasing access to smartphones also drove mobile engagement, with the channel now accounting for 15% of online bookings. Clearly the market is up for grabs, and global and regional players are eying their share of this pie.
In this post, we explore the major players in the online travel space in Latin America.
Despegar / Decolar
Some call it union, some call it leader – Despegar, one of the oldest OTAs in the region holds the numero uno spot. Operating two well-recognized brands, Despegar, its global brand, and Decolar, its Brazilian brand, the company serves in 20 Latin American countries, and provides a broad suite of travel products, to over 17 million customers. Through its exclusive partnership, Despegar uses Expedia’s hotel inventory outside the continent.
Hotel Urbano is the number one online travel agency in Brazil, and one the biggest travel media brand on social media with over 12 million likes. The website has largely been credited for bringing the fragmented Brazil independent hotel industry (85% of the overall market) online. Hotel Urbano has remained the fifth most popular brand in Brazil (behind only Coca Cola, Skol, Brahma and L’Oreal — Skol & Brahma are famous beers) and the biggest online brand. In terms of traffic, it is the biggest website in Latin America, getting over 25 million unique visitors every month. Following its agreement with Priceline Group, the channel exclusively uses Booking.com to source hotels outside of LATAM.
CVC is the best-known brand in the Brazilian leisure travel industry and one of the most recognized brands in Brazil. Having started as a brick and mortar travel agency, it has for long been the largest tour operator in Latin America in terms of bookings made. The company still has the maximum retail outlets, along with two rapidly growing online distribution platforms – CVC.com.br and submarinoviagens.com.br attracting over 100 million unique monthly visitors.
Targeted more at budget travelers, Brazil based ViajaNet has grown impressively in the last few years. The site which has over 100,000 hotels listed, attracts over 5 million unique visitors every month.
Cancun based BestDay.com is the most popular OTA in Mexico offering 150,000 hotels. It is one of the leading Latin American travel industry companies with a strong focus in business-to-business distribution. The company owns HotelDO, the Latin American (LATAM) regional leader in online and XML distribution for business to business (B2B) channels, supplying travel products for both the wholesale segment and retail segments. The company contracts, maintains and promotes a regional online portfolio of 100,000 hotels across 850 popular destinations in 30 countries.
If you are looking to expand your hotel’s visibility in LATAM, RateTiger can help suggest the right channels for your property. Drive more bookings and increase online sales today. See our connectivity partner list, know more about channel management, online distribution and rate shopping solutions, contact us today on firstname.lastname@example.org.