Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT) announced today that Despegar.com Inc., the leading travel website for Spanish and Portuguese users, has entered an integrated marketing agreement with Starwood hotels. This agreement includes numerous joint initiatives to promote all of Starwood`s six brands—Sheraton, Westin, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Four Points by Sheraton and W hotels—across the Despegar websites in Latin America, Hispanic (US), and Spain. As part of the integrated marketing efforts, Despegar`s sites in Latin America will feature special fares for Starwood properties combined with a variety of communication and advertising efforts.
“Given our historically strong position in the region and the success we have experienced with on-line partners in the United States, we decided to aggressively address E-travel in Latin America,” said Jeff Karlson, Starwood`s Vice President, Latin America Division. “Despegar is the ideal partner for us given the popularity of its brand, the growth of its user base and its overall leadership in the region.”
Despegar`s recent $10.3 million dollar financing has allowed it to continue to thrive despite the current economic environment. Despegar.com has kept close reigns on its growth strategy meeting and exceeding sales projections. Based on the company`s 25% growth rate per month, Despegar.com expects sales volumes to reach $80 million by the end of the year, with 40% of those sales coming from its corporate travel service, Despegar Corporate. The company expects to turn a positive cash flow by mid-2002.
“Through the partnership, Starwood will be able to benefit from Despegar`s extensive user base and reach, and jump-start their on-line efforts in the region,” said Federico Fuchs, Vice President of Corporate Development and co-founder of Despegar.com. “An agreement with a premier travel supplier like Starwood, underscores the strength and potential of E-Travel in Latin America and the leadership that Despegar has been able to secure in the region.”
Despegar, which means “take off” in Spanish, is the leading online travel site dedicated to Spanish and Portuguese-speaking communities worldwide. Miami-based Despegar.com currently operates in nine countries throughout Latin America, Spain and the U.S., employing more than 100 professionals. Despegar.com offers travel-related services, including access to over 500 airlines, 50 major car rental companies, 50,000 hotels and hundreds of vacation packages around the world.
Despegar Corporate (http://www.despegarcorporate.com) has launched its Managed Travel solutions in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, the U.S. and Spain. After six extensive months of needs assessment, product development and testing, Despegar Corporate`s booking tool now serves more than 250 customers, establishing the company as a managed travel technology pioneer in the region.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with more than 725 properties in 80 countries and 120,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. With internationally renowned brands, Starwood is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchiser of hotels and resorts including: St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Sheraton, Westin, Four Points by Sheraton, W brands, as well as Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., one of the premier developers and operators of high quality vacation interval ownership resorts. For more information, please visit http://www.starwood.com