Despegar has filed for an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange, with the supporting documents giving a detailed insight into the financial and operational performance of one of Latin America’s biggest OTAs.
Despegar, in which Expedia Inc owns a 16.4% stake, operates an eponymous dotcom across Latin America, with its presence in the region’s biggest market, Brazil, via decolar.com.
So in the year to end-Dec16, the business had 4 million customers and took gross bookings of $3.3 billion. This generated revenues of $411.2 million, a net income of $17.8 million.
And in the first six months of 2017, it handled 2.5 million customers; gross bookings were $2.1 billion; revenues were $248.5 million; net income was $18.5 million.
Both documents reference Euromonitor stats which put the above into context – the research group estimates that online travel bookings in the region in 2016 came in at $29.7 billion, which suggests that Despegar had more than 10% of the market.
Euromonitor also believes that online bookings in the region will see a compound annual growth rate of 12.5% over the next few years to reach $47.6 billion by 2020 when online will account for 36% of the total market, up from 31% in 2016.
Despegar said its “early mover advantage” [it launched in 1999] has allowed it to achieve significant scale and brand awareness. Scrolling through the 160-page filing some interesting figures leap out in this context – in an online travel landscape where “customer acquisition costs” are always part of the conversation, Despegar says that in the first six months of the year 52% of the traffic on its platform was direct and that 65% of transactions were from repeat customers.
Mobile is another default topic when looking at OTAs. During the first half of 2017 mobile accounted for 55% of visits and 27% of transactions. Its apps have been downloaded more than 33 million times.
Overall, there are a lot of growth drivers working in Despegar’s favour but there is also the potential headwind around the overall economy of the region, specifically in its two key markets of Brazil and Argentina.
And there are also a few cautionary tales emanating from the region’s online travel past featuring some high-profile protaganists – Europe’s biggest tour operator TUI struggled to make a success of Malapronto while Priceline Group was forced to write off its $60 million investment in Hotel Urbano.
Having said that, both haven’t given up on the region completely. TUI identified Brazil as one of its new source markets under its TUI 2022 strategy while Priceline bought Brazilian meta Mundi earlier this month.