Skift Take

Hotel Urbano is now offering short-term rentals while Expedia is showing HomeAway's vacation rentals and has lots of apartment hotels. Convergence extraordinaire.

The Rio de Janeiro-based online travel agency, Hotel Urbano, has launched a short-term rental site to meet demand that hotels can’t meet in big cities and for international events, and has done so with a twist — guests have the option of paying for a stay in 10 installments.

Hotel Urbano acquired short-term rental site House of Rio and has revamped it and rebranded it as Voltem, which means “return” or “come back.” With around 40,000 ads, Voltem enables hosts to list their homes, apartments and rooms for free and then pay a 4.5 percent booking fee.

Hosts receive payment from Voltem in their bank accounts 24 hours after the guest checks in.

Guests search for places to stay, get a confirmation via email from the host, and have the option of paying in full or through 10 installments, including the credit card fee.

It is very unusual for an online travel agency such as Hotel Urbano to launch a short-term rental site. Booking,com, for example, offers plenty of vacation rentals and apartment hotels, largely from property managers, but doesn’t generally offer rooms from renters who don’t own the apartments because is fearful of the legal ramifications.

But Hotel Urbano and Voltem are jumping right in.

When Hotels Can’t Meet the Demand

“With a dedicated platform and a parallel structure to the Hotel Urbano, the Voltem team will explore the high occupancy rate of large cities and tourist spots, providing more options for these destinations,” says João Ricardo Mendes, co-founder and CEO of Hotel Urbano. “The World Cup has boosted this market. Today, more and more Brazilians are opening their home to tourists.”

As Ricardo Mendes indicates, Voltem is playing up the peer to peer nature of the home and apartment rentals, telling hosts and guests that this is a great opportunity to meet people from around the world.

Voltem will attempt to take advantage of international events taking place in Brazil, including Formula 1, Tomorrowland and the Olympics.

Eduardo Serrado, the founder and CEO of Voltem, says the site will also foster the travels of Brazilians, who “are discovering a new way of staying abroad.”

Says Serrado: “We expect to consolidate ourselves as the leading platform for temporary rent in Brazil and soon in Latin America.”


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Tags: brazil, hotel urbano, mergers and acquisitions, short-term rentals

Photo credit: Hotel Urbano CEO João Ricardo Mendes (left) with Voltem founder Eduardo Serrado. Voltem

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