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Hurb strengthens its cloud journey with machine learning, big data, and new strategies

About Hurb

Hotel Urbano (Hurb), one of Brazil’s leading online travel platforms, seeks alternatives to optimize, streamline, and simplify traveling by connecting people and places.

Industries: Travel & Hospitality
Location: Brazil

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The transformation brought about by Google Cloud, which began with increased scalability and cost savings, resulted in improved data management and storage, ensuring process internationalization.

Google Cloud results

  • Optimized database with over 1.5 million hotels around the world
  • Cost savings of 21% with an estimated 40% within a few years
  • Data access permission granted to more than 700 workers
  • App usage peaks of 9,000 people at the same time
  • Team integration and collaboration using Google Workspace

Query times shortened from hours to seconds

Hotel Urbano (Hurb) is one of Brazil’s leading online travel platforms. Its mission is to create solutions to optimize traveling and make it more accessible by connecting people and places. Based in Rio de Janeiro, with operations in Brazil and abroad, the company already has offices in Sorocaba and Portugal, and it will soon open another in Canada.

Founded in 2011 by a team with tech and tourism expertise, Hurb grew to add 725 employees, 25 million registered tourists, 35,000 destinations around the world, and 14 million social media followers in less than 10 years.

With a view to innovating, the company, established in physical servers, migrated to the cloud shortly after its inception. However, it still needed to overcome a few technical scalability hurdles to keep growing its business exponentially.

Ever since Hurb decided to migrate its infrastructure to Google Cloud in 2016, it has no longer worried about infrastructure issues. Google’s team was essential on that journey.

"Throughout the migration to Google Cloud, we always had Googlers support to exchange tech data. Every time we needed to know the particulars of a specific product, we coordinated with Google’s engineers and, when necessary, we used the beta version about four months before it became available in production. We weren’t involved with any partners throughout the process, only Google’s team, which worked together with ours," explains Leandro Souza, Hurb’s Head of Infrastructure.

Short-term benefits

Ever since the company was founded, it has set out to create a multizone for its users and achieve robustness and flexibility. Google Kubernetes Engine ensured load balancing and user distribution among microservices. If needed, Horizontal Pod Autoscaler (HPA) handles demand by allocating more pods to serve users.

The new infrastructure also used fewer servers and handled a peak in the number of people using Hurb’s app at the same time. Other achievements with the cloud were user service optimization and the maturity to test tools before making them available to users.

"The number of errors reduced so much that some users even thought the system wasn’t working properly because of their experiences before the migration," says the Head of Infrastructure.

As Hurb was already operating in the cloud, it had less need to adapt its infrastructure. The team migrated a few old apps from virtual machines to pods and connected more than 86 of Hurb’s microservices to the new system. Two and a half years after migrating, the company achieved 21% in cost savings and estimates reaching 40% in the next few years.

"We have significantly increased scalability and didn’t need to adapt infrastructure, just connect the 86+ microservices we had in 2019 to Google Cloud’s new orchestration system. We also reduced the number of servers from 82 to just 39, and managed a peak of 9,000 simultaneous users in the app."

Leandro Souza, Head of Infrastructure, Hurb

Expansion project

After assessing all these positive results, the company realized it still had a few technical hurdles to overcome to ensure the platform’s exponential growth. Then it hit on the idea of adding machine learning and big data to prepare for the post-pandemic revival of tourism, in yet another partnership with Google Cloud. The aim was to introduce its employees to smart working.

As a result, after using cloud solutions, Hurb managed to solve duplicated-offering issues, democratized employee access to information and started processing and storing data in a faster, smarter way.

Currently, Hurb sells a one-day stay at a hotel every five seconds. Thanks to the joint work of Google Geocoding API and its proprietary machine-learning systems, the company detected duplicated or similar establishments among its partners and optimized a database with over 1.5 million hotels worldwide.

By integrating Vision AI in its proprietary data systems, Hurb can understand the millions of images representing its products and automatically select the best for its customers.

"Our cloud partnership fostered culture change at Hurb. Our teams began accessing data, leading to metric-based performances and, therefore, a bigger commitment to results from our employees."

Lucas Rolim, Head of Machine Learning, Hurb

Another benefit from the partnership was the internationalization of Hurb’s operations, enabled by the adoption of Translation API, a Google Cloud solution that provides instant text translations into over 100 languages.

Using Dataflow, Dataform, and BigQuery also made it possible to process and store large data volumes, creating a much faster and smarter method that provides the company with real-time business insights.

As a result, the company enabled 700 employees to access data, shortened data query times from hours to seconds, started managing over 2,500 spreadsheets with information about the tourism industry, and reduced the number of errors in spreadsheets and the time needed to make data available.

Google Workspace for collaboration

Google Workspace was a great addition to all the deployments and changes brought about by the cloud in Hurb’s journey.

Using Google Workspace’s tools, the company’s employees can measure and understand how activities are done and improve time management. The increased exchange of information between departments proved essential when resources began being used.

Sheets makes it easier to manage data and tasks. Through a leadership development path, planning, and new actions, Drive helps share documents, ensuring everyone can access the data simultaneously. Using these and other tools, Hurb managed to improve communication, leverage productivity, and spread knowledge.

"All our documents live in Drive. We create a document and improve it. This is useful for partnerships and as a guide at times. And with Gmail, communications are fluid with synchronized accounts, which saves us time."

João Ricardo Mendes, Global CEO, Hurb

Lastly, Google Meet helps develop and maintain good connections, fostering dialog and bringing people together. Since Hurb is going through an internationalization process, with teams spread throughout Brazil and other countries, there is nothing better than democratizing information and increasing process synchronicity. Hurb’s goal is to keep counting on Google Cloud and Google Workspace for that, leveraging a wide array of resources.

Tell us your challenge. We're here to help.

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About Hurb

Hotel Urbano (Hurb), one of Brazil’s leading online travel platforms, seeks alternatives to optimize, streamline, and simplify traveling by connecting people and places.

Industries: Travel & Hospitality
Location: Brazil