Tui Travel’s Hotelbeds online accommodation arm expects sales to rise by a quarter this year with plans to accelerate expansion in South America and Asia.

The business reported total transaction values of £844 million in 2010 and expects that to rise by 25% this year.

Hotelbeds, whose clients include easyJet, Air France-KLM and Travel Republic, plans to increase its global workforce of over 6,000 staff by more than 20% in the next five years. It is also increasing sales and marketing spend by 40% and IT investment by 43%.

Hotelbeds is looking to take advantage of a sharp rise in demand for online accommodation as consumers increasingly opt to book online rather than through high street travel shops.

Its global reach had helped it achieve strong growth rates despite dire economic conditions in some source markets, Joan Villa, managing director of Tui Travel’s accommodation and destinations division said.

“At this particular time there are not that many businesses that have this kind of growth rate. We have always had a global appetite, the world is our market place,” Villa said, adding that the business is particularly targeting expansion in Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Korea and India.

Demand for online accommodation is forecast to grow by 8% a year, according to research group Euromonitor.