Booking.com, a player in travel technology, announces the opening of applications for the third annual Booking Booster accelerator program for startups in sustainable tourism. Booking.com is calling startups from around the world that are building technology-driven solutions to solve sustainable travel challenges – in multiple areas – to apply for support from its €2 million fund.
Booking Booster 3.0
For the 2019 Booking Booster Program, Booking.com will select and invite 10 social enterprise startups in the sustainable tourism sector that are ready to scale their business plans to a three-week accelerator program in Amsterdam in May 2019.The program will consist of a series of lectures, hands-on workshops and coaching sessions, culminating in a final pitch to receive a grant of up to €500k from Booking.com’s €2 million fund in order to help support the next stage of projected growth for the participating startups.
All the startups will also receive a full year of ongoing mentoring and coaching from Booking.com experts, as well as opportunities and access to collaborate with Booking.com on potential innovation initiatives and experiments to help accelerate their future growth.
Startups from all over the world are invited to apply for the 2019 Booking Booster Program. Applications close on December 2, 2018, so interested startups should visit the Booking Booster section on the Booking Cares website for full information and additional details.
Commenting on the announcement of the program, Ritu Mehrotra, Country Manager, Booking.com India said, “Booking Booster program has always been focused on providing a platform and an opportunity of growth to key industry innovations. We see lot of enthusiasm in startups who are developing innovations that contribute to the holistic development of the industry, communities and promoting a sustainable way of travel. We are excited to be a part of the journey of these change-makers that seek to leave a lasting impact on the travel industry and contribute to the society at large.”
To celebrate the launch of the program’s third year, Booking.com also highlights four key areas of innovation being driven by startups addressing sustainability issues in the travel industry:
- Spreading the benefits and effects of tourism more evenly
Overcrowding in some of the world’s most beloved destinations is currently one of the most urgent and pressing topics in sustainable tourism currently being explored by a wide range of startups, together across cities. Recent Booking.com research highlights that most travelers are very open to the idea of adjusting where and how they travel, as well as what they do during their stay in order to help spread the effects and benefits of their trips more evenly. This all highlights the significant potential for increased innovation on this front to empower travelers to explore further, discover under-visited areas and support more local businesses.
- Creating economic opportunities for women through travel technology
Gender equality and women’s empowerment is a topic that is incredibly important to Booking.com. The scope of this issue is reflected in the growing number of startups globally that are leveraging innovative concepts and business models to position travel-related services as a vehicle to enable women to generate income independently.
- Promoting inclusive growth for under-resourced local communities
In a frequently quoted statistic from the UN Environmental Program, it is estimated that for every $100 spent on holiday by tourists from a developed country, only about $5 actually stays in the country and benefits the local destination and community. This represents a significant opportunity for travel companies to help local communities benefit more equally from the global tourism opportunity and to promote a more inclusive growth model for the larger travel industry as a whole. From recent Booking.com research, nearly two thirds of travelers (65%) say that they would like to seek out more local products instead of mainstream tourist souvenirs.
- Protecting the environment
There are many complex and interconnected environmental challenges being tackled by enterprising startups throughout the sustainable travel industry, including limited access to fresh water, issues associated with plastic waste and the ongoing depletion of natural resources. According to the United Nations Environmental Program, globally we produce about 300 million tons of plastic waste every year, which is roughly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population. Much of this plastic waste ends up in the world’s rivers and oceans, polluting the global water supply, threatening marine ecosystems and cluttering beaches and other coastal destinations.
Last year, Two Indian startups ‘Global Himalayan Expedition’ & ‘Sakha’ received the highest grants from Booking.com’s €2 million fund, of €400k & €325k respectively.
Global Himalayan Expedition organizes impact expeditions to provide clean energy and digital education access to the remote mountain communities of the Himalayas, helping to put them on the map for future travelers to explore.
Sakha Consulting Wings: Women on Wheels is a unique social enterprise, launched to offer safe transport solutions for women by women in selected cities in India, providing livelihoods with dignity through professional driving opportunities to resource-poor women as part of the “Women on Wheels” (WOW) initiative.