1. Why is Booking.com doing this?

In helping travellers to explore and experience more than 100,000 unique destinations all over the world, Booking.com also seeks to contribute to the ongoing health of these same destinations so that future generations can continue to enjoy them for years to come. With the Booking.com Booster programme, Booking.com will identify, mentor and help fund promising startups that are seeking to have an innovative, positive impact on the global tourism industry.

This is an extension of the work we’ve been doing for the past three years as part of our Booking.com Cares Volunteer Programme, contributing our time and expertise to help improve destinations worldwide. Through our Cares Volunteer Programme, Booking.com employees are involved in projects sponsored by our NGO partners all across the globe. Employees can work on something that matters to the local community and at the same time has a real impact on making tourism in our destinations (more) sustainable.

Booking.com employees have spent time preserving natural resources, such as beach clean-ups and national park maintenance, as well as helping to protect endangered wildlife species indigenous to specific destinations. We have supported organisations that are promoting and preserving cultural heritage by volunteering at events supporting culture or at monuments and landmarks that make a destination special. We have also volunteered our time and expertise supporting organisations that support inclusive growth by making sure that local communities and areas are able to benefit and make a healthy living through tourism. This includes supporting a tour operator that employs former homeless people as tour guides or a volunteering with a hotel that has employees former refugees as two-thirds of their staff.

With the Booking.com Booster Programme, Booking.com will back a select group of social enterprise startups with financial support in the form of grants of €100-500k, and support them with valuable expertise throughout a 3-week booster programme in Amsterdam, along with ongoing mentoring and coaching. The focus is on helping startups with demonstrable impact in the sustainable tourism sector in one (or all) of the following areas to scale their business and impact globally: protecting the environment, preserving cultural heritage and/or promoting inclusive growth in tourism that supports and develops local economies and communities.

By investing our time, expertise and capital into these promising social enterprise startups, Booking.com can help work together with them towards a more sustainable future for the global travel industry.

2. Who can apply to the Booking.com Booster Programme?

Any startup that is seeking a positive impact or benefit to the environment, preserves or promotes cultural heritages or seeks to promote inclusive growth in tourism that supports and develops local economies and communities is eligible to apply.

To make our shortlist you should:

  • Have a proven business model with demonstrable local impact and a readiness to scale to multiple destinations

  • Want to be part of a community of startups that are turning tourism into a force for good

  • Be open to learn from and share experiences with other startups, working together with Booking.com to have more impact in the sector

Startups need to generate revenue, but no more than €1.5 million (or local currency equivalent) annually and must be registered as a for-profit business to apply.

All applicants must be fluent in English and should check their availability before applying for the Booking Booster. If you are unable to attend the Booster Programme for three weeks in June, then you shouldn’t apply.

Application and, if applicable, participation in the Booster Programme is free of charge. See section VIII of the Terms & Conditions for more details.

3. What are the judging criteria?

The judges will review applications keeping the following criteria in mind:

a. Market opportunity and size;
b. Demonstrable impact: measurable impact on the environment, cultural heritage or inclusive growth and a model that can scale;
c. Innovative business model and sound organizational strategy;
d. Financial feasibility and sustainability: earns revenue;
e. Skills, experience and commitment of management team.

4. What stages and dates are key to the programme?



1. Application Dates

Online applications will be accepted via the programme website between

January 23, 2017 and March 1, 2017

2. Selection of Shortlisted Startups

A selection of the shortlisted startups will be made by the judging panel, with follow-up phone interviews to take place in March 2017. The final selection of participating startups will be made public in April 2017. (See judging criteria above.)

3. Booking.com Booster Programme

A 3-week Booster Program comprising of a series of lectures, workshops and coaching taking place in Amsterdam in June 2017. Two representatives per startup will attend the Booster Programme.

4. Pitch Your Business

You will have an opportunity to pitch your business and scaling plan to Booking.com executives and external experts for a chance to receive a grant of up to €500,000 from our €2 million fund. Pitches take place at the end of the 3-week Booster Program in Amsterdam.

5. Grants for Selected Startups

Based on the final pitches, the judging panel will make a decision on the grants to be awarded to the selected startups.

6. Coaching and Mentoring

Startups will have access to coaching and mentoring support from Booking.com experts for a period of up to 6 to 9 months after the Booster Programme concludes in June 2017.

7. Measuring the Impact

We want to measure the impact that our support (grant, expert training and coaching) has had for the selected startups. This will be done via a survey and phone interviews on a yearly basis, for up to five years following participation in the Booking.com Booster Programme.


Key dates for the programme:

The global application process opens 09.00am CET on January 23 2017
Applications close 23.59pm CET on March 1 2017
Candidate Shortlisted Entrepreneurs are contacted and interviewed By March 24 2017*
Shortlisted Entrepreneurs confirmed and invited to the 3-week Booster Program By April 14 2017*
Shortlisted Entrepreneurs attend 3-week Booster Program in Amsterdam June 5 to June 23 2017*
Final Pitch and value of grants announced June 23 2017*

* Specific dates are subject to change.

5. Does Booking.com take equity?

No, Booking.com does not take any equity from your business. The financial support given will be in the form of a grant. In return, Booking.com will request updates on how your business and impact of your efforts are growing for up to 5 years after the completion of the programme. We will use this information on the programme website and other external channels.


If you have any questions that aren't covered here or in the Terms & Conditions, please drop us a note