Doubling Our Support for Startups and Changemakers in Sustainable Tourism in 2018

Doubling Our Support for Startups and Changemakers in Sustainable Tourism in 2018

Building on its successful launch in 2017, today we are announcing the 2018 Booking Booster Programme, a three-week accelerator in Amsterdam for social enterprise scale-ups in sustainable tourism. In addition to the €2 million in grants awarded through Booking Booster, we will further expand our efforts to support organisations and individuals throughout the broader sustainable tourism industry with two new additional initiatives for a total of more than €4 million in support available in 2018. 

The first new programme is the Booster Labs, a series of short, regionally-focussed weekend programmes that are slated to run globally throughout 2018, dedicated to giving early-stage startups in sustainable tourism the insights, tools and skills they need to grow and increase their impact. 

The second new initiative is the Booking Cares Fund, a separate €2 million grant programme to champion individual non-profit changemakers in sustainable tourism and support their search for new and unexpected solutions to strengthen local communities, preserve and promote culture, protect natural resources and spread tourism activities more evenly.

In helping travellers to explore and experience more than 120,000 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. The Booking Booster, Booking Booster Labs initiative and the Booking Cares Fund further this mission to make a positive impact globally.

“The Booking Booster, our new Booking Booster Labs initiative and the Booking Cares Fund have all been specially designed to support important, innovative players in different sectors throughout the entire sustainable tourism ecosystem,” said Gillian Tans, CEO of Booking.com. “By identifying, funding and mentoring early stage start-ups, social enterprises scale-ups and the non-profit projects and changemakers from universities, governments and NGOs that bring them all together, we can help make an even more meaningful impact. We can empower people and organisations to affect real change to help further a healthy and sustainable future for thousands of destinations all around the world.”


Booking Booster: Accelerator programme for social enterprise scale-ups

For the 2018 Booking Booster Programme, we will select and invite up to 12 social enterprises in the sustainable tourism sector that are ready to scale their business plans to a three-week accelerator programme in Amsterdam in May 2018.

The programme 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 scale-ups. All the social enterprises will also receive several months 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.

Applications open as of today, December 4th, 2017, until January 7th, 2018, so visit the Booking Booster section for more details. 


Booster Labs: Weekend programmes for early-stage startups

In order to help foster and encourage entrepreneurial startups in sustainable tourism at the very earliest stages of their development, we introduced Booster Labs to provide them with the insights, tools and skills they need to grow and increase their impact.

Over the course of a weekend, a select group of 10 - 15 startups will participate in hands-on workshops and lectures presented by experts in startup growth and sustainable tourism. They will also be paired with Booking.com mentors to provide guidance and support as they explore growth-hacking opportunities for their businesses. The weekend programmes culminate with each startup pitching their proposed roadmap to a jury of industry experts to win grants between €10,000 and €25,000 from a separate fund specifically set up for the Booster Labs.

The first Booster Lab weekend has just taken place in Barcelona - have a look at the highlight here. The next is due to take place in Tel Aviv from March 1 – 3rd 2018. Applications for the second Booster Lab open on December 11th. See the Booster Labs section for more information and upcoming application deadlines. 


Booking Cares Fund: Grant programme for non-profit changemakers

With the new €2 million Booking Cares Fund, we want to provide support to disruptive innovators in the non-profit realm that are passionate about making a difference in the sustainable tourism industry.

The Booking Cares Fund champions sustainable tourism changemakers in their search for new and unexpected solutions that reimagine the tourism and travel space. With the Fund we support projects that strengthen local communities, preserve & promote local culture, help disperse tourism and protect natural resources.

Changemakers can come from all over the world, representing universities, non-profits, research institutes and governments. Pioneers with bold, ambitious ideas to truly transform the sustainable tourism industry can apply for grants between €100 and €250k.

Applications for the Booking Cares Fund open as of today, December 4th,, 2017, until January 7th, 2018. For more information and application details, visit the Booking Cares Fund website.

Booking Booster, the new Booster Labs and the Booking Cares Fund sit alongside Booking.com’s internal volunteer programme, Booking Cares, where employees have long partnered with local organisations on projects that help improve destinations worldwide. Together these initiatives make up and further expand Booking.com’s Booking Cares commitment.

 

Booster Lab Barcelona - the Results

Booster Lab Barcelona - the Results

It’s hard to believe we’ve reached the end of the first ever Booking.com Booster Lab in Barcelona. It was a weekend full of passion, inspiration, energy and hard work.

Read some of the the highlights here.

The Results

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Jury member and Regional Hotels Manager, Mireia, arrived to the stage to announce the jury’s difficult decision.  Nexto received their full scaling funding needs and were granted €25,000. CloudGuide and the Outdoor Journal & Voyage received the second largest grants of €20,000. TripUniq received a grant of €15,000 and both Xmigrations and Alternative Athens were awarded grants of €10,000.

Pioneers Discover presented startup subcultours and STUDIOMAPP with tickets to Pioneers’18 hosted in Vienna in May, another great networking, learning, and growth opportunity.

The other startups don’t go away empty handed - they each received vouchers towards Booking.com accommodations.

 

This is only the beginning

All 11 startups will continue working with their Booking.com mentors for the next 6 months and will have the ability to submit volunteer projects and tasks for our Booking.com Volunteer Programme. Booking Cares is eager to carry on these relationships and continue boosting the impact and scaling endeavors of each of these startups.

We are proud of this first ever Booster Lab and all of the participants we have had. It’s been a great learning experience for the startups but, of course, also for us. Our next Booster Lab will be held in Tel Aviv from March 1 - 3 and applications launch December 11. We look forward to taking the feedback and insights gained in these days in Barcelona to Tel Aviv and the future Booster Labs.

We’ll keep posting updates and impact of these 11 great social enterprises, as well as updates on our department and its growth.

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Highlights of the Booster Lab - Barcelona

Highlights of the Booster Lab - Barcelona

Our first Booster Lab in Barcelona brought together 11 early-stage startups from around Europe who are all making a positive impact on the tourism industry. The entrepreneurs participated in a jam-packed weekend learning from trainers, our finest mentors and experts from Booking.com and, of course, each other. They now have the tools to scale their businesses and continue growing their impact.

Here are some highlights from the 3 days in Barcelona.

 

Day 1: Inspiration, Mentors & Impact

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Day 1 started with a bang - a quick meet and greet with the startups, judges and mentors led us to our introduction session, hosted by our Booster Lab partners, Pioneers Discover. Here, Irene de Bot, Manager of Booking Booster, introduced the participants to Booking.com’s startup roots, Booking Cares, and the Booking Booster programmes. We were then visited by the councillor for tourism in Barcelona, Agusti Colom, who gave us great insight into what the council is doing to combat over tourism and lack of distribution of travellers in the city. Finally, Alexei Levene of Desolenator, one of our 3-Week Booster Programme participants, owned the stage, sharing his entrepreneurial past as well as experiences with the Booking Booster Programme and mentors.

Straight after the kick-off, the participants met their mentors, sharing their expectations for the weekend over a quick cup of coffee before Pablo Sanchez led a workshop on Impact Measurement and took them through their Theory of Change. This helped them to map out how exactly they can measure the impact they make in their affected destinations. Ready for some food and some networking, we gathered around the table with wine and local food to end the first of 3 packed days.

 

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Day 2: Putting the Pieces Back Together

8:00 was the call time on this Saturday morning for a quick introduction to our very full 14 hour schedule for the day. Adriane Thrash and Argyris Spyridis of Innovation Farm definitely woke the participants up with their confrontational and no bullsh*t approach to Scaling in their 3-hour workshop. It was in these 3 hours that the startups confronted their doubts and were left questioning what they thought they knew about their businesses. Joined by their Booking.com mentors, the participants developed their Scaling Roadmaps. This enabled them to plan their coming year with a concise, focused, and distraction-free scaling plan - something they will continue to revise and perfect over the coming months.

This long day continued with some more time to work independently and 4 one-on-one sessions with 20+ Booking.com mentors and experts, giving each startup a variety of perspectives, guidance, and learnings.

While the schedule officially finished after our group dinner and drinks, the night was not over for many of the participants who continued their work in preparation for their pitches on Sunday.

 

Day 3: Pitch Training and Pitches

At 9:30 the startups had to submit their final Scaling Roadmaps. While the jury began their review process, Adriane and Argyris returned to give some tough love to the startups and perfect their pitching technique. The startups each have the opportunity to pitch and hold a Q&A in front of our 4 judges, 100 audience members, and fellow startups for grants of up to €25,000.

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In the coming months, all participants will continue working with their Booking.com mentors and with their new network of sustainable tourism innovators.

Tourism for Environmental Conservation

Tourism for Environmental Conservation

Today's the big day - the kick-off of our first ever Booking Booster Lab here in Barcelona! Before everyone arrives and we begin the weekend, we introduce you to Xmigrations, an adventure sport online marketplace for the traveller looking to leave the city behind and keep nature conservation in mind throughout his or her adventure. Xmigrations, another Spanish startup, donates a portion of their commission to local NGOs to help foster the sustainability efforts that already exist. 

We spoke to Manuel, founder of Xmigrations, about the startup and its impact on the travel industry. Read what he said below:

 

What triggered you to start Xmigrations?

Xmigrations was born on the island of Menorca when I was working as a lifeguard on the beach. After this experience and my relation with nature and human culture, I felt that humans need more contact with nature.

Besides the adventures, tourism should be a tool of environmental care. As a result, Xmigrations was created for those who want to migrate from cities to seas, mountains, rivers, lakes, etc. and, at the same time, preserve the environment.

 

What is Xmigrations and what is its impact on the tourism industry?

Xmigrations is the new marketplace in which you can book travel experiences like surfing, scuba diving, hiking, etc. We are the solution for those who want to migrate from the city to nature. Xmigrations works with a single merchant, in this early stage, for each destination and sport, offering to you only the best option and always under our brand Xmigrations. With every reservation, we donate a percentage of our commission to local environmental actions, introducing the environmental NGOs to the classic relation between tourist-enterprise.

There are almost 1.2 million species of animals listed. But, who also lives on Earth? The human being. His compulsive consumption of goods is the main cause of environmental degradation. In the world, the consumer society is only integrated by 28%. If these habits of consumption were extended to the entire world population, the situation would be completely unsustainable, a future foretold death. The classic tourism exports those habits of consumption from urban environments to natural places, but these do not have the necessary infrastructure to support this impact. But there is hope. The human being loves nature, loves culture, beauty, harmony between man and the Earth. There is a tourism that uses nature and needs to preserve it. Through the surf, snow sports, wind sports, scuba diving, multi-adventure or other nature activities, we can meet the needs of tourism experiences and evolve towards a tourism model that supports the conservation of the environment.

 

What recent milestones are you most proud of?

The most relevant milestone recently achieved has been the metrics in summer. In August, we achieved a total volume of €6600 in sales, achieving a positive ROI in our marketing campaigns by 170%, and so far this year we have managed to group €100 of donations to our NGOs collaborators, which strengthens our goal of donating €90,000 in the next four years.

We also got our first international clients, despite the fact that the current website does not yet have all the products in English. This is a very important milestone because it taps into the potentially huge market of foreign tourists. In 2016, Spain received 76 million tourists, while it only has 45 million inhabitants. This volume demands activities but the other marketplaces do not adapt their service to their needs.

 

What prompted you to apply for the Booster Lab – Barcelona?

We applied to Booking Booster in Amsterdam last spring, but unfortunately we were not selected. This gave us more energy to be stronger as a team and to grow together. This summer was our first big milestone with ROI 170%. We are now ready to use the time in Booking Booster Lab - Barcelona to work with the group and be able to make the leap in quality that we need.

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We are so excited the day has come - that the Booster Lab begins this evening. We've already gotten a chance to meet with some of the participants, mentors, and judges and have made ourselves very much at home in this beautiful venue, Valkiria. Visit again this evening to get some updates from Kick-Off and to get to know these 11 inspiring startups even better. 

Ask a Local Hero to Plan Your Visit

Ask a Local Hero to Plan Your Visit

Booking.com Booster Lab – Barcelona begins tomorrow! Tonight, participants and mentors start to gather in the hotel and prepare for the big weekend ahead.

Today, we introduce you to tripUniq, a Barcelona based startup! While tripUniq was founded in Barcelona just this past February, the app and guide marketplace is already available in 80+ destinations. TripUniq virtualises the experience of a local giving you a quick, hand drawn map of all of their favorite places, local secrets, and off the beaten track treasures not to be missed. It is a platform for their 1000 ‘Local Heroes’ to complete orders from travellers, providing customised guides by the day in many popular destinations. In addition to their Local Heroes, they have 5500 users and have delivered 2000 tailored travel guides with an average rating of 4.7/5.

We spoke to Charles, founder & CEO of tripUniq and established entrepreneur, on the inspiration behind tripUniq, how it works and the ways it impacts the tourism industry. This is what he said:

 

What triggered you to start TripUniq?

We started tripUniq because we detected an unsolved need in the traveller’s experience to be able to connect to the locals. As passionate travellers, we experienced this gap, and also read about it in Barcelona visitors’ blogs requesting help to plan their stay. After doing market research, we confirmed that there was space for this new trend as well as some interesting opportunities for partnerships!

 

What is TripUniq and what is its impact on the travel industry?

TripUniq is a tailored travel planning service made by locals. Nowadays, planning a stay is long and difficult for a traveller due to his lack of local knowledge. We believe that someone living in the city can do it faster and better, which is why tripUniq connects travellers with Local Heroes. We match travellers with compatible Local Heroes who will create tailored travel guides for the stay using tripUniq’s Travel Guide Editor and send it through the app. Every tailored guide includes an itinerary, daily maps, points of interest, general information, local tips, food suggestions and local events taking place during the stay. All the maps, images and information are available offline.

Our Local Heroes help travellers to discover the local side of the city and in doing so, they are sending travellers to less crowded areas. On a larger scale they can help redistribute tourism in the city and decongest the main tourist hubs. Additionally, our Local Heroes are locals living in those cities. We allow them to benefit from tourism and earn money by helping tourists to plan their stay.

 

What recent milestones are you most proud of?

With a small team we've already sold more than 2000 travel guides in more than 80 cities. Our 4.7/5 average review rate and our repeat sales (20% of our sales are from repeat customers)  show that our users love us. Finally, we won the Travel Assistant Challenge of Air France - KLM and we've started to sell our services to their customers with great results.

 

What are you excited to get out of the Booster Lab?

Just by being part of the programme we would obtain visibility among the industry stakeholders. In addition, simply being selected by Booking.com brings us notoriety. We are also excited for the mentorship and grant opportunity. Meeting and networking with travel industry experts is also a great opportunity to learn and accelerate our growth!

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We’re delighted to be in the city that tripUniq began to kick-off our first Booking.com Booster Lab! Yesterday we introduced you to the Outdoor Journal & Voyage. Tomorrow morning, we post the final startup story and in the evening will put a face to all the names with their intro videos. Stay tuned.

Adventure Travel for Sustainable Development

Adventure Travel for Sustainable Development

The Outdoor Journal & Voyage joins us in just a couple days for the first ever Booking.com Booster Lab in Barcelona! The media and travel booking platform builds a conscious community of explorers, who can then access the types of experiences they read about. It connects local operators with outdoor enthusiasts, making space for wildlife conservation and sustainable development.

We spoke to Apoorva, founder & CEO of the Outdoor Journal & Voyage, journalist, and mountaineer, about his startup, its genesis, and its impact on the tourism industry. Read on to see what he had to say.

 

What triggered you to start the Outdoor Journal & Voyage?

I grew up close to the mountains and forests of Northern India, with summer vacations deep in the Himalayas or in the jungles of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. These were pristine wilderness zones in the 1980s. I moved to the US and Europe and became an adventure journalist. When I returned to these places as an adult, I was horrified to discover my personal Edens being bulldozed to make way for apartment buildings and shopping malls, factories and roads; replacing wondrous natural beauty with smog and sewage. As an an international journalist traveling the world, I saw this destruction repeated all over - all for so-called "economic development". I felt strongly there were alternative ways for development, such as adventure tourism, that could both help bring economic prosperity to underdeveloped regions. while preserving wilderness and local cultures.

Many years ago, Lorenzo and I were snorkeling with whale sharks in the apparently protected marine reserve of Donsol in the Philippines, and realised that not all the boats were following the rules. We wondered, how could anyone ensure that the local guides and outfitters were genuinely protecting this marine ecosystem while also receiving all the benefits of thousands of tourists? A few years later, Zo and I went paragliding in northern India. It took months for us to find the best, safest, most qualified paragliding instructor we wanted to learn from. These experiences, among many more, led us to realize that we needed to build a system to help adventure travellers everywhere find, review and book the safest, best-qualified local operators anywhere.

 

What is the Outdoor Journal & Voyage and what is its impact on the travel industry?

The Outdoor Journal & Voyage is a media and travel booking platform, building a scalable and profitable business while promoting diverse and alternative voices, sustainable development and wilderness conservation. Our media platform builds a conscious community, who can then book the adventures they read about. Our business acts as a two-sided platform between outdoor enthusiasts and local operators, worldwide. For customers, we offer curated, high-quality, high-safety adventures across the globe; led by an editorial/media-driven customer acquisition strategy. On the supplier-side, we offer global reach to their target customers, with zero sales and marketing cost. We offer friction-less matching and ease of bookings for both sides.

When adventure travel is booked in the traveler's home country via traditional agents, 65% of the money stays in the home country instead of the region where the activity or travel is actually performed. With a platform we can measure the increase in money flows to these parts of the world, including the impact that these local businesses have on their local economy.

 

What recent milestones are you most proud of?

We recently crossed 75 agreements with operators! That's a fantastic validation of our goal to help local businesses anywhere in the world connect with travelers. We currently cover 50+ destinations, with over 700 contacted. We have 100K visitors to our pages, 30K following us on social media and a network of 200+ content contributors.

 

What prompted you to apply for the Booster Lab – Barcelona?

Our team is highly qualified in different arenas, including media content, PR, technology, marketing and sales, but we seek mentoring in sustainable tourism from a high-level perspective, backed by the technical know-how and understanding of the online booking space.

 

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We can’t wait for Apoorva and Lorenzo to join us on Friday at our kick-off event to the inspiring, productive, and fruitful weekend ahead. The Outdoor Journal & Voyage will be with 10 other startups selected to participate in our Booster Lab and pitch for 10 to 20k on Sunday at our Final Pitch Event. Read back on yesterday’s blog on subcultours, and follow us the rest of the week to read about the final two startups.

Connect with the Creative Crowd

Connect with the Creative Crowd

Tomorrow our Programme Team travels to Barcelona in preparation for the Booking Booster Lab this weekend! That being said, today we still get to introduce the next startup participating in the Booster Lab, subcultours. Subcultours is a company that offers creative experiences to travellers, allowing them to step into the the world of local artists and creative entrepreneurs. Meet the creatives living in the city - hear their stories, learn their craft, and take away your own creation on one of subcultours many experiences offered in Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig and even Costa Rica. After running a successful kickstarter campaign gaining them €4,500 and participating in the Startup Porto Accelerator, subcoulturs joins us this Friday.

We spoke to Katja, CEO and founder of subcultours, about the company and their goals to connect travellers to creatives and support the local arts landscape. This is what she told us:
 

What triggered you to start subcultours?

When I traveled to San José, Costa Rica, I was disappointed with the lack of culture and creativity at first sight. It was not until I had stayed there for a while that I realised how many interesting artists and creative entrepreneurs actually work there. The situation is just that most of the creative locals work from their home and have no direct touchpoint with the travel community. After seeing so many private homes and creative workspaces of artists and creative locals, I wanted to create a way for travellers to meet and support these creative souls. That’s how subcultours came into my mind - a way for interested, conscious travelers to get to know the persons who create the local, typical artwork, culture and subculture.    

The last 5 years I lived in 8 different countries and travelled to more than 30. I know the travel industry very well and have a lot of cultural experience. I'm an artist myself and almost all my friends are artists and creative entrepreneurs. I live and breath the vision and mission of subcultours.

 

What is subcultours and what impact does it have on the travel industry?

Subcultours brings travellers behind the scenes, into the private homes and workspaces of local artists and creative entrepreneurs, to meet, inspire and learn from each other. Our goal is to create mutual understanding and respect, on the one hand, and on the other to help sustain the local sub/cultures of a country. Subcultours are creative experiences which consist of a workshop and a personal storytelling part (e.g. visit in the artist’s favorite bar/café/park; tour in the artist’s hood). They can be easily filtered according to the traveller’s preferences (in terms of location, category, date, price, age, purpose, quantity of travelers) and booked via our web application. With subcultours we want to help people to travel in a more sustainable way by giving back to the local community and supporting the local sub/cultures and unique, traditional hand crafts. We live in the era of globalisation, with that comes standardisation and commercialisation. We consume faster, travel faster: fast food, fast fashion, fast travel. While we focus on the short-term gain (being faster, spending less), we often forget that this also has a cost - a cost the next generations need to pay. The local sub/cultures, traditions and craftworks which have been built over decades will slowly but steadily disappear if we do not allow ourselves to slow down and appreciate them.   

We change the world of travel to "travelling sustainably" by supporting all local craft workers, artists and creative entrepreneurs. In the globalised world, we want to emphasise this community building and connect people with different backgrounds, cultures and passions to meet, learn from each other and inspire each other. We want to help as many people as possible to find their passion and not only chase money in their life.

 

What recent milestones are you most proud of?

We have a number of things to be proud of. In 2016, we completed a successful Kickstarter campaign. We now have a network of +100 participating artists in San José (Costa Rica), Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig (Germany) and Porto (Portugal), and have partnerships with key hotels, hostels, tour operators and City Marketing. We are also a part of the Startup Porto Accelerator.

 

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We’re excited to have subcultours with us this weekend to examine sustainable tourism and grow and scale their business and impact with the 10 other amazing startups. Look back on yesterday’s blog on STUDIOMAPP and stay tuned the rest of the week for the final participant profiles!

Maps & Apps for Quality of Life

Maps & Apps for Quality of Life

STUDIOMAPP, the next startup to join our Booking.com Booster Lab this Friday in Barcelona, has big names backing them - the European Commission, European Space Agency, Italian Space Agency, Microsoft, Intesa Sanpaolo, and Climate-KIC. They are developing Qirate, the location intelligence service rating liveability of a location and map generator. Unlike other livability rating companies, STUDIOMAPP focuses on a street level, using data and geospatial analysis to map out quality of life. Using indicators based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Qirate will help travellers find the best places to stay according to livability factors that can make or a break an experience.

We spoke to Leonardo, co-founder of STUDIOMAPP and participant in this weekend’s Booster Lab. He gave us some insight, background, and goals for STUDIOMAPP. Here’s what he said:

 

What triggered you to start STUDIOMAPP?

We are passionate travellers. When we became parents we tried to travel as much as possible with the kids. However, when booking accommodations we realised that we were spending too much time finding out if a location would meet our needs in terms of cultural attractions, services, transportation, and shopping facilities, but also other important factors that were not as commonly reported on, like playgrounds, air quality, safety, and bike friendliness. This was so time consuming and frustrating... It was obvious that comparing prices and quality of services was easy to do, but somehow rating the ‘quality of life’ of a location was rather impossible to do simply. So we started collecting data, even from space, and we fell in love with geospatial analysis... this is where our story begins!

 

What is STUDIOMAPP and what is its impact on the travel industry?

We are the provider of Qirate, a location intelligence service for tourism aiming at a global scale. We are alchemists of geo-located information transforming raw data coming from different sources into precious insights for travellers. At the same time we enhance appeal of locations and accommodations using quality of life ratings (10+ indicators inspired by the UN Sustainable development goals) at street level.

The name Qirate comes from قيراط, qīrāṭ, carat, the unit of measure of precious stones and metals. The logo depicts a valuable diamond whose facets represent the streets and neighborhoods. Qirate helps travellers finding the best place to stay according to their needs, filling the gap of location evaluation and comparison.

Qirate will also collect data working with local stakeholders and residents and aggregate public and private datasets to measure economic value and quality of life. We have also started to work with the support of the European Space Agency and NVIDIA to develop artificial intelligence algorithms to measure the impact of touristic flows on the ecosystem.

 

What recent milestones are you most proud of?

We have been recently awarded by Airbus, the global leader in aeronautics, space and related services, as one of the top 5 startups in the world for geo-intelligence. We are also proudly supported by the European Space Agency through its Business Innovation Center in Rome to develop Deep Learning analysis of satellite data to monitor the continuously changing urban and natural environment. We are also supported by Climate KIC, Europe's largest public-private partnership focused on innovation and sustainable development.

 

Why did you want to join the Booking Booster Lab in Barcelona?

The Lisbon experimentation we are developing in these months is a perfect fit for the Booster Labs to enhance the impact of what we are doing and help us to scale. We believe this could be an incredible opportunity to share ideas both during the Booster and the mentoring with Booking experts to improve and refine our business model and support our quality of life rating. This is the real kind of support we are looking for. We are genuinely committed and actively working to find ways to improve the quality of life through a sustainable approach for tourism and our objective is to enable other ventures and entities to grow thanks to our future contribution.

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We can't wait for Friday when the Booking Booster Lab - Barcelona kicks off with STUDIOMAPP and the other 10 fantastic startups we have joining us. Take a look back at last week's post on One Planet Rating and stay tuned the rest of the week for the upcoming startup stories.

Explore Not Exploit with One Planet Rating

Explore Not Exploit with One Planet Rating

As the startups review the preparatory material for next weekend’s Booster Lab in Barcelona, we introduce the next startup who champions sustainable travel, enabling travellers to hold the travel industry accountable for their footprint and inform future travellers on the most sustainable options. One Planet Rating is the first review platform for the sustainable tourism industry. Travellers rate hotels, restaurants, sights, activities, and even cities on factors related to sustainability. This can be as obvious as noting recycling practices to as complex as commenting on wages or labour standards. By giving a voice to consumers’ sustainability desires, One Planet Rating encourages businesses to strive for optimal sustainable practices, rather than settling for the bare minimum.

Richard and Johan filled us in on One Planet Rating’s background and their motivations for starting their business. This is what they said:

 

What triggered you to start One Planet Rating?

As frequent leisure and business travellers with strong environmental and social consciences, we were frustrated by the lack of easy-to-access and peer-based information about hotels, restaurants and activities focused on impact. We found the existing expert-based “green labels” un-transparent, and the eco-hotel/green restaurant niches too small and too narrow (in terms of offering and budget) to meet our needs. We had seen the exponential growth of Organic and Fair Trade across categories in food. We believed the time was ripe to make “green travel” a mass market phenomenon, using direct market feedback built around customer reviews.

 

What is One Planet Rating and what impact does it have on the travel industry?

A “Tripadvisor for Sustainability”, One Planet Rating is the world's first dedicated review platform for sustainable travel and tourism. With One Planet Rating, travellers can rate Hotels, Restaurants, Cities, Sights and Activities based on environmental, social and cultural impact factors. We empower travellers to search, rate and plan travel based on impact, anywhere in the world. Easy and fast to use, One Planet Rating is designed to cater to both novices and experts. You can rate easily visible factors such as the prevalence of organic food, litter free beaches or energy saving advice in hotel rooms, to more in depth issues like fair wages and local heritage protection. Every time you use it, you learn about other issues to rate for future visits. Aiming to create a Race to The Top, One Planet Rating enables a positive feedback loop or “flywheel effect”, where positive business practices and market feedback reinforce each other. It acts as a complement to certifications and a reality check from visitors. Reviews push service providers to constantly compete and improve, rather than settle for the minimum requirement, “check box” mentality of the certification model. We go far beyond the “eco warrior” and “eco hotel” niches, giving everyone the possibility to find and rate any hotel, restaurant, tourist activity or city from day one, and push them on their usual choices to do better on sustainability. We believe we can create positive impact on a much wider scale by getting “mainstream” actors with little or no effort on sustainability to accelerate their efforts, rather than trying to marginally improve existing sustainability leaders.

 

What recent milestones are you most proud of?

On the product side, we have developed our Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and reached over 3500 ratings in a closed beta test phase, all without any external funding. We launched officially in Stockholm on November 15th with an already fully subscribed launch event.

On partnerships, we have secured a commitment from Frost Digital, an outfit with global A-list clients, to develop our mobile apps as an investment in kind. This guarantees the quality of our app development process and brings in valuable expertise in the marketing of apps.

Last but not least, the team. We have grown our highly motivated team to 18 people (11 nationalities) with a hugely diverse base of experience and education, covering all the key skillsets for the current and immediately next development phase. This team is motivated primarily intrinsically, by the mission of One Planet Rating and the potentially huge global impact.

 

What prompted you to apply for the Booking Booster Lab in Barcelona?

Being selected for the Booster Lab meant a lot for the entire team, validation from experts, a chance to engage with like-minded entrepreneurs, access to mentors with invaluable advice and just a really awesome win that will help us go forward. In the bootstrapping stage we have the chance to supplant passion with financial resources which can help us accelerate further. Testing our assumptions, our ideas for business models, the rating system, our content strategy, getting a reality check on our goals and targets would all we welcome and much appreciated. We also strongly believe we have a great product on our hands based on user and partner feedback and want to show others want we have and what we can do. As founders, we are immensely proud of this team that has worked without pay and on pure passion and commitment to take us this far and securing validation like this means a lot to all.

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One Planet Rating and the other 10 startups are joining us 1 week from today in Barcelona! We can’t wait to meet them and be a part of their personal and collective growth. Yesterday we introduced you to Nexto, the startup gamifying cultural destinations. Take a look back on the blog if you missed it!

Next Time, Discover Travel Destinations with Nexto

Next Time, Discover Travel Destinations with Nexto

Today we introduce another startup - Nexto - a cultural destination gamifying platform. Nexto takes tourism to the next level by offering gamified storylines for cultural destinations such as castles, ruins, and archeological sites. The app transports travellers to a highly engaging, exciting, and playful new side to travel, helping to bring travellers to sometimes under-visited destinations and facilitating interactive and memorable experiences. Since its launch in May 2016, Nexto has gathered 50 Slovenian partners, as well as projects in Croatia, Austria and New Zealand, and has earned 10,000 organic app downloads.

We spoke to Franci, CEO of Nexto and participant in next week’s Booster Lab, about the motivation, ideas, and goals that drive Nexto. Read what he said below:

 

What triggered you to start Nexto?

As cultural buffs and travelers we’ve been frustrated with how poorly heritage content is presented with traditional audio guides or with most dedicated museum and guided tour apps.

I've been building digital products for over 10 years. As a self taught developer, I was always attracted to improving user experience in public spaces through new technologies. While building a software development company in Slovenia and a couple of dedicated apps for the space of cultural tourism, I began noticing a common pattern in challenges and opportunities in this field. I spent my youth exploring cultural destinations and participating in cultural engagement projects. My father was the CEO of one of the largest nature parks in Slovenia and was always pushing the limits of engaging presentation with what was available at the time. I'm now applying that passion, understanding and experience to the technological opportunities I see for improving cultural engagement in younger generations. I believe there's enormous potential in location based storytelling (especially with gamification and Augmented Reality (AR)) for cultural tourism to engage people on a level we haven't seen before.

As avid gamers, we knew there is a better way of conveying these amazing stories. A type of storytelling that is more engaging, exciting and memorable. Especially with the technology that is now available on the devices in our pockets, we saw an opportunity to create something special.

 

What is Nexto and what is its impact on the travel industry?

We are building a mobile platform that enables cultural tourism organisations (destination marketing agencies, heritage interpreters, creative agencies, etc.) to create engaging on-location gamified AR experiences. We are bringing destinations of historic and cultural significance to life by enabling on-location "escape room" type experiences with the concepts of gamification and AR on mobile devices. With Nexto, any historic location (ruins, castles, archeological sites) can become a gamified attraction. Our goal is to gradually replace the outdated audio guide concept with a new and immersive way of location based storytelling on your mobile device. We want to make visitors feel like they're Indiana Jones, exploring hidden and off the path locations. Especially with AR, we imagine heritage locations as theme parks of the future (i.e. Jurassic Park, HBO’s Westworld) where visitors will be able to experience historic events first hand and immerse themselves into historic narratives.

We’ve created a new format for location based storytelling that visitors can experience through our mobile app. We enable cultural heritage destinations to build interactive guides that present their content through a streamlined storyline where visitors are able to hear historic characters talking to each other, peek into the past through augmented reality and solve puzzles, riddles and quests to collect rewards.

We believe our platform can help increase visitor engagement and interest of cultural content. Because our storytelling format is exciting, we believe we can drive foot traffic to destinations and locations that would otherwise be neglected due to the lack of tourist infrastructure or general exposure. We think of our platform as Pokemon Go! for heritage.

 

What recent milestones are you most proud of?

We have recently launched our first three interactive stories in two Slovenian historic towns and the National gallery of Slovenia that were very well received, by both the public and heritage experts alike. We’re also happy to have forged our first international partnerships in Austria, Croatia and New Zealand that will help us expand our business.

 

What excites you about the Booster Lab programme?

We'd love to share our insights and learn from the community, becoming part of it. Making culture, history and heritage more exciting and accessible to travelers and explorers is our passion, and we would love to be a part of the discussion surrounding opportunities and challenges in the sector.

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We are equally eager for Nexto to join the discussion! We’re sure the weekend will be inspiring, illuminating, and a lot of hard work. Tomorrow we’ll post the next startup story. Need to catch up on the action? Read back to yesterday’s post on The European Travel Company.

This Startup Will Take You on a European Safari

This Startup Will Take You on a European Safari

The next startup joining us at our Booster Lab in Barcelona is The European Safari Company. They offer experiences and accommodations that connect the traveller to a more authentic and natural Europe. Their website features excursions such as Wolf Tracking in Italy and a White Tailed Eagle Safari, and beautiful lodges, retreats, and ranches in the wilderness, under the stars, or nestled within the mountains. Supporting nature based businesses by connecting travellers to often difficult to find opportunities, The European Safari Company in turn helps create sustainable income for environmental conservation forces while truly unlocking destinations.

We spoke to Simon, co-founder of The European Safari Company (ESC), to tell us some more about his startup. This is what he said:

 

What triggered you to start The European Safari Company?

I have a passion for travel, tourism, hospitality and nature - I’ve been a safari guide, managed camps, built new operations, worked in sales and marketing and focused on community development. I believe nature and people have to learn to co-exist, which will be mutually beneficial. I see the history and landscapes differently than most - an offering of history, culture, people and nature all intertwined. Europe has a travelling market on its doorstep where access is becoming easier and smoother. I have developed a large number of community style businesses that work with nature and know the opportunity and possibilities...mostly I know that time with people in nature can bring people closer to who they really are, and help people in rural areas remain how they are. I have a knowledge on business development, and a passion to showcase Eco-tourism in Europe. Starting European Safari Company gave me the opportunity to show travellers Europe’s natural side and give back to communities and nature protection while traveling.

 

What does your startup do and what's the impact of your product/service on the travel industry?

The European Safari Company is pioneering authentic nature travel in Europe, by bringing real experiences to the everyday traveler and supporting wildlife comeback, we aim to stimulate community development by encouraging nature based businesses to grow and develop; always with a healthy positive engagement with nature. The ESC offers top quality authentic nature and wildlife experiences, integrating culture, cuisine and Europe’s diversity into experiences which aren’t normally known or accessible to the general naturalist or traveler; these are often hard to find or engage with. We offer a style of travel where all of Europe's culture, charm and wildlife are brought together in travel experiences, where guests have a direct impact on the sustainability of nature and communities - mutually sustainable.

The ESC work’s with new nature based businesses in more remote natural areas across Europe, which have a need for more visitors - we bring these businesses exposure and allow travellers to discover and book them. Supporting these nature based businesses provides and income and support for nature protection and provides and sustainable income model for communities in Europe.

 

What recent milestones are you most proud of?

We’ve recently launched a new destination for travel - Swedish Lapland - which takes our offering to six countries. More importantly, we have gained momentum and support through 50 travellers to 4 destinations over the last 6 months.

 

What prompted you to apply to the Booking Booster - Lab in Barcelona?

We need resource support and key development online, including a fast efficient and accurate booking platform that can generate live availability for all nature based offerings. With resource support and an automated system we will be able to focus on sales & marketing and development of the brand, and more importantly the feasible proof of concept in the next 10 months. We are also excited for the opportunity for learning, guidance and growth; networking with other startups and like minded entrepreneurs; and possible mentor-ship, exposure and funding as an end result.

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Next weekend is approaching quickly! Read more stories tomorrow, and as always, you can look back on yesterday’s post here!

CloudGuide: The App for Smart Sightseeing

CloudGuide: The App for Smart Sightseeing

A Barcelona based startup, CloudGuide, joins us for our Booster Lab next weekend with their imaginative and user-friendly app. CloudGuide brings together cultural institutions such as museums, monuments, parks and art galleries creating one app to manage them all. Transporting the often outdated print or audio guides to 2017, CloudGuide offers 100% official content for the traveller to access all on their phone. With advanced capabilities such as off-line viewing, multiple languages, exhibition maps, audio, video, tickets, and even an in-app gift shop, CloudGuide is transforming the relationship between the tourist and cultural heritage sites. The startup is also helping to spread travellers across different cultural sites and generating awareness for lesser-known institutions.

Two of the founders of CloudGuide, Cristina and Olga, told us a little more about their journey towards creating this app and the motivations behind it. See what they said:

 

What triggered you to start CloudGuide?

Every year almost 3 billion travelers spend their journeys visiting monuments and other tourist sites around the world. That's 10 times the population of the United States! And they all want to get to know something about the place they visit. But what do they get instead--some black and white paper booklet that they throw away right after the visit? A horrible, heavy, boring audioguide? A branded app that they will delete straight after the visit? That doesn't sound like a good experience. This results in a huge gap between the sites and their visitors: Poor communication, no opportunities to leave feedback or interact; No convenience for the visitor, limited choice of available services; Low level of engagement, no pre- and post-visit communication; No statistical data (nowadays some institutions do not even know their amount of visitors); No e-commerce opportunities. This is the problem CloudGuide aims to solve.

We are passionate travelers. We love to see the world, get to know different cultures. And one of the best ways to get to know them is through the cultural heritage sites. Therefore, we really understand the situation our users find themselves in: they get lost in the museums and cultural sites, face language problems, fall asleep in boring expositions and tours, read the brochure while taking a picture and texting their friend, etc. So we want to make their, rather OUR, traveling easier, more enjoyable and interactive and help discover new places.
 

What is CloudGuide and how does it impact the travel industry?

CloudGuide is a global tourist app for smart cultural sightseeing, uniting ALL cultural institutions and tourist attractions in ONE app with OFFICIAL content (guides and tours), offering a modern alternative to traditional audioguides and museum branded apps. It promotes smart traveling and aims to interconnect the site and the visitor and boost the communication between them.

CloudGuide aims to shake the cultural heritage industry and change the way people travel. Through the app smaller cultural heritage sites get visibility in front of travellers visiting nearby sites. In turn, this leads to income generation for these smaller cultural institutions.

Regarding the social impact, we aim to guarantee access to cultural heritage sites and content from all around the world through technology, to disperse the travelers from typically popular sites to lesser known destinations and to become the biggest channel where the cultural heritage knowledge is transmitted to younger generations.

 

Which recent milestones are you most proud of?

In July we received the Seal of Excellence of the European Union for CloudGuide Education project, focused on educational gaming in the cultural heritage sites for the young travelers. This year we've been selected as 1 of the 5 top travel startups of Spain at the Travel Innovation Summit, have been among the 10 top candidates for the Airbnb Travel Tech Award and have been selected to develop a digital solution for the Vienna State Opera at the Pioneers VC CultTech Hackathon. We have also attracted great clients and partners that we are very proud to work with: the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport of Spain, the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, the SMB Museums in Berlin, the Bozar in Belgium or the Moulin Rouge to name a few…

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CloudGuide will be with and the other 10 startups December 1-3 for our first ever Booking Booster Lab. We can’t wait to see how they grow during and after the weekend. Tomorrow we’ll tell you all about our next startup and if you want to read about Clean Travel, take a look at our post from yesterday!

 

A Platform to Find Your Next Clean Travel Adventure

A Platform to Find Your Next Clean Travel Adventure

A brand new social enterprise and another participant in next month’s Barcelona Booster Lab, Clean Travel, seeks to connect travelers to a cleaner, more sustainable, and local friendly market by guiding them to the many sustainable travel activities, tours, and experiences on their online marketplace. Having only launched last month and been founded a few months prior, Clean Travel has already gained impressive traction in social media, accelerator programs, and the sustainable travel community.

Mac, the co-founder, CEO, and seasoned entrepreneur, shared some insight to what led him to start Clean Travel and his greater goals for the company. Read his responses below:

 

What triggered you to start Clean Travel earlier this year?

I’ve seen the positive impact that ethical tourism can have on a disadvantaged community first hand. Five years ago I founded a social enterprise called Umbrella Trekking that offers tours in Nepal. Profits go to our partner charity, and we train former victims of trafficking as tour guides. Customers not only loved our tours but also loved what we were about and the idea that they could contribute to something larger.

Although we had great reviews and many recommendations, we struggled to reach an audience beyond our charity affiliation. We invested in setting up a user-friendly website, but it received minimal traffic.  Online searches of Nepal trips usually result in a blanket of paid advertisements that convince travelers that the multinational companies are the only way to go. These organisations dominate the online sales channels because of their huge financial resources and lead to a perceived lack of choice for travelers, especially those heading to the developing world.

With a little bit of research, I discovered that we were not unique; there are a lot of travel companies who exist to empower developing communities. They are doing amazing work throughout the world, but like Umbrella Trekking, are missing appropriate channels for them to highlight their tours.

This lead me to the realisation that rather than focusing on my own tour company, I could showcase this growing community on a platform, help it reach a larger audience, and scale all of our impacts!

 

What does your company do and what is the impact of your service on the travel industry?

We’re an online marketplace that connects you with activities and tours run by local ethical operators. You can have the time of your life and change a life by contributing to the communities that you are visiting. We showcase exciting single and multi-day trips run by organisations in partnership with home-grown charities or ethical operator groups. You can search, enquire, book and pay through our platform.

Tourism is a huge global industry, it contributed $1.4 trillion US dollars last year to the Global Economy and 1.8 billion travelers per year are forecast by 2030. Given its huge size, there is massive potential for this sector to have a positive social impact. However, multinational tour companies dominate the industry, which results in visited countries retaining just $5 out of every $100 spent by tourists.

Why can’t tourism, by being better shared locally, serve as the greatest form of wealth distribution that the world has ever seen? To meet this potential there is a growing community of local travel organizations that exist to support and invest in their communities, but they are currently being drowned out by multinational tour companies in online sales channels.

Clean Travel serves as a lightning rod to connect local tour operators online with the growing number of travelers who want to have truly authentic travel experience, ensuring tourism money stays in the country. Clean Travel will shake up the current tourism market by giving local tour operators a chance to compete in the online market. The current surge in socially conscious tourists presents a huge commercial opportunity, and Clean Travel is the vehicle that enables local ethical operators to cut through the noise and connect with these potential customers.

 

What recent milestones are you most proud of?

Our social media profile is growing fast, and we're booking trips already for 2018, but we’re most proud of the quality of local partners that have started to approach us about joining the Clean Travel Community.

We initially anticipated having to do a lot of groundwork and negotiations to get quality tour partners on board, but have been blown away by the level of engagement and interest that has been shown. Amazing local ethical tour companies have been approaching us, and this just shows how necessary and needed a platform such as Clean Travel is. Our message has really connected with them, and we’re proud that they recognise the potential of our growing community. This has led to over ten new exciting partners reaching out since we launched just last month.
 

What prompted you to apply to our Booster Lab?

I met with Anil from Backstreet Academy in Nepal in July, and he had great things to say about the Booster programme that Backstreet Academy participated in earlier this year. Their experience motivated me to keep an eye out for your next programme; I was very motivated to apply. Also, the high level of travel industry-specific expertise available and the ability to connect with the growing community of sustainable travel experts through this booster programme is first class!

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We’re counting down the days until we get to meet with Clean Travel team as well as all the other startups in Barcelona! Tomorrow we’ll post the next startup story. If you missed Friday’s post on Alternative Athens, you can find it here!

The Startup Introducing Travelers to an Alternative Athens

The Startup Introducing Travelers to an Alternative Athens

Get to know one of our startups participating in our first Booking Booster Lab in Barcelona December 1st through 3rd—Alternative Athens! They are the connection between the tourist and the non-touristic Greece. Alternative Athens facilitates thematic tours and activities ‘offering a genuine travel experience, connecting travelers with locals and helping them to discover the secrets of this fascinating, complex and diverse country’. They are highly regarded by a long list of travel stakeholders, CNN Travel, National Geographic, The Guardian, and the Telegraph, to name a few, and have been consecutive winners of the Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor for 4 years! Alternative Athens fosters economic growth in touristically underdeveloped areas by working exclusively with local businesses, be it small-scale hotels and hostels or local guides, all with the intention of creating an authentic travel experience for the average traveler.

We had a moment to ask Tina, co-founder of Alternative Athens, some of the motivations behind starting Alternative Athens, along with their impact and achievements. Here’s what she said:

 

What triggered you to start your business?

The Greek crisis was the kick in the butt I needed. I had worked in multinational companies for a long time; I had always wanted to create something of my own, but the safety of my life kept me back. So when everything was blown to pieces and the company I worked for ceased operations in Greece, I decided it was time to take a big leap.

The only clear thing in my mind was that it should be something I really loved. I had spent too much time working on things I didn’t care about, so my own company had to be about something I was really passionate about. I had never thought about turning travelling into a business. For the past 10 years I had been turning hefty corporate bonuses into trips to far away destinations where I would visit the main touristic attractions, but what interested me most was to see how people live, how they think, where they go out, how they eat, what the inside of their homes looks like. That was way before Airbnb etc., so I thought: “Why don’t I do in my own city what I do when I travel abroad?”. And I did.

Contrary to my previous business experience, I didn’t do any market research, marketing or business plans. I went with my gut instinct and created Alternative Athens, a project with the aim of showing people the true face of the city, away from touristic stereotypes, where travelers could experience the city and understand how Athenians live in their everyday life.

 

What does your startup do and what's the impact of your service on the travel industry?

The main problem we see in tourism is that it has become too impersonal, massive and commercial, a 'one fits all' commodity, that does not truly address the main objective of a traveler: To explore, to see the world from a different perspective and to have access to the culture of the place they visit.

Thus, Alternative Athens operates thematic tours & activities off the beaten track in Athens and beyond. We focus on the non-touristic aspects of Greece, offering a genuine travel experience, connecting travelers with locals - and helping them discover the secrets of this fascinating, complex and diverse country. Our tours include Food, Mythology, Neighborhoods, Street art, Greek Designers, Nightlife, LGBT etc. and our activities include Storytelling Walks, Role-Playing Games, cooked meals, cooking lessons at homes and activities for children.

The main impact we are bringing in the travel industry is that we introduce travelers to touristically underdeveloped areas throughout Greece, with the participation of local communities and for the benefit of local communities. In this way, we change the image of the country as a ‘Sea-Sun’ only destination, we redistribute the touristic income in a sustainable way for the destination and we create a whole ecosystem which is in line with the country’s morphology and social character: small-scale, authentic, with respect to its history and traditions.

 

What recent milestone(s) are you most proud of?

The Certificate of Excellence for a 4th year in a row from TripAdvisor, my inclusion in Greece’s most inspiring Female Entrepreneurs and the launch of day trips, which marks the beginning of our expansion to Greece with innovative local tours and experiences.

 

What prompted you to participate in this Booster Lab?

I have been working for a long time relying on my own strengths and have reached a limit of knowledge and know-how. We have created something very solid and unique in Europe, but we now need the support of experts that have been in this business for a long time and can provide us with some solid guidance for our next steps. Also, a fresh perspective of a knowledgeable outsider can help us look at things in a way we hadn’t even imagined. And last, but not least, it will be an opportunity to escape everyday reality and take a strategic look at what we do and why we do it.

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We’re very excited to work with Alternative Athens and all the other inspiring startups joining us in just a few short weeks. Stay tuned in the coming days for each of the startup’s stories. For a sneak peak, find an introduction to each on our previous post: ‘The 11 startups that will join the first Booster Labs weekend in Barcelona’.

The 11 startups that will join the first Booster Labs weekend in Barcelona

The 11 startups that will join the first Booster Labs weekend in Barcelona

Today we are announcing the 11 startups that will join our first Booster Labs weekend in Barcelona. The goal of the programme is to give early-stage startups the insights, tools and skills they need to grow and make an impact. 

The selected ventures will participate in hands-on workshops, attend insightful talks and keynotes, and have some fun too! The weekend will culminate in a pitch on the startup's roadmap and impact before an expert jury with the chance to win grants between €10,000 and € 25,000, as well as other prizes.

The 11 sustainable tourism startups are:

Alternative Athens

"Alternative Athens operates thematic tours & activities off the beaten track in Athens and beyond. We focus on the non-touristic aspects of Greece, offering a genuine travel experience, connecting travelers with locals - and helping them discover the secrets of this fascinating, complex and diverse country. Our goal is to expand our activities all over Greece, developing areas which are unknown or have important touristic potential, with thematic tours, self-drive itineraries and small-group escorted holidays. Our business model focuses on the collaboration with local businesses and individuals, in a way that promotes the local treasures in a sustainable way and capitalizes on the unique features of the Greek land and culture that are by definition touristically ‘anti-massive’. " - Tina, Founder of Alternative Athens.

www.alternativeathens.com/

Clean Travel

"We’re an online marketplace that connects you with activities and tours run by local ethical operators. You can have the time of your life and change a life by contributing to the communities that you are visiting.  We showcase exciting single and multi-day trips run by organisations that may in partnership with home-grown charities, ethical operator groups or Fair Trade certified and you can search, enquire, book and pay through our platform. The tours and itineraries, the quality of accommodation and the transport will be as good, if not better than multi-national providers. However, instead of staying in a generic international chain hotel, your accommodation in India is in a community lodge, whose profits help fund the local rural schools. Or else, while trekking in the Himalayas, perhaps your guide is a former victim of trafficking. These elements will bring unique insights to your travel experience." - Mac, Co-Founder and CEO.

www.cleantravel.org/

CloudGuide

"CloudGuide is a global tourist app for smart cultural sightseeing, uniting ALL cultural institutions and tourist attractions in ONE app with OFFICIAL content (guides and tours), offering a modern alternative to traditional audioguides and museum branded apps. It promotes smart travelling and aims to interconnect the site and the visitor and boost the communication between them. CloudGuide works with over 330 institutions in 13 countries, including the Vienna State Opera, Atomium (Brussels), Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam), Smithnsonian (Washington), Jewish Museum (Berlin), Miro Foundation (Barcelona), Sagrada Familia (Barcelona). CloudGuide has an opportunity to disrupt the cultural world and become the industry standard. CloudGuide aims to shake up the museum industry and change the way people travel. Make cultural heritage sites wake up." - Olga, Founder & CEO

www.cloudguide.me/

European Safari Company

"The European Safari Company (ESC) is pioneering authentic nature travel in Europe, by bringing real experiences to the everyday traveler and supporting wildlife comeback, we aim to stimulate community development by encouraging nature based businesses to grow and develop; always with a healthy positive engagement with nature. The ESC leverages off a growing wildlife tourism opportunity in Europe by providing an optimized direct route to the market for Europe’s leading and most interesting nature and wildlife tourism products and experiences directly linking nature travel to rewilding. The ESC will offer top quality authentic nature and wildlife experiences, integrating culture, cuisine and Europe’s diversity into experiences which aren’t normally known or accessible to the general naturalist or traveler; these are often hard to find or engage with. We offer a style of travel where all of Europe's culture, charm and wildlife are brought together in travel experiences, where guests have a direct impact on the sustainability of nature and communities - mutually sustainable." - Simon, Developing Manager

www.europeansafaricompany.com/

Nexto

"We are building a mobile platform that enables cultural tourism organizations (destination marketing agencies, heritage interpreters, creative agencies, etc.) to create engaging on-location gamified AR experiences. We are bringing destinations of historic and cultural significance to life by enabling on-location "escape room" type experiences with the concepts of gamification and AR on mobile devices. With Nexto, any historic location (ruins, castles, archeological sites) can become a gamified attraction. Our goal is to gradually replace the outdated audio guide concept with a new and immersive way of location based storytelling on your mobile device. We want to make visitors feel like they're Indiana Jones, exploring hidden and off the path locations. Especially with AR, we imagine heritage locations as theme parks of the future (i.e. Jurrasic Park, HBO’s Westworld) where visitors will be able to experience historic events first hand and immerse themselves into historic narratives." - Franci, CEO

nexto.io/

One Planet Rating

"'Tripadvisor for sustainability' One Planet Rating (OPR) is the world's first dedicated review platform for sustainable travel & tourism. Travelers rate Hotels, Restaurants, Cities, Sights and Activities based on sustainability, specifically environmental, social and cultural issues. One Planet Rating empowers travelers to search, rate and plan travel based on impact, anywhere in the world. One Planet Rating is built on three major premises; • Easy and fast to use – the platform is designed to cater to both the novice and the expert. You can rate easily visible factors such as the prevalence of organic food, litter free beaches or energy saving advice in hotel rooms to more in depth issues like fair wages and local heritage protection. Every time you use the platform you learn about other issues to rate for future visits – One Planet Rating is also an educational platform. • Race to the top – OPR acts as a complement to certifications - a reality check from the guests. User reviews push service providers to constantly compete and improve rather than settle for the minimum requirement, “check box” mentality of the certification model. • Mass market appeal - OPR gives everyone the possibility to find and rate any hotel, restaurant, tourist activity or city from day one and thus push their usual choices to do better on sustainability. We believe we can create positive impact on a wider scale by getting actors with little or no effort on sustainability so far to accelerate rather than trying to marginally improve existing sustainability leaders." - Richard, Co-Founder

www.oneplanetrating.com/

STUDIOMAPP

"STUDIOMAPP is a startup dedicated to develop services and products to improve the Quality of Life thanks to technology. STUDIOMAPP has a wide experience in Big Data, IoT and Data Science applications using FIWARE, the open cloud ecosystem developed by leading ICT companies in Europe and supported by the European Commission, and it was selected by one of the FIWARE Accelerators to develop Qirate. QIRATE is a location intelligence service that rates the liveability of a place and gives map based information in a tailor made set of quality indicators and preferences. QIRATE will also collect data working with local stakeholders and residents, aggregate public and private datasets to measure economic value and quality of life standards using analytics and reports of the urban ecosystem. We started to work with the support of the European Space Agency and NVIDIA to develop artificial intelligence algorithms to measure the impact of the touristic flows and the impact in the ecosystem according to phenomena like overcrowding and environmental and sociocultural effects associated with mass tourism to develop a scientific granular analysis on location, in order to provide analytics and tools to differentiate and grow touristic and accommodation offers, also in not fully developed areas." - Leonardo, Co-Founder and CTO

www.studiomapp.com/en/

subcultours

"subcultours is a booking platform for creative experiences offered by artists and creative entrepreneurs. Customers can see the artist profiles and can select their preferred date and suggest a price they are willing to pay. Artists can offer all kind of creative experience including a workshop, a tour, a personal storytelling part about their life and passion, a overnight stay, and anything according to their creative imagination. subcultours takes a 20% commission on each booking and charges a monthly/yearly membership fee from hotels and hostel partners who use the platform to find relevant artists for their own projects (e.g. in-house events, construction, designing). We change the world of travel to "traveling sustainably" by supporting all local craft workers, artists and creative entrepreneurs." - Katja, Founder

www.subcultours.com/

The Outdoor Journal

"The Outdoor Journal & Voyage is a media and travel booking platform, building a scalable and profitable business while promoting diverse and alternative voices, sustainable development and wilderness conservation. Our media platform builds a conscious community, who can then book the adventures they read about. Our business acts as a two-sided platform between outdoor enthusiasts and local operators, worldwide. For customers, we offer curated, high-quality, high-safety adventures across the globe; led by an editorial / media-driven customer acquisition strategy. On the supplier-side, we offer global reach to their target customers, with zero sales and marketing cost. We offer friction-less matching and ease of bookings for both sides." - Apoorva, Founder & CEO

www.outdoorvoyage.com/

tripUniq

"tripUniq is a tailored travel planning service made by locals. Nowadays, planning a stay is long and difficult for a traveler because of his lack of local knowledge. We believe that someone living in the city can do it faster and better and that’s why tripUniq connects travelers with Local Heroes. Depending on their interests we match travelers with their Local Hero alike. Once the order is placed, traveler and local can contact. Then, the Local Hero will create a tailored travel guide his stay (including daily itineraries ) using tripUniq’s Travel Guides Editor. At the end, the traveler gets the tailored travel guide through tripUniq’s App. Every Tailored guide includes daily maps, points of interest, general information, local tips, food suggestions and local events taking place during the stay. All the maps, images and information are available offline. Thanks to our technology tripUniq is more than a simple Market Place. The Guide Editor and the Apps multiply the benefits of the Local - Traveler exchange guarantee that the platform can’t be bypassed and create a competitive advantage with future competitors as Locals will already have created their contents in our platform." - Charles, CEO

tripuniq.com/

Xmigrations

"Xmigrations is the new marketplace in which you can book travel experiences like surfing, scuba diving, hiking and more. We are the solution for those who want to migrate from the city to the nature. Xmigrations works with a single merchant, in this early stage, for each destination and sport, offering to you only the best option and always under our brand of "Xmigrations". Xmigrations is ecological and innovative too. Ecological as with every reservation, we donate a percentage of our income to local environmental actions, introducing the environmental NGOS to the classic relation between tourist-enterprise. Innovative because we make immersive 360º EXPERIENCES APP videos in nature." - Manuel, CEO

www.xmigrations.com/

 

Learn how Awake uses tourism to protect biodiversity

Learn how Awake uses tourism to protect biodiversity

Meet Awake from Colombia. In 2008, Miguel and Laura’s lives changed forever following a trekking and kayaking expedition through the Magdalena River. Since then, they have been connecting with local communities in Colombia to offer the world authentic natural experiences in the most beautiful parts of the country. Their project supports rural communities who live in harmony with nature by giving them access to sustainable livelihood opportunities.

Find out how Local Alike empowers local communities through tourism

Find out how Local Alike empowers local communities through tourism

Meet Pai, Founder of Local Alike. Local Alike turned their vision of “community based tourism” into reality. How? Encouraging local residents to become storytellers and share their everyday life with visitors. A great experience for everyone looking for meaningful and authentic travel across Thailand.

The Good Hotel proves that premium hotel experiences can support a social cause

The Good Hotel proves that premium hotel experiences can support a social cause

Meet the Good Hotel Group! Can premium guest experiences support a social cause and foster human connection? The first Good Hotel in Antigua proves it’s possible! This initiative aims at giving work opportunities to long-term unemployed locals, offering professional training, supporting local family-run enterprises and providing quality education to the children of Guatemala. Cristina shares their ambitious goal for their project: opening 7 Good Hotels by 2020. Watch their full story: 

Mejdi Tours illustrates that tourism can overcome differences and conflicts

Mejdi Tours illustrates that tourism can overcome differences and conflicts

Mejdi Tours was founded by two friends: one Jewish and one Palestinian, and illustrates how tourism can overcome differences and conflicts. Aziz, Co-Founder: “There are always two sides to a story; we believe that you can only really get to know a destination by hearing intercultural perspectives. A tour with us is opening yourself up to the fact that there is more that unites us than separates us.” 

Can social enterprises fuel the future of global tourism? Visit.org thinks so!

Can social enterprises fuel the future of global tourism? Visit.org thinks so!

Can social enterprises fuel the future of global tourism and support local development? The answer is yes! This is the aim of Michal's project, founded in 2015 to bridge the demand for conscious and authentic travel with experiences offered by local do good organisations around the world. From anti-mafia walking tours in Sicily to eco-tours in Colombia, the platform has helped more than 500 social ventures create travel products with a direct impact on local communities.