Booster Lab Tel Aviv: The startups receiving grants are...

Booster Lab Tel Aviv: The startups receiving grants are...

Following three days of hands-on workshops, inspiring talks, one-on-one mentoring and a lot of hard work, all nine startups took the stage and pitched their business to our expert jury.

Each startup had four minutes to pitch, followed by a 4-minute question & answer session. At our second Booster Lab here in Tel Aviv, four startups received funding to grow their venture and impact on the sustainable tourism industry. 

The results

Israeli startups bitemojo and accessibleGo were both awarded the top grants of €25,000, while Questo (Romania) and Knowers (Israel) received €20,000 and €15,000 respectively.

“Participating in the Booster Lab was an incredible experience, mostly due to the outstanding mentors and experts who provided great insights, tips and help,” said Michael Weiss, Co-Founder, bitemojo. “It's completely another thing sitting with and receiving advice from the people that run and manage one of the most reputable and biggest brands in world tech and tourism today. That's a reward in itself for any travel startup.” 

Our partner, Pioneers Discover, presented Trailze (Israel) and Citynsider (Italy) 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 either - they each received vouchers towards accommodation.


Beyond the 3 days

All entrepreneurs will continue to receive mentorship from over the next 6 months. In addition to this, each startup has the ability to submit projects to our Volunteer Programme, and work with more experts who are keen to volunteer their skills.

We super proud of our second Booster Lab and all participants; startups, mentors, experts, trainers and the organising team.


The details of the next Booster Labs will be communicated through our website soon.

Over the upcoming months, we’ll share how these 9 startups, as well as the 11 that participated in the first Booster Lab in Barcelona, are growing their impactful ventures.

Booster Lab Tel Aviv: startups and experts learn from each other

Booster Lab Tel Aviv: startups and experts learn from each other

After a short night’s sleep, the startups are back in Mindspace for Day 2. This day is all about impact measurement and 1-on-1 sessions with experts.


Turning tourism into a force for good

On the morning of the second day of our Booster Lab Tel Aviv, the startups tackled what brings them all here together - their impact. Led by trainer, Ofer Flynn, our 9 startups pieced apart their inputs, outputs and outcomes, working towards quantifying the impact they seek to have on the travel industry.

After an intense working session post Impact Training, the startups headed to the roof to enjoy some falafel lunch and digest the information from the morning.


Meeting with's best

One of the biggest assets of the programme is the chance for these entrepreneurs to speak one-on-one with experts during four 45-minute sessions. The afternoon was devoted to this - they received guidance on everything from finance to marketing to product development and more and gained tremendous insight into best practises, tips and ideology that they can implement in their own business.


Creating some mindspace

In between one-on-one meetings with experts, startups, mentors and speakers, danced it out together to create some mindspace for the next sessions. Based on a improv theatre exercise, we got everyone on their feet to keep the energy high! 


Preparing for the big day ahead

After the office hours, the startups continued working on their Growth Roadmap and Impact Measurement Goals, taking into account all of the learnings from the past two days. As the startups submit their Roadmap tomorrow morning, we’ve left them to work independently for the rest of the evening.

Tomorrow is already the final day of the Booster Lab and we will conclude with the Pitch Event in Rise Tel Aviv. We can’t wait to see how these startups have defined their impact, solidified their growth plans and implemented advice to deliver inspiring and convincing pitch for our panel of judges and audience.


Booster Lab Tel Aviv: 9 startups get ready to grow their impact

Booster Lab Tel Aviv: 9 startups get ready to grow their impact

Today we kicked off our second Booster Lab in Tel Aviv! We brought together 9 early-stage startups from around the region that are making a positive impact on the tourism industry. Over the course of the next days, the entrepreneurs will attend workshops on Growth and Impact Measurement. They also have an opportunity to meet with mentors and experts and perfect their pitch. The 3-day programme will culminate in a pitch in front of our judges, where each startup has 4 minutes to pitch their business, roadmap and impact. 


Before our Growth workshop, all participants attended keynote presentations learning about, Booking Cares, travel trends, as well as learnings from seasoned entrepreneurs. 

Getting to know each other & building relationships


We also took time to get to know each other. To do this, we challenged teams to build the highest possible freestanding structure using spaghetti, string and tape; adding a marshmallow on top. This activity wasn't only great for learning more about each other, it also showed the importance of iteration. 

MAPPING OUT GROWTH ACTIONS for the upcoming year

During the Growth Workshop our Trainer Toot Shani talked about different growth strategies and shared examples of successful scaling stories. 

Following the plenary session with Toot, all startups worked on their Growth Roadmaps together with their mentors. The entrepreneurs put down their milestones and KPIs as well as actions to achieve them. 



We ended the day with a cosy dinner to continue networking.

Tomorrow startups will learn more about impact measurement, work on their impact stories, enjoy short talks on investment, social media, and strategic partnerships. The participants will also meet 1-on-1 with experts on various topics.

Stay tuned for updates. 

Outdoor fun for everyone - Trailze

Outdoor fun for everyone - Trailze

We can finally introduce you to last startup that will be joining us tomorrow for the kick off our Booster Lab Tel Aviv. Trailze seeks to create the first Outdoor Content Marketplace, providing non-adventures a concrete library of digital hiking trails. Making information user friendly and accessible, Trailze has solidified their customer base here in Israel already. We’re looking forward to see how Trailze can grow as a result of this Booster Lab Programme.

We spoke to Ronen Bitan, CEO of Trailze about his business, what they’re trying to achieve and what successes they’ve had to date. Read on to see what he had to say.


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What triggered you to start your business?

Being an active MTB rider and a senior navigation industry executive, I saw the need. 49% of Americans were active in the outdoors in 2016. However, 90% of them are not defined as Outdoor enthusiasts. They could not read a map, they do not feel familiar in nature and yet, do not use digital solutions. Current solutions are great for savvy users but the non-adventurers, the largest segment, are left behind. They need a whole new approach. Less choices, better guidance, trail insights and all that packed as a Trail, not an App.


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What does your startup do?

Trailze is looking to create the world’s first Outdoor Content Marketplace. Content is provided by top brands and local experts as a library where each trail is just awesome. Less choices but clear directions, secret places and related content, all provided in just few clicks. Premium trails will cost $5-10 to the end user and are carefully maintained and always up-to-date. Instead of looking at a huge list or endless Google results, users are encouraged to choose from a short list of high quality content. For the publishers, Trailze provides a new revenue stream for the content they already have but cannot sell in today's traditional market in any other way than books. Additionally, Trailze developed it's proprietary mapping and trail analysis technology (Patent Pending in US and EU) that will allow for big data collection, personalisation and a new level of planning in the near future.


What is the impact of your product or service on the travel industry?

We aim to connect people and nature. We do it by making their trips safe and easy. On top, we plan a social rating for the quality of trails and their creators. When searching for outdoor trail, people get dozens of results but relevancy is the key factor. Most of the data is not updated, most current solutions are built for Pro users. Then, while on route, people need clear directions and info. Lastly, today's Generation Z and Millennials do not use paper maps nor books and need a way to connect to nature via their screen.


What recent milestones are you most proud of?

Reaching 140K users and we’re soon to announce collaboration with a Tier I brand. We currently have over 120K users, 95% in Israel and about 15K active monthly. 1:80 Israelis have downloaded Trailze. Finally, in 2015 we won the European Satellite Navigation Contest.



Only 24 hours until Ronen and the rest of the startups and mentors get to meet each other face-to-face on the rooftop of Mindspace Tel Aviv. We’ll keep you posted on the programme ahead. If you want to take a look back at all the startups joining us here tomorrow, check out this blog.

Explore your next destination with Questo

Explore your next destination with Questo

Today we post our blog from Tel Aviv! Our programme team is arriving and getting everything set for the days ahead - we are super excited to welcome our startups on Tuesday. Our next startup transforms your travel experience into a quest - let’s introduce you to Questo! An app that provides self-guided tours through cities and museums that simultaneously boosts local economic growth.

We spoke to Alex Govoreanu, Co-founder and Chief Play Officer, about Questo, its start, traction and overall idea. See what he had to say.


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What triggered you to start your business?

The idea of Questo came during a trip to Rome, when after three days of checking-in at the most popular places in the city, we realized that the experience is not authentic and memorable. And so, we asked our host for recommendations and he advised us to visit a different neighbourhood, known mostly by locals. We went there and the experience was amazing. Vibrant streets, authentic food, cheap gelato, all you can wish. Afterward, we started working on developing the idea of creating authentic tours in the city. After many iterations, we realized gamification is key and so, Questo has begun!


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What does your startup do?

We offer playful self-guided tours of cities and museums. Each tour of ours is called a quest and requires the user to solve various clues and answer questions in order to discover new locations. With each clue solved, we offer unique stories and recommend authentic local businesses.


What is the impact of your product or service on the travel industry?

Questo helps travellers explore lesser known areas of the cities they visit while having fun and learning. At the same time, our users get the chance to contribute to the development of the local community by supporting authentic businesses and local causes. Last but not least, Questo is helping local guides monetize, by allowing them to convert their tours into paid quests in the app. Therefore, they can earn money from tours with a one-time effort.


What recent milestones are you most proud of?

Last week we signed the collaboration agreement with Alba Lulia, the first smart city in Romania. Our role will be to create self guided tours for the incoming tourists in the city. At the same time, we are happy to see that our product receives more and more attention. Recently, we were awarded the prize for Best Travel App in 2017 at the eTravel Conference in Bucharest and were also finalists at the Changeneers Challenge, a competition for startups with social impact organized by Impact Hub Bucharest.



We can’t wait to see what Questo and the other startups accomplish over the three days of Booster Lab. And, of course, we are eager to know which startups will receive grant funding at our pitch event on Thursday at Rise Tel Aviv. If you missed yesterday’s blog on Paratrek, you can find it here. Tomorrow we’ll introduce the last startup to join the Booster Lab.

Inclusive travel with Paratrek

Inclusive travel with Paratrek

The next startup to join the Booster Lab in Tel Aviv is Paratrek, who offers solutions for adventure travellers with disabilities, be it certain trails or even specially designed equipment suited to different disabilities.

We spoke to Omer Zur, CEO of Paratrek, about his business and what they’ve achieved to date. Read on to see what he said.


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What triggered you to start your business?

Paratrek was founded to promote inclusion. We see the right to go out to nature and experience it with all of its power as a basic right everyone should have. Nature heals. It gives you the opportunity to meet yourself and others in very sensitive places and grow from them. We offer tailor-made trips with suitable support to provide this opportunity to people with disabilities. We create a mixed group of people with and without disabilities. Then we get to know their dreams, abilities, and disabilities and offer the right trail for each and every one of them, as well as a suitable assistive devices that will answer their needs. It can be a Trekker - a special wheelchair for difficult terrain that we designed for trekking, or special harness for rock climbing for people who are amputees, and more. Every person should be able to go outdoors with the people he or she loves - if it's family, friends, class or other.


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What does your startup do?

We offer tailor-made trips with suitable, self-designed assistive devices and methodology. Every disability needs a different solution. We create those solutions. But there is much more than just the physical solution. As mentioned before, going out to nature for a person with a disability is not something easy, it's a full operation. He has to have someone he can trust. There must be a way to make him feel safe and not less important. He must feel part of the trip rather than a burden on someone else. To solve that, over the last 3 years we developed a methodology - The Paratrek technique that will help people to achieve their dreams of climbing mountains and get to new heights!


What is the impact of your product or service on the travel industry?

The social impact is great. Today we see that students or workers cannot take part in hiking trips with their classmates/co-workers, which leads to isolation and depression. This too, strengthens the prejudice opinion that people with disabilities can not take part in all activities and can not be fully included. Once we began offering people with disabilities the chance to fully take part in hiking activities, the social connections began to thrive, people started to open up and the disabled began strengthening their self-confidence. In a macro level, we are actively contributing to a desirable change in perception, by offering unique solutions that increase participation and equality in our society. People with a disability now feel part of the community they belong to.


What recent milestones are you most proud of?

This last October Paratrek had its second project with the "One Family Fund" organisation - a fund for victims of terror attacks. We're going to have a third one in the upcoming October - bringing 90 fundraisers from Canada who hike through Israel for 5 days with the victims of terror. We've sold Via-Feratta trips for 2 groups of 5 and 10 people to the French Riviera in 2017, and to Italy and Switzerland in 2018. We've sold trips and activities to the Ministry of Education in different schools around the country and different ages. We work with youth movements such as the "Boy-Scouts". We had a very successful pilot with ALIN- rehab hospital. In October 2016 we took part in a delegation for NSW Australia as part of the Spark festival (Funded by the AICC and NSW government), and started working on mission exchange between Australia and Israel. 



Only a few more days until we kick off our programme - Tomorrow and Monday we’ll introduce the final two startups and of course, during the programme, we’ll keep you updated.

Focusing the Sun - Lightheat

Focusing the Sun - Lightheat

The next startup participating in the Booster Lab in Tel Aviv is Lightheat. They use solar energy to not only heat buildings, but cool them, as well. Their potential impact is immense, as the heating and cooling of buildings accounts for 40% of fuel/electricity consumption. Having received the HORIZON2020 SME Instrument Phase 1 Grant, Lightheat has already been backed by some large players in their field. We are excited to see how we can push their business and impact over the course of next week’s programme.

We spoke to Christos Drongitis, R&D Manager and Managing Director Lightheat, to see where this idea came from and how it can mitigate the travel industry’s impact. Here’s what he said:


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What triggered you to start your business?

When I was working as a hotel manager in Greece, I grew to understand that their is a great need and opportunity for renewable energy used for the heating and cooling applications of hotels, factories and other large buildings.


What does your startup do?

We develop robotic concentrated thermal solar collectors that can reduce the consumption of fuels in the heating and cooling of buildings such as hotels and factories up to 60%. It does so in a practical and cost efficient way that has the very short payback period of less than 5 years without government subsidies.


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What is the impact of your product or service on the travel industry?

Hotels consume a substantial amount of fuel and electricity in their heating and cooling. This has a profound negative impact on the economy and the environment. Lighthouse Solar Collector (LSC) collects solar energy efficiently and replaces, in some cases, more than 60% of these otherwise-consumed fuels with solar energy. This has a number of positive impacts. Firstly, it reduces hotel cost that can lead to more competitive and attractive travel packages. It provides cleaner air in the area where many hotels are concentrated as standard heating and cooling practices are polluting. Finally, hotels that have adopted “Green” energy practices can market themselves to a new segment of the travel industry and become more attractive to potential customers. In general, wide-scale use of the LSC can reduce GreenHouse Gas emissions, mitigate the effects of climate change and increase the energy security of the region.


What recent milestones are you most proud of?

In November 2017, LIGHTHEAT P.C. received the Seal of Excellence for the proposal for the development and Market Uptake of LSC, in HORIZON2020 SME INSTRUMENT PHASE II.




We’re all set for kick off on Tuesday! We can’t wait to welcome all 9 startups and introduce them to their mentors. Only 2 short days after that until they’ll be pitching at Rise Tel Aviv for their chance to be granted up to €25,000.

If you missed yesterday’s blog about Knowers, you can find it here.  Stay tuned to hear about the final 3 startups in the coming days!

Get to know a new destination with Knowers

Get to know a new destination with Knowers

Nothing beats local knowledge, and our next startup participating in our Booster Lab Tel Aviv knows just that. Knowers harvests knowledgeable locals to provide insight, tips and tricks to travellers passing through. A human to human platform, Knowers ‘connects you to people, not links and texts’. Based in Tel Aviv, Knowers has currently launched their first version on GooglePlay. We’re excited to get to work with them to see where they can take their business and impact.

We spoke to Laurence Newman, CEO of Knowers about his business, their recent launch, and motivation for joining the Booster Lab next week. Read on to see what he had to say.


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What triggered you to start your business?

A friend of mine asked me to organise an event abroad. I accepted with pleasure, yet soon found out it would be quite challenging, as I didn't know the local language, culture and what was really good. Luckily, I found a local that was patient, knowledgeable and trustworthy, who completely made it worthwhile and a great success. I quickly understood, that locals are very valuable for people passing through new locations.


What does your startup do?

Knowers is a travel platform, that connects you instantly to the right locals for info, tips and on demand services.  Knowers will connect you to the most relevant local with the

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most relevant knowledge to answer your questions, saving you hours of research. A local will be ranked personally for the quality of their answers, so they'll strive to keep it top notch, relevant and fair.

What is the impact of your product or service on the travel industry?

On the traveller's side - Direct and personal answers from real people living in the places we're visiting. Allowing travellers to save time browsing the internet for hours, trying to connect the dots on their own. It’s fun talking to a person that knows all about the area!

On the local side, the platform allows us all to take part in tourism. To become micro-ambassadors for our countries, to monetise our knowledge and offer a service, to influence others and make a positive impact on visitors and the local tourism industry based on our experience and knowledge.


What recent milestones are you most proud of?

We were accepted to Booster Labs :) and we launched our first Android version on Google Play.


Why did you to apply for the Booster Lab?

We're very serious and passionate about we do. By the looks of your programme, we got the feeling that you are as well. Therefore we believe it will be a good investment of our time, and a great place to learn, grow and boost our startup.




We are looking forward to Knowers and the rest of the startups coming together next Tuesday on the roof of Mindspace Tel Aviv to meet each other and kick off our second Booster Lab.

Tomorrow, we’ll speak to Lightheat from Greece, so check back for that post. Check our blog homepage if you missed any of the previous posts or yesterday’s about FarmGuests.

Meet the 10 scale-ups joining the 2018 Booster

Meet the 10 scale-ups joining the 2018 Booster

We are buzzing with excitement today, as we get to announce the ten sustainable tourism scale-ups that will be joining the 2018 Booking Booster Programme here in Amsterdam in May. After the successful launch of the Booster in 2017, the 2018 Booster will follow suit. The three-week accelerator programme consists of a series of lectures, hands-on workshops and coaching, culminating in a final pitch to receive a grant of up to €500k from’s €2 million fund dedicated to scaling these sustainable tourism businesses.

With hundreds of applicants from all over the world, the ten startups joining the 2018 programme hail from six different countries and operate collectively across six continents, including Antarctica. Their businesses represent a diverse mix of innovative online marketplaces that connect travellers with inclusive travel experiences, cutting-edge technological solutions and initiatives that empower local communities to benefit more equally from the global tourism opportunity.

All the participating social enterprises will also receive several months of ongoing mentoring and coaching from experts, as well as opportunities and access to collaborate with on potential innovation initiatives and experiments to help accelerate future growth for the participating scale-ups.

“We’re thrilled with the 10 inventive startups joining us in Amsterdam this spring,” said our CEO and Booster supporter, Gillian Tans. “The relationships we build with these passionate entrepreneurs not only help fuel their continued growth, but also invigorate and inspire our entire company. Our aim is to build a network of like-minded organisations and individuals that are leveraging technology to create a more sustainable future for destinations worldwide. Through our collective commitment, we are striving to ensure that we can keep the unique destinations we all love happy and healthy for generations to come.”


Let's introduce you to the scale-ups and let them share their thoughts on participating in this year's Booster Programme. We can't wait to welcome them here in May! 


Community Homestay Network (Nepal)

Community Homestay Network is a platform for travellers visiting Nepal with a core focus on empowering women and cultural immersion by creating homestays and other tourism-based micro-enterprises in off-the-beaten-path communities.

“When I was kid, my parents would teach me to be patient and to work hard for good reasons. Someday, my hard work would surely be appreciated by the world. I lived that moment when I learned our project was accepted for the Booster.” Shiva Dhakal, President
“It means a lot to us. Not only people working in a company, but to all those communities who are involved in this project from the day one. It will encourage women of vulnerable communities. We would like to thank the Booster Programme for acknowledging our hard work. Thank you all very much.” Sudeep Singh, Manager


Global Himalayan Expedition (India)

Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE) organises 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 travellers to explore.

“The Booster Programme will be a great platform for GHE to build upon our work in the Himalayas, learn from experts and scale this initiative across various remote geographies of the world.” Paras Loomba, Founder
“To me, it means a world of possibilities and opens up several avenues for young startups like ours towards growth. To be a part of the cohort of the Booster Programme, it is an absolute privilege and we look forward to learning not just from, but also the fellow startups.” Jaideep Bansal, Energy Access Leader


HiveSters (Thailand)

HiveSters is a social enterprise that acts as a hub for sustainable, real Thai experiences, connecting travellers who look for authentic cultural interactions with local experts in Thailand’s largest urban areas.

“We feel empowered that our mission was supported and we believe that the Booster will open the door to unimaginable opportunities!” Achiraya Thamparipattra & Chayanich Thamparipattra, CEO & Chief of Fun


Hotel Con Corazón (Netherlands: Operating in Nicaragua)

Hotel Con Corazón Granada started as a 15-room boutique hotel in Nicaragua which opened in 2008 with the aim of investing all of its profits in education projects for underprivileged children.

“Participating in the Booster means to us a perfectly timed opportunity to grow our operations and education-impact beyond Nicaragua and Mexico. We are super excited to exchange experiences with other scale-ups. Together with these peers on the one hand, and the professionals on the other, we'll define the next step in our journey. A journey towards 50,000 hotel-guests making the world a little better. Year after year.” Marcel Zuidhof, Co-founder


Keteka (United States: Operating in Central and South America, Antarctica)

Keteka is an online marketplace of unique, off-the-beaten path activities with a focus on indigenous communities that are instantly bookable online.

“As a for-profit impact venture, it's difficult to find professional guidance that emphasises optimisation for both financial growth and impact. For us, the Booster represents a rare opportunity to receive that guidance.” Kyle Wiggins, Co-Founder & CEO


KITRO (Switzerland)

KITRO is the first, fully-automated food waste measurement system for restaurants and hotels.

“We are extremely excited to have been selected to participate in the Booster. Looking forward to boosting KITRO to the next level.” Naomi MacKenzie, Co-Founder



Reflow (Netherlands)

Reflow actively supports destination improvement by collecting plastic waste and transforming it into sustainable 3D printing material, used to build products for the hospitality industry.

“For Reflow, participating in this Booster Programme fundamentally represents opportunity. It provides us with the chance to learn from an iconic brand that has successfully scaled from a powerful insight into a major platform in the travel landscape... We’re proud to have been selected and are looking forward to seizing this opportunity fully and growing from it.” Ronan Hayes, Co-founder & CMO
“By helping us get ready to scale, find new customers and build an ‘engine for growth,’ we believe the Booster Programme will quickly help us get to the next level. We could not be more delighted to partner up to create a sustainable future everywhere.” Jasper Middendorp, Co-founder & CEO


Sakha Consulting Wings: Women on Wheels (India)

Sakha Consulting is an unique social enterprise, launched to provide safe transport solutions for women by women in selected cities of India.

“It means a possibility of offering Sakha an opportunity to fulfill its potential. We hope to gain new knowledge, new networks, new funds and equipped with all of it, we hope to reach out to hundreds of more women enabling them to break barriers and take on non traditional livelihoods that can potentially transform their lives. We are very excited at this possibility and thank you for inviting us!” Meenu Vadera, Founder


Tastemakers (United States: Operating in Africa)

TSTMKRS is an online marketplace that connects local insiders with curious travellers who want to see a different side of Africa.

“The support and validation of participating in the Booster Programme means we'll have the best experts in the industry giving us valuable insight into how we can scale our business, deliver on our mission, and add value to the communities we represent.” Charae Robinson, Founder & CEO
“Participating in the Booster means that I can continue exercise my passion of disrupting what the world thinks about Africa and its people. This great opportunity allows me to connect with a larger set of peers, mentors, and industry stakeholders. I couldn't be more excited!” Jeremiah Myers, COO


Wheel the World (United States)

Wheel the World is tackling the challenge of accessibility and inclusivity in tourism within the adventure travel sector for people with disabilities.

“Wheel the World seeks to redefine the way people with disabilities travel and enjoy the world. Having the chance to work with and other promising startups is an unbelievable opportunity to improve our value proposition, it's inspiring for our team and a great validation for our track record! We are looking forward to get the most from the Booster!” Alvaro Silberstein, Co-Founder & CEO
“It means a huge step for us! It is an extraordinary opportunity and a challenge to show the world that together we can change how people with disabilities, families and friends are travelling around the globe.” Camilo Navarro, Co-Founder

Enjoy a rural getaway with FarmGuests

Enjoy a rural getaway with FarmGuests

Looking to recharge? FarmGuests, the next startup to join us in Tel Aviv for the Booster Lab next week, connects tourists to agribusiness owners such as farmers, ranchers and winemakers providing experiences and stays in rural areas for travellers looking to reconnect to themselves and nature. Only a few months old, we’re excited to welcome FarmGuests to the Lab to grow their business!

We chatted to Maxim Kushner, CEO of FarmGuests to get to know him and his sustainable tourism business. Read on to see what he had to say.


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What triggered you to start your business?

I am 50% developer and 50% traveller having visited about 30 countries. Travelling means freedom for me. We are all seeking new experiences, and I finally understood that there is a big difference between just being a guest and and fitting in. A really good trip isn’t just about the views  - it is more about feelings.

So now my goal is to enable people to fall in love with new paths, to find a place to reflect on their emotions, ideas and wishes and to feel like they belong.


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What does your startup do?

FarmGuests is designed for enthusiastic travellers who choose agritourism as an alternative to traditional experiences. This platform allows both sides - rural tourists and agribusiness owners - to find and communicate with each other. Farmers, ranches and winery owners can share their experiences of rural entertainment, excursions, farm shops or volunteering.

We categorise every type of rural tourism, giving an opportunity for travellers interested in the new, and very “natural” experience, to find the best option of where to go and what to do. Whether it’s alone, with a family or in a group of friends you can live in authentic farming conditions, try the freshest fruits and farm products, learn how the huge plantations and small family homesteads work.

For someone who loves the nature and dedicates his life to the earth, it is a chance to learn about the living world around us, meet people who would like to discover a new kind of travel and get acquainted with a world of eco-tourism.


What is the impact of your product or service on the travel industry?

The travel industry constantly changes - it is like an ocean, with its tides and currents, and it is important to be alert to new trends in order to develop people’s experience. If we look back to a few years ago, there was a lot of interest in simply visiting new places, but times have changed and we find that people would like to not just stay, but live in these new places.

Now it is the right time to make the next step and help travellers become a part of the world they would like to explore. FarmGuests not only gives the chance to look from the outside, but to feel the local culture, to take part in rural life and become closer to nature. Not only does this create wonderful experiences for our customers, but also helps to create an environmentally-friendly society.


What recent milestones are you most proud of?

In than 3 months our team went from just an idea to a working solution, already connecting travellers to agribusiness owners. Every day is  a milestone and it is impossible to choose the best one.

We are small now and big events are yet to come, but when speaking about recent milestones, the validation of the Carmelim Tourism Association was very important for us. And the Booking Booster Lab acceptance for sure :)




We are delighted to have FarmGuests join us, along with the other 8 startups, in Tel Aviv next week to kick off our Booster Lab. Stay tuned to our updates to follow the startups’ journey through the programme.

Tomorrow we will introduce Knowers, another Israeli-based participant. If you missed yesterday’s blog post about Citynsider, you can find it here.

Your best friend all over the world - Citynsider

Your best friend all over the world - Citynsider

Many of us know the pleasure of having inside tips from a friend when we travel. Another participant in next week’s Booster Lab Tel Aviv, Citynsider, is trying to provide that experience to all travellers. Citynisder is a web community for young and curious travellers to share their travel experience, tips, tricks and advice. Bridging communities and dispersing tourism to local gems, Citynsider both enriches a travellers experience and fosters local economic growth.


We spoke to Emanuele Baroldi, CEO of Citynsider, to get to know his business and the motivations for its creation. Read on to see what he said:


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What triggered you to start your business?

We are six lifetime friends and all of us love travelling. During our experiences abroad, it often happened that we were in a new city without knowing where to have lunch, dinner or we would just hang out wasting hours trying to find the right place! This happens because the web provides you with a huge amount of information, not tailored to you and it's usually very mainstream and touristic. So we decided to create a platform that would have been "your best friend all over the world", providing few, tailored and reliable options - exactly as when you ask a friend for advice.


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What does your startup do?

We want to replicate the same process as when you ask your friends for advice: quick, reliable and personalised. We gather the user’s information using both social media and site navigation data to build an appropriate dynamic profile. We also collect local tips from our insiders and network in each city and use this data to match it against the user’s profile. This provides him/her with the best tailored and local option available without wasting time and energy looking through unorganised and mainstream information on the web.


What is the impact of your product or service on the travel industry?

Thanks to Citynsider travellers will not waste precious time looking for the right place anymore. We want to spread the local culture of each city and country seen through the eyes of real locals, with the aim of making people live unique and genuine experiences. This can be a small, but significant boost for local economies that nowadays struggle due to large corporations dominating the market. It also allows one to meet new people around the world, stimulating our sense of community. Moreover, our Insider Guide service will provide jobs to all those passionate Insiders that want to share their tips.


What recent milestones are you most proud of?

We raised a pre-seed round of €40,000 and we were selected among the best 5 startups from Impact Hub Milano for its 6-month Acceleration Programme (we received €30,000 in services and €20,000 cash). Then of course we are very proud to participate in the Tel Aviv Booster Lab!




Only one short week until Citynsider meets us at Mindspace Tel Aviv to kick off our 3 day programme. We can’t wait to see what they can accomplish towards growing their business, impact and network with the help of their mentor, trainers, experts, and the other startups selected to participate.

Yesterday we introduced you to bitemojo. If you missed it, check the blog. Tomorrow you’ll read about Israel start up, FarmGuests.

Taste the World with bitemojo

Taste the World with bitemojo

Today we introduce our second startup to participate in our Booster Lab in Tel Aviv, kicking off one week from tomorrow - bitemojo. Offering culinary tours using nothing but your smartphone, bitemojo connects travellers and locals to a series of neighbourhood eateries by which they can explore a city. Start a tour in Jerusalem and continue in Barcelona, Berlin, and more!

We spoke to Michael Weiss, Co-founder of bitemojo about his food tour venture and some of the achievements they have had to date. See what he said below:


What triggered you to start your business?

We lived and breathed the culinary tourism world for years, and are passionate about how food serves as a bridge between cultures, religion, travellers and locals. After witnessing this inspiring impact in Israel, we have decided to try and bring the 'bite revolution' to many more places, allowing travellers to enjoy true immersive experiences around great local food, while strengthening local business communities.

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bitemojo is answering the growing need of both travellers and locals to experience cities (whether the one you visit or the one you live) based on its best local cuisine. With nearly 50% of world tourism today considered culinary travelling, and as quality and healthy food is taking a bigger role in our life, food-related activities are becoming more and more popular. The problems people are facing with when they are looking for a food experience are 1) Overwhelming amounts of information, recommendations, tips, lists and content which leads to people staying in their comfort zone - tasting what is close to their hotel or home, 2) Costly food experiences. For instance, home dining experiences such as VizEat starts at €55-70 per person, and 3) Lack of flexibility and personalisation - most food experiences are not flexible and require you to adopt to the time and place of the experience.


What does your startup do?

bitemojo offers off-the-beaten track food experiences, that are flexible, personal and affordable - with nothing but a smartphone. Travellers don't need to be dependent any more on a group or a guide when it comes to local food experiences. They only need to download bitemojo, choose their preferred food tour, make an order and start immediately right after. Each tour consists of 6 delicious bites that are already included in the tour's price, 8-10 points of interest and a fun and exciting way to really locally immerse while traveling.


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What is the impact of your product or service on the travel industry?

We offer travellers a new, affordable, flexible and personal experience in a market that is currently dominated by dependent, non-flexible, and non completely affordable market. We offer all our experiences in 6 native different languages, and allow to deliver remaining bites from one destination to another. That gives travellers a global solution for a hyper-local experience.

Bitemojo also influences local economies in all our destinations. We increase the walk-in traffic for hundreds of small businesses, allowing them to enjoy quality customers that they may not have accessed otherwise. We help our culinary partners, that are highlighted for their unique contribution to the local cuisine, to become accessible to a broader spectrum of consumers by offering specialised bites at fixed rates between €2-5 through our technology, and we already see an increase in walk-in customers to these businesses. bitemojo shifts the way great local food is consumed: we encouraged the collaboration and interaction of users (Biters) and providers (Culinary Partners), by establishing local networks that preserve the smaller local enterprise.

What recent milestones are you most proud of?

We have finished 2017 with more than 40,000 bites consumed and $250,000 in revenue, and were just recently awarded as the best food tours technology solution by the WFTA - The World Food Travel Association.




We’re looking forward to meeting Israeli-based  bitemojo in Tel Aviv next week and getting a taste of Israeli start-up culture. We have 3 days of action packed training, mentoring, and keynotes to drive these startups’ business plans and impact, all in preparation for their pitch in front of a jury on 8 March in Rise Tel Aviv.

To read about accessibleGO, who will also be joining us for the Booster Lab, check our post from yesterday. Tomorrow we’ll introduce you to Citynsider, so stay tuned.

Accessible Travel with accessibleGO

Accessible Travel with accessibleGO

Today we introduce the first out of nine startups participating in next month’s Booster Lab in Tel Aviv. accessibleGO is a travel platform connecting like-minded travellers with disabilities. Its founders seek to, not only create a more inclusive tourism environment but also educate tourism suppliers on accessibility. Based in Israel and operating in the US, accessibleGO was launched only in 2017.

We spoke to Miriam Eljas, co-founder and CEO of accessibleGO to find out her motivations for this business and participation in the Lab. See what she said below:


What triggered you to start your business?

                                                         Miriam and her mother.

                                                        Miriam and her mother.

We started accessibleGO because we personally experienced family members facing the difficulties of travelling with a disability. Travellers with disabilities often cannot get the accessibility information they need, or receive incorrect information, leaving them in stressful inaccessible situations that could have been avoided. Knowledge is critical when planning a trip with a disability to know what is accessible and what is not. Separately, many online travel booking sites are not technically accessible for internet users with disabilities. We realised that a solution is within reach and set out to build a platform to solve these problems and offering unique booking solutions.


What does your startup do?

We are an accessible travel platform for people with disabilities offering bookings, reviews and community. We enable like-minded travellers with disabilities to connect and help one another to plan and book accessible trips, exchange reviews, find local travel resources and discover inspiring accessible travel content.


What is the impact of your product or service on the travel industry?

Through the exchange of accessibility information, travellers with disabilities are coming together and affecting change by sharing their experiences and demanding improved accessibility for all.  Through personal reviews, travellers can also improve misconceptions on what it means to be accessible as many businesses are not properly informed but will take an interest when their establishment is mentioned.

Our platform is propelling hotels, attractions and tourism businesses to realise the importance of meeting the needs of this large and important demographic from both a financial perspective and a general need for societal change.

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What recent milestones are you most proud of?

Our platform has been launched, bookings are being made and accessibility information is being searched and circulated. We've covered 30 USA cities in our trip resources and travel ideas sections and we are creating a community through the exchange of information our site. We've created 15 cross-promotional partnerships and launched a community blog section featuring 20 established travel bloggers with disabilities. Recent press coverage in niche publications like New Mobility magazine has also been an exciting milestone for us.


What motivated you to apply to the Booster Lab?

The chance to learn from the biggest travel network in the world would be an incredible experience for the team here at accessibleGO. While we are now in a position to move quickly and grow our startup and build upon on what we have created to date, the knowledge and expertise of would help position us in the right direction and catapult us towards growth. The opportunity for mentoring from industry experts in order to help us execute milestones on our roadmap would be deeply valued. We would also enjoy meeting and networking with other startups working towards a shared vision of sustainable tourism.






This Booster Lab kicks off in just over 1 week at Mindspace Tel Aviv for our 3-day jam-packed programme all to prepare for the startups’ final pitches on 8 March at Rise Tel Aviv auditorium. We can’t wait!

You can get to know each startup participating over the coming days via this blog. To read about all of them, see our blog post from last week!

9 Startups to Join our Booster Lab in Tel Aviv

9 Startups to Join our Booster Lab in Tel Aviv

We are excited to announce the 9 sustainable tourism startups that will participate in our second Booster Lab in Tel Aviv from 6 to 8 March 2018. The Booster Lab programme is designed to give these early-stage startups tools, guidance and, potentially, funding that will boost their impact and drive their success.

In this three day programme, the selected ventures will participate in hands-on workshops, attend insightful talks and keynotes, and be mentored by the best of Marking the end of the programme, each startup will deliver a pitch in front of an audience of industry experts and our jury, who will evaluate their roadmaps and impact, and award grants of between €10,000 and €25,000 to the programme’s most promising ventures. 

Read the profiles of the 9 selected sustainable tourism startups below. In the coming 2 weeks, we will share insightful interviews with each startup, so stay tuned for those.



“accessibleGO is the only full-service accessible travel platform providing search, reviews, and bookings of accessible hotels, cruises, transport and destinations worldwide. With timely insights, comprehensive resources, and a dynamic traveller community, accessibleGO is quickly becoming the number one travel resource for planning accessible trips. Initially, we are focused on domestic travel in the USA, while we will expand globally over the course of our roll-out plan. We are proud to be a part of the Priceline Partner Network. Our goal is to create a collaborative travel community for people with disabilities to support one another.”
- Miriam, Co-founder & CEO




“Every place has a story, and bitemojo tells it through it's best local cuisine. bitemojo is the first app to offer self-guided meaningful food experiences via smartphone only, targeting both international travelers, domestics and locals. Local cuisines are the best window to the heart and soul of destinations, helping to understand the culture, tradition and the society in the most exciting and tasty way. For travelers bitemojo offers 'biteTours' - immersive food experiences that takes travelers for 2-3 enjoyable hours, at their own time and pace, tasting 5-6 top local dishes and drinks, without being dependent on a group or a guide, and with maximum flexibility. For the local market bitemojo is offering the 'biteWallet' - a fun and exciting way to discover your own city, with a pack of bites that allows you to try dozens of outstanding new places in your city through hand-picked bites. Another key advantage of our experiences is the fact they are borderless, so travelers can start an experience in Barcelona and finish it in Rome, as all our bites are redeemable anywhere, everywhere, with a single click.”
- Michael, Co-founder


Italy, expanding to the Middle East

“Citynsider is a web community of young and curious travelers that share travel experiences and local tips on cities they have lived in. Thanks to Citynsider, you won’t waste time choosing among the overwhelming amount of options anymore. Citynsider will provide you with a few, select and tailored suggestions - exactly like when you call a friend that already knows both you and the city to have a couple of tips: quick and reliable! As travelers, we often found ourselves wasting hours walking around looking for a nice place to go. When you don't have a friend who can give personalised tips, or even better, take you to his/her favorite spots, it is extremely annoying and time consuming to find places that fit your needs and taste. Therefore, thanks to an algorithm, we can replicate that process and give tailored tips based on your characteristics and needs! Our aim is to gather the most passionate travelers to have the best and most genuine insider tips of the main cities worldwide to share with one another.”
- Emanuele, CEO



“FarmGuests is a digital platform connecting farmers to travellers, enabling them to host guests and provide rural tourism activities in addition to their eco stay and home-grown food. Focused on entertainment and leisure, our platform allows a traveller to look for rural tourism accommodations according to his/her needs, compare, and find a farm to stay, to have a lunch or where they can spend a few hours on their way. In a number of countries, rural tourism is considered a strategic direction for positively impacting the agribusiness in general. By connecting travellers to farmers and the farming lifestyle, we can increase the farms’ revenues, grow the agricultural industry, and create a positive impact.”
- Maxim, CEO



“Knowers is a human to human travel platform that connects travelers with knowledgeable locals via video voice & chat. Locals provide tips, information and on-demand services to travelers. Locals (Knowers), get to monetize their knowledge while travelers have a better, smoother, experience thanks to relevant, local information streaming when in need. We believe that everyone knows something you don't, and everyone is a local somewhere. Meaning, for the first time ever, we're creating a marketplace that everyone can take part in. We believe this will empower people, and allow them to monetize their knowledge, as they themselves are the asset.”
- Laurence, CEO


Greece, expanding to the Middle East

“We use lighthouse technology with solar tracking to focus sunlight on high-efficiency energy absorbers in order to achieve efficient collection of solar energy in the form of high-temperature thermal energy. Lighthouse Solar Collector is a simple solution with huge impact as it achieves a 60% reduction in fuel usage. It is easy to install and maintain with a payback period of fewer than five years. Globally, it is the first time that Fresnel lenses are used to collect this type of solar energy that can be installed on every building. For the first time, a practical, durable, efficient and cost-effective solution is developed and can contribute so significantly towards the need for heating and cooling of buildings.”
- Christos, R&D Manager & Managing Director




“Paratrek was founded to promote inclusion. We see the right to go out to nature and experience it with all of its power as a basic right everyone should have. Nature heals. It gives you the opportunity to meet yourself and others in very sensitive places and grow from them. At Paratrek, we offer tailor-made trips with suitable support, to provide this opportunity to people with disabilities. We create a mixed group of people with and without disabilities, then we understand what are the dreams, abilities, and disabilities of each and every one of the members, and offer the right trail for them and suitable assistive devices that will answer their needs. It can be a Trekker - a special wheelchair for difficult terrain that we designed for trekking, or a special harness for rock climbing for people who are amputees, and more. Every person should be able to go outdoors with the people he loves, if its family, friends, class or other.”
- Omer, Founder & CEO


Romania, expanding to the Middle East

“Questo is a mobile app for playful experiences around the world. We create gamified self-guided tours around cities which can be explored by going on a quest and solving certain clues, similar to a treasure hunt. Each quest has its own theme and is designed by a local, who must incorporate unique stories and authentic local businesses. At the same time, each quest can promote a local cause, such as the rehabilitation of a historical home or the financing of a local festival. For now, the tours in Questo are free to explore, but in the near future we will add some premium ones too, which will be purchased through the app.”
- Alex, Co-founder & Chief Play Officer




“49% of Americans were active in the outdoors in 2016. However, 90% of them are not defined as outdoor enthusiasts. They could not read a map, they do not feel familiar in nature and do not, yet, use digital solutions. Current solutions are great for savvy users but the non-adventurers, the largest segment, are left behind. They need a whole new approach. Less choices, better guidance, trail insights and all that packed as a Trail, not an App. Trailze is looking to create the world’s first Outdoor Content Marketplace. Content is provided by top brands and local experts as a library where each trail is awesome. Less choices but clear directions, secret places and related content, all provided in just few clicks. Premium trails will cost $5-10 to the end user and are carefully maintained and always up-to-date.

Instead of looking at a huge list or endless google results, users are encouraged to choose from a short list of high quality content. For the publishers, Trailze provides a new revenue stream for the content they already have but cannot sell in today's traditional market in any other way than books. On top, Trailze developed it's proprietary mapping and trail analysis technology (Pat, Pending in US and EU) that will allow big data collection, personalisation and a new level of planning in the near future.”
- Ronen, CEO



We can't wait for these startups to come together in less than two weeks to learn from the mentors, trainers, and each other, and grow their businesses and impact. We will keep you up to date throughout the programme, and of course, post the highlights and results of the Pitch Event on 8 March hosted in Rise Tel Aviv’s auditorium. Stay tuned for each startups’ in depth interview in the coming days.

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, 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 “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’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 experts, as well as opportunities and access to collaborate with 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 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’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’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 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


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 accommodations.


This is only the beginning

All 11 startups will continue working with their mentors for the next 6 months and will have the ability to submit volunteer projects and tasks for our 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.


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 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


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’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.



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 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+ 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.


In the coming months, all participants will continue working with their 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.


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 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 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!


We’re delighted to be in the city that tripUniq began to kick-off our first 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 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.



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.