The moment we have all been waiting for over the past three weeks has finally arrived. During this great journey, the 10 Booster startups learned a lot from their Booking.com mentors and coaches, and now the recipients of a share of the €2 million Booking.com fund have been announced.

 After hearing the final pitches of the startups at NEMO in Amsterdam, the panel of Booking.com judges awarded this year’s Booking Booster top grants to Backstreet Academy, Seabin Project, Awake and Authenticook.

 Here come the highlights of the award ceremony:

 

A WELCOME FROM GILLIAN

Gillian Tans (CEO Booking.com) kicking off the grand finale

Gillian Tans (CEO Booking.com) kicking off the grand finale

Gillian Tans opened the event by introducing the final pitches of the startups. She also reminded the 200 attendees of the live event about what Booking.com has done so far to promote a culture of sustainability in tourism, and explained why this commitment is so important to the company.

 “For the past three years we have contributed to improving destinations all over the world by volunteering our time and expertise through our Booking Cares Volunteer Programme. Our 15,000+ employees have been making a difference by partnering with local organisations that are working on sustainable tourism initiatives all across the globe”

The Booking Booster was a natural continuation of this path and a unique occasion to make Booking.com’s expertise available to today’s most promising startups that can shape the future of the tourism industry.

Pete (Seabin Project) answering the questions of the judges

Pete (Seabin Project) answering the questions of the judges

 

TIME FOR THE FINAL LIVE PITCHES

Each startup had just 3 minutes to pitch their scaling plan to the 5 judges and persuade them to vote for them. If you think this was the hardest part, think again: every pitch was followed by a 7 minute Q&A session, which all startups handled brilliantly!

 

Authenticook and Local Alike celebrating their Booster success

Authenticook and Local Alike celebrating their Booster success

“The ambitious creativity and innovative ideas we’ve seen from all of the startups who joined our Booking.com Booster Programme this year were truly inspiring,” said Gillian Tans, CEO of Booking.com. “I was particularly impressed with the entrepreneurial vision they all demonstrated in approaching a wide array of different challenges related to sustainable tourism. I’m really looking forward to seeing their plans unfold over the coming months and years, and to following the future successes of these amazing companies as they continue to bring their vision for a more sustainable future for the global tourism industry to even more destinations worldwide.”

 

 

 

AND FINALLY THE LONG AWAITED MOMENT COMES

And then came the big announcement! Backstreet Academy (South East Asia) and Authenticook (India) got their full scaling funding needs granted of €400,000 and €200,000.  

The other startups that are being awarded part of their requested grants are: Seabin Project (Australia & Spain) for €350k; Local Alike (Thailand) for 300k; Awake (Colombia) for €300k; Good Hotel Group for €300k; and Desolenator.org (Global) for €150k.

“Being a part of Booking.com Booster has been amazing,” said Jamon Mok Zixuan, CEO and Co-Founder of Backstreet Academy, also adding that the team now wants to “bring the concept of impact travel mainstream and implement it globally with the help of the Booking.com network.”

 

Teams of  Local Alike, Seabin Project, Backstreet Academy, and Awake celebrating

Teams of  Local Alike, Seabin Project, Backstreet Academy, and Awake celebrating

 

“It’s been great to connect with other like-minded entrepreneurs from around the world as part of Booking.com Booster,” said Somsak Boonkam, Founder and CEO of Local Alike. “We’ve learned so much from this experience and are inspired to take our vision for inclusive community-based tourism to more destinations and people around the world.”

 

WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS

This exciting adventure started by Booking.com was only the beginning of an ongoing collaboration aimed at making a lasting impact on the world of tourism, as Gillian pointed out:

“For us, the journey doesn’t end today. For the next 6 to 9 months each startup will receive mentorship from Booking.com experts to help guide them in the growth and development of their businesses. They also become part of a network of organizations working to make the travel industry more sustainable.

Together, we’re confident that we can continue to build a more sustainable future for the global tourism industry—one destination at a time.”