And we’re at the end of the first week already! On Sunday 10 entrepreneurs from around the world arrived, buzzing to be in the Dutch capital as part of Booking.com’s first ever Booster Programme. 

Ana-Carolina & Cristina (Good Hotel) with Peter Verhoeven (Managing Director EMEA at Booking.com)

Ana-Carolina & Cristina (Good Hotel) with Peter Verhoeven (Managing Director EMEA at Booking.com)

Usually we’re so busy working in the business, now we actually have time to work on the business”. – Scott Cooper, Mejdi Tours

Kicking off the week was meet and greets of course.  From tourism to protect biodiversity in Colombia to breaking the cycle of poverty by enabling social dining experiences in India, our entrepreneurs and their businesses are a diverse bunch.

 

Think big

Each entrepreneur already makes big impact but has even bigger ambitions… Asked what the front page of a newspaper would report about their ventures in eight years time, only the sky seemed to be limit!

‘100 Million People Now Drinking Carbon Neutral Water’- Desolenator

‘New Way of Travelling Helps Millions Out of Poverty’ - Backstreet Academy

‘Tour Company Wins Nobel Peace Prize’- Mejdi Tours

Priyanka Deshpande, Authenticook

Priyanka Deshpande, Authenticook

Grow

But, how to scale their businesses to get there is the million dollar question? As part of the programme, Booking.com and the Impact Hub offer answers through workshops with industry experts.

In order to be ready for growth, your business model and customer base must be clearly defined and tested.” - Martin Ruckensteiner

Martin Ruckensteiner on scaling

Martin Ruckensteiner on scaling

Zoom in on your customer

Because understanding your customer is the pumping heart of any successful business, we held workshops to get the entrepreneurs to dig deeper in thinking about who they’re talking to.

“Jane, a young mother of 2 who wants her kids to broaden their minds by experiencing different cultures in a safe environment. She’s my customer.” Michal – Visit.org

Tourism: a force of good

Miguel and Laura (Awake) in conversation with Pepijn Rijvers (Chief Marketing Officer at Booking.com)

Miguel and Laura (Awake) in conversation with Pepijn Rijvers (Chief Marketing Officer at Booking.com)

The entrepreneurs had discussions with academics and private sector leaders to discuss how tourism can be shaped to provide a more sustainable future.

“Government bodies can come up with all the frameworks they like but ultimately it’s the private sector, such as these startups who can have impact by providing employment. Especially to groups often underemployed, like women. This can make a big difference to local communities”, said Martine Bakker, Sustainable Tourism Development Consultant.

Hans Meyer, Co-founder and Managing Director of Zoku said, “The people you employ are your business. Our business is build on the power of working with nice people, you can teach someone skills, but you can’t teach someone to be a nice person. And make sure to constantly test and evaluate your service together with your customers, complacency won’t get you anywhere.” 

‘Responsible’ travel?

But what do buzzwords such as ‘sustainable’ and ‘responsible’ travel even mean? And when should they be used? Ellie Clearly, former Booking.com employee turned travel blogger helped the entrepreneurs unpick these questions and make ‘responsible’ travel, more accessible.

It wasn’t all work and no play! The entrepreneurs enjoyed Amsterdam sights, tasted Dutch delights such as IJ biertjes and bitterballen too! And let’s not forget the biking of course! We put the entrepreneurs through their paces by holding a bike pitch session where each enterprise pitched their venture on a bike! All are still alive... See you next week!

Akash and Jamon, Backstreet Academy

Akash and Jamon, Backstreet Academy