After several years of working in corporate communications, I wanted to do something different. I took time off to share my skills and expertise with social enterprises in Sri Lanka. After I had come back, I knew I wanted to spend the next years of my career working with startups that are making a positive difference in the world.
In my current role at Booking.com, I get to do exactly this. We just launched a new initiative called Booking.com Booster, a programme through which we search for and support startups in sustainable tourism.
For the past three years, we have contributed to improving destinations all over the world by volunteering our time and expertise through the Booking Cares Volunteer Programme. Every Booking.com employee can spend a day a year working on projects with our local NGOs and nonprofit partners in sustainable tourism.
With our new Booking Booster Programme, we aim to turn tourism into a force for good by supporting a selected group of extraordinary startups. These startups look to scale their businesses and have a global impact, working toward a more sustainable future for the tourism industry. We want to empower startups that positively impact the environment; social businesses that are creating an enhanced destination experience by promoting and preserving cultural heritage; and unique enterprises that are supporting local communities in the tourism industry.
Since applications opened on January 23, we have had a fantastic response, and we have enjoyed reading about the impact startups are making in tourist destinations everywhere. Interested? The application process is open until March 1. Then we’ll have the difficult job of selecting the most promising startups to join us in Amsterdam for a 3-week programme co-designed with the Impact Hub.
The programme focuses on helping startups look at their business from different angles, work on their scaling plans and fine-tune their pitches. At the end of the three weeks, they will pitch their plan to a panel of judges, who will decide how our two million euro fund is divided. We will also introduce all the startups to a Booking.com mentor who will work with the team to execute their ideas.
I’m very curious to see what this first year of the Booster will bring. So far it has been an incredible ride. To keep up to date with the programme, check in regularly at booster.bookingcares.com.