You may know that last June we held our first-ever Booking Booster, which supports startups creating a more sustainable travel industry. We invited 10 startups to Amsterdam for a three week accelerator programme, and gave each the chance to pitch to our judges for a grant of up to €500,000. It was a huge success, so in December, we opened applications once again. After hundreds of applications and a lot of deliberation, we were able to select the next 10 enterprising startups to participate in the Booking Booster 2018. This time, they’ll be looking to take home a share of €2,000,000 in grant funding. And they all just arrived in Amsterdam last week!
This year’s Booking Booster welcomes 20 representatives from 10 startups from around the globe, hailing from Thailand, Chile, Nepal, and more, and whose startups are diverse in both product and focus. But what they all have in common is that their startups provide a creative and effective solution towards transforming the travel industry for the better.
The Booster isn’t just about the funding. Instead, the three weeks are dedicated to helping each startup in four key areas: creative leadership, investor readiness, movement building and growth hacking – through workshops, training, and our Booking.com mentor sessions.
Supporting these startups in their various missions is a group effort, with many of our colleagues across different departments and levels lending a hand. Each startup has been paired with a Booking.com mentor, who will not only guide them through the programme, but continue to advise them for months to come, regardless of whether or not they have been awarded any funding.
While this is an invaluable opportunity for the startups to gain access to the knowledge within Booking.com, it proves to be equally as valuable for our mentors many of whom remember their own entrepreneurial pasts. As Brendan Cartledge, a mentor from one of our Booking Booster Labs, says, “it reminds me of being back in my startup many years ago; the energy, the passion of these people, the challenges they had to deal with.”
For others, the time spent with the startups gives them ideas on how to incorporate their new knowledge in their role at Booking.com. “It’s great to see how startups work and validate their ideas. This is something I can potentially also use in validating ideas for my team” says another previous mentor, Ard Blok.
It’s not just the mentors who get to interact with the startups and their sustainable tourism missions, some get involved through other channels. Several meet with startups for expert sessions during the programme to provide tailored and specific feedback in their speciality. But even after the programme comes to an end and all participants have returned safely home, our employees still have a role to play.
Each startup can submit projects to our Booking Volunteers programme, enabling our 17,000+ employees can contribute their time and expertise. Last year’s participants were able to achieve great things via this initiative, whether is was creating a new app with the help of our UX designers, structuring their brand new customer service department or translating their 75,000 word website into English.
It’s just one week to go until the end of Booking Booster 2018, culminating in the Award Ceremony in the centre of Amsterdam, where we will see which startups will take home a share of the €2,000,000 grant funding. Results will be announced on the 1st June 2018. Take a look on the Booking Cares website, blog or Facebook to find out more about all the sustainable tourism initiatives we’re supporting , and follow us to see how we continue to collaborate with all our startups.
In the coming months, we will be hosting more initiatives: such as the Booking Booster Labs, which are a compact 3-day accelerator programme for early stage startups and the Booking Cares Fund, which is our fund for dream projects that can revolutionise the sustainable travel industry.
You can find more information at bookingcares.com.