Traveling can be one of the best experiences a person can have yet we often don’t stop to consider how our actions may be able to positively benefit the wellbeing of local and global communities and the environment. The United Nations designated 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development—a chance to raise global awareness about how responsible tourism can act as a vehicle for positive change.
While many travelers have a desire to do good and help out the communities they’re visiting, many aren’t sure where to start. That’s what Jessica Blotter realized while on a trip to Belize with Kind Traveler’s co-founder, Sean Krejci, in 2012.
Though the two had set out for an adventurous trip to see the Mayan ruins, they found they couldn’t ignore the devastation and poverty they witnessed throughout the country while they traveled. When their bus made a pit stop at a convenient store where emaciated dogs were digging for food nearby, the two took decided to take action and bought whatever dog food they could find to feed the starving animals.
When other travelers on the bus saw what they were doing, they joined in to help out, sparking a positive change of energy between everyone that lasted long after they got back on the bus. “We noticed when we got back on the bus the mood went from somber and sad to joyfulness and laughter. Everyone was talking, reflecting on what just happened. We had such a sense of fulfillment,” Blotter said in an interview.
Two people took one lasting experience and used it as a starting point to make the world a better place.
Shocked at how they had unintentionally inspired these travelers, Blotter and Krejci left Belize wondering how they could continue to inspire others in a similar way.
“The feeling stayed with us a long time and we started thinking about how we could make a difference. We realized none of our travel dollars went back into the community, so we started thinking about the travel industry, how we could transform travelers into a source for good, and how we could create a movement,” she said.
After four years of development, from the time they left Belize to conceptualizing the idea, and creating the platform, they launched Kind Traveler, the world’s first socially conscious ‘Give + Get’ hotel booking platform that transforms the hotel booking process into a chance to make an impact on the world with just a $10 donation.
When people use the platform, they can ‘give’ a $10 nightly donation to a local charity that positively impacts the community they’re traveling to, or, to their favorite charity on the platform. And in return, travelers ‘get’ an exclusive rate to book directly with Kind Traveler’s curated properties. 100% of the donations raised on the Kind Traveler platform are given to charity.
Another way the company is different: They connect travelers with socially conscious hotels and encourage travelers to consider the hotel’s ‘Kind Factors’ -- the term they use to explain how the hotel is impacting individual wellness, sustainability, and community. This unique way of telling the hotel’s story communicates a commitment to corporate social responsibility.
“Our win-win platform offers solutions for everyone,” Blotter said. “For travelers, they become warriors for good and support hotels that are making a positive impact in the world – while receiving exclusive hotel rates. For hotels, they cultivate new relationships with cause-minded consumers and take another step towards corporate social responsibility. For charities, they receive 100% of donations and a new, sustainable channel for fundraising.”
Last year alone more than 1 billion trips were taken.
And Kind Traveler sees that as 1 billion opportunities to transform travelers into a force for good, not only on a local level but on a global level as well. The company’s goals are purposefully aligned with the United Nations' Global Goals for sustainable development: preventing poverty and hunger, protecting the planet, and promoting wellbeing for individuals and animals.
Aside from the give back component of the platform, Kind Traveler also recommends short-term volunteer opportunities and a conscious neighborhood guide for the hotel and destination travelers will be staying in. Whether someone wants to volunteer with wildlife or help clean up the beaches, Blotter wants travelers to have the opportunity to address hyper-local sustainability issues.
“Our goal is to help people connect with a cause and find out what they’re passionate about. We want people to see how easy it is to give back. Our hope is when they return home they’ll be inspired to get involved in a deeper way, whether they make it their lifestyle, or they get involved in their local community.”