This summer, Sonoma County Tourism (SCT) entered into a new sustainable travel initiative to connect visitors with hotels that align with their eco-friendly values. The California wine country destination began a two-year partnership with Kind Traveler, a socially conscious hotel booking and education platform, to empower travelers to positively impact their local communities and the environment while on their getaways.
Through the partnership, travelers have access to exclusive rates and perks provided by participating hotels on the Kind Traveler website. When guests book one of these “Kind Hotels,” they will automatically donate $10 a night to one of three local charities: the Redwood Empire Food Bank, Sonoma County’s largest hunger-relief organization, serving 82,000 people; the Russian Riverkeeper, which restores and sustains the health of the county’s Russian River; and the Sonoma Land Trust, which protects more than 50,000 acres of productive and environmentally significant land. The $10 donation will either provide 20 meals, clean 250 lbs of trash out of a nearby waterway, or maintain a mile of local hiking trails.
Jessica Blotter, CEO and co-founder of Kind Traveler, says that the combined impact of these dollars across local markets can be huge. “As tourism is one of the largest economic contributors on the planet, it is possible for travel and tourism to address some of the planet’s biggest challenges which include fighting poverty, advancing environmental sustainability, protecting biodiversity, and reducing inequality.”
Blotter explains that the chance to give back satisfies each visitor’s need to ensure their dollars are positively impacting the destination they choose. “The SCT and Kind Traveler partnership creates a solution in making sustainable travel choices easy and transparent for everyday travelers,” Blotter says, adding that the two organizations invited selected hotels and local charities that supported the sustainability of Sonoma County. “100 percent of donations go to charity, creating a triple win amongst the traveler, charity, and hotel.”
The Sonoma County hotels partnering in this new initiative include Farmhouse Inn, Timber Cove Resort, Vintners Inn, Hyatt Regency Sonoma, Flamingo Conference Resort and Spa, The Sandman Hotel, and Hotel E. “Kind Traveler seeks to create partnerships with hotels that have existing initiatives in place to advance sustainability, wellness, and community impact,” Blotter says. “The curated hotel collection is largely focused on three to five-star boutique and lifestyle hotels, as such hotels have the most natural resonance with local community integration and impact.”
In addition to being part of an effort to give back to their local communities, the hotels benefit from the partnership by differentiating their brands, gaining access to a wider audience of conscious travelers, and creating a sustainability initiative that continually engages guests and team members.
SCT—which recently transitioned from a “destination marketing organization” to a “destination stewardship organization” to focus on protecting the area’s agricultural and natural landscape—and Kind Traveler are working together to market this new sustainable travel initiative to a wider audience of environmentally conscious consumers who are considering a trip to California’s wine country.
“The chance to give back is the perfect storm for the traveler looking to create a memorable and meaningful vacation experience,” Blotter says. “Science proves that when you give a charitable donation or volunteer, a chemical shift happens in your brain, causing one to feel happier, healthier, and more connected.”