When most people begin making travel plans, their first concern is usually what they will get out of their vacation. They usually don’t consider how their trip will impact the community they are visiting.
That is beginning to change thanks to Kind Traveler, the first “give and get” hotel booking platform that enables travelers to become effective change agents while enjoying a relaxing vacation. When travelers book with Kind Traveler, they give a donation to a charity that their hotel has partnered with. In return, guests are rewarded with a discounted booking rate.
The website is the brainchild of co-founders Jessica Blotter and Sean Krejci. The two were first inspired during a trip to Belize, to visit the Mayan ruins. “We were traveling by bus to the ruins and as we went, there was such a disconnect between the trip we were experiencing, and what was outside,” Blotter explains. “There was just poverty everywhere, which made it impossible to fully enjoy the trip.”
As their bus made a final stop before reaching the ruins, Blotter and Krejci decided to do something a bit unusual. They purchased dog food from a nearby rest stop and began feeding some of the stray dogs in the street. Before they knew it, the other passengers on the bus began to feed the dogs as well.
This experience made Blotter and Krejci realize all of their traveling companions wanted to help the stray dogs, but they needed a catalyst to take action. They began to wonder how they, and other travelers, could continue to give back when traveling beyond this single trip.
“When we went back on the bus, the entire sentiment had changed after doing something good— the mood became lighter, and we could enjoy ourselves more,” Blotter says. Upon their return to the States, the pair began to brainstorm how they could make giving back a part of the travel experience.
That was four years ago, and now Kind Traveler has been fully launched. Travelers must donate a minimum of $10 per night before booking their hotel directly online, and receiving their discount. Kind Traveler users have the option of donating to a local or global charity, and 100 percent of their donations will be given directly to the cause they select. Education, animal welfare, disaster relief, and health are just some of the causes users can choose to donate to. Additionally, each hotel is given a “kind factor” explaining how the hotel is impacting individual wellness, sustainability, and community. This way of telling a hotel’s story communicates to travelers that the hotel they are booking values corporate social responsibility.
Travelers can currently choose between 21 hotel offerings and 27 charity partners. Within its first year, Kind Traveler aims to add 20 to 25 hotels to its North American market, as well as add locations in Europe.
Blotter explains the main goal of the site is for travelers to become a force for good, and for the website to serve as the catalyst for relationships between guests, hotels, and charities. The booking site hopes to set itself apart from the rest of the market by using the lens of kindness. “We really want people to find deeper meaning in everyday life and travel,” Blotter says.