We had the chance to attend the Booking.com Connectivity Hackathon, held in Zoku, Amsterdam, on November 25th and 26th.
The opportunity to get back on these 2 days of exchanges, reflections, design and implementation with our partner Booking.com on a project that is particularly important to us, developing a new standard to define the level of eco-responsibility for vacation rentals.
Why did we choose a project on sustainable tourism?
The difference between the first hackathon proposed by Booking.com and other hackathons we have already had the chance to attend, is that there is no directive, no theme, no constraint, not on the subject nor on the technical side. This really opens up a lot of possibilities, but now, which project to submit?
We asked ourselves several questions: what project would make Booking.com stand out from other OTAs? What opportunities are there in our industry in constant motion? Could we find a common interest that we could serve with this project?
If you follow us for some time, it will not have passed you by that humanitarian, social and environmental commitment is part of our DNA andbecoming a leader in the development of sustainable tourism, and local communities is one of our dreams.
For its part, Booking.com has already been involved in eco-friendly tourismthrough several initiatives:
- Booking.com is the only OTA that offers a section dedicated to eco-friendly gestures, encourage guests to "adopt sustainable practices so that travelers discover a planet worth exploring".
Booking.com has been supporting sustainable projects for several years via its program Booking Cares
Booking.com has formed with other big players (Visa, CTrip, ..) the Travelyst, which has the ambition “to change the impact of travel, for good."
At the same time, there is certainly an opportunity that presents itself, as 70% of Booking.com customers say they want to travel following sustainable practices*. Yet who has ever tried to find an eco-friendly accommodation online? It's almost mission impossible ..
So, here we are, we have common values, we have a strong demand around sustainable travel, all that remains is to write everything down in a proposal and submit it: a new standard to promote properties that have adopted sustainable practices.
* Source: Sustainable Travel Report 2019 published by Booking.com
So, what about the 2 days?
We brought together our dream team, an eclectic mix of profiles (designers, marketing, developers) to first define what we had in mind about this standard and what we could accomplish with it during these 2 days.
It quickly became clear that the easiest option was touse specific amenities to define the level of sustainability of a property. Booking.com already had 3 amenities; we added 9 more:
Organic food & beverages
Paperless / recycled paper
Information about property sustainability
Sustainability projects support
Rainwater harvesting system
No single-use plastic
No single-use toiletries
Towels changed upon request
Renewable energy system
As soon as they were defined, the BookingSync / Smily team started adding these new eco-friendly amenities to our list of equipment (we took the opportunity to reorganize this section which needed a little more clarity!) and synchronizing the 3 amenities already present on Booking.com.
We communicated the news to our customers by email on the second day around 10am and the impact was immediate, with a particularly high opening rate, more than 65%, and more than 600 properties having selected at least one of these amenities by 3pm.
In parallel, we also worked with the Booking.com teams on thedefinition, application and verification of the standard. We opted for 3 levels, depending on the number of sustainable amenities offered by the property. A label will clearly designate properties that have adopted sustainable practices and the level will be indicated in the amenities section. A filter will allow travelers to see the properties labeled "eco-friendly" so that they can make their choice with the best level of information!
It also seemed obvious that, if we wanted the maximum number of properties to be promoted as eco-friendly, the verification could only be done through the most uncompromising experts: the travelers, who are always delighted to give their feedback, at no additional cost! We had already thought about adding some questions to the review request to simply validate the presence or not of the selected amenities.
The icing on the cake ? We also took the opportunity to synchronize the BookingSync / Smily property description to the Booking.com host profile. You will soon be able to describe your sustainable practices in your description to make travelers want to stay at your place even more! Stay tuned!
What’s next ?
Of course, this project was too big to be completed in 2 days (even with our dream team), but we are quite proud and happy to have defined the path to carry out this project in collaboration with Booking.com.
The 9 missing amenities should be added on the Booking.com extranet, synchronized from BookingSync and labels and filters set up on the public pages of Booking.com and on our generated websites.
Want to join us on the road to sustainability?
Promote your eco-friendly practices by selecting the corresponding equipments in your BookingSync or Smily interface! The more properties that go down this path, the sooner all these changes will come to life and together we will be able to offer a sustainable alternative to travelers.
If you want to know how to make your property more eco-friendly, do not hesitate to check out the blog post we published on this topic.