If you’re like most of us these days, you probably enjoy saving money on travel. After all, discount booking and rate comparison websites abound to help us do exactly that. But what if you could make the world a little better while scoring an exclusive deal? You actually can—if you use Kind Traveler.
RewardExpert recently spoke with Jessica Blotter (CEO) and Sean Krejci (COO)—Kind Traveler’s co-founders—about the inspiration behind the give-and-get hotel booking platform and how you can use it to save money on your next vacation.
Inspiration and Founding
The story behind Kind Traveler begins long before its August 2016 launch date.
Blotter and Krejci met in San Diego in 2007. As their relationship progressed, they realized that they had a lot of the same passions as well as complementary skill sets. This led them to found a cause-marketing consultancy together through which they could work on creating positively impactful movements.
“We were both at a certain point in our lives where we wanted our daily actions to benefit the greater good in a big way,” Blotter recalled. “And when we went to Belize to see the Mayan ruins, go caving, and do other touristy things, we had an experience that changed us.”
“We were on a bus with other travelers, and mile after mile, we saw a lot of poverty,” she continued. “The bus became very quiet, and it was really hard to get excited about doing so-called tourist activities when we were surrounded by so much despair.”
When the bus stopped so they could grab snacks and water, dozens of emaciated dogs approached, begging them for food. Without hesitation, Blotter and Krejci bought as much dog food as they could carry and scattered it over the ground outside.
“More dogs came out of the woodwork to join in the feeding,” Blotter said. “And when we looked up, we saw that the other travelers on the bus were also walking out of the store with dog food. Everybody had smiles on their faces. Some were even laughing. When we got back on the bus, the mood had changed from somber to joyful. While we didn’t save the world, we had done something with the resources we had available in the moment.”
It was a feeling that stuck with the couple and led them to start building the Kind Traveler platform a short time later. After four years of testing, developing and forging partnerships, they launched the website with 21 hotels in 11 destinations.
That number has expanded rapidly. By the end of 2016, visitors to Kind Traveler’s website could find more than 40 participating hotels in 16 destinations—including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Mexico and the Caribbean—as well as 34 charity partners. The pair expect to adding hotels in destinations such as Hawaii, Seattle, Portland, Sonoma, Vegas, Boston, Atlanta, Canada, London and more in 2017.
How Kind Traveler Works
“As the first give-and-get hotel booking platform, people can use Kind Traveler to get exclusive hotel rates of up to 25 percent off as a reward for donating to their choice of local or global partner charities,” Blotter explained.
Simply visit the website, select a destination, and then enter your travel dates and number of guests. You can then view that destination’s participating hotels and average rate per night with the discount. For example, between May 25 and 28, the Serrano Hotel in San Francisco is offering a $25 discount in exchange for a $10 donation to a Kind Traveler partner charity. This reduces the average nightly rate from $190 to $165.
“After you make the donation, our automated technology will transport you directly to the hotel’s reservation page,” Krejci said. “It will autofill the information you already entered on Kind Traveler as well as unlock your discount code. You can then book directly with the hotel.”
Under Kind Traveler’s model, 100 percent of every donation goes to the charity organization selected. Because they recognize that charitable giving is personal, Blotter and Krejci have deliberately chosen global charities that align with 10 core causes ranging from animal welfare and human rights to the environment. Each hotel has aligned with a charity in their particular community as well.
For vacationers who want to do even more good on each trip, Kind Traveler publishes neighborhood guides for each property.
“When you go to a hotel’s microsite and select Neighborhood Guide, you’ll find restaurant recommendations, cultural and adventure activity suggestions, and opportunities to Do Good for the Day,” Blotter added. “These are all things that have heart and meaning behind them. We realize that travelers want a hands-on experience but don’t always have time for a two-week volunteer vacation type of trip. We encourage them to get involved in another way, maybe with a short-term volunteer opportunity, or bringing some school supplies, or just visiting an animal shelter. You’ll find actual, visceral activities you can participate in for every neighborhood.”