1. About the Booking Cares Fund 

A. Why is Booking.com doing this?

In helping travellers to explore and experience more than 146,000 unique destinations all over the world, Booking.com also seeks to contribute to the ongoing health of these same destinations so that future generations can continue to enjoy them for years to come.

For the past five years we have contributed to improving destinations all over the world by volunteering our time and expertise through the Booking Cares Volunteer Programme. Our17,500+ employees have been making a difference by partnering with local organisations that are working on sustainable tourism initiatives all across the globe.

In 2017 Booking.com launched the Booking Booster, a three-week accelerator programme for scale-ups dedicated to sustainable tourism, culminating in an opportunity to pitch for grants of up to €500,000. With the Booking Booster, we aim to turn tourism into a force for good by supporting a select group of extraordinary startups as they look to scale their businesses and impact globally.

Booking.com wants to make a positive, lasting impression on the global tourism industry. We know that change is a process carried out by an entire ecosystem. An ecosystem where travel operators, researchers, NGOs, institutes, social enterprises, and government entities are working hand in hand to create a more sustainable future for the global travel industry.

Therefore in 2018, Booking.com also launched a grant fund to support pioneering non-profit initiatives in sustainable tourism. The Booking Cares Fund champions sustainable tourism projects in their search for new and unexpected solutions that reimagine the tourism and travel space. With the Fund we support projects that strengthen local communities, preserve and promote local culture, help disperse tourism more evenly and protect natural resources.

The Booking Booster Programme, The Booking Cares Labs and the Booking Cares Fund have all been specially designed to support important players in different sectors throughout the entire sustainable tourism ecosystem. By identifying, funding and mentoring early stage startups, social enterprises scale-ups and the non-profit projects from universities, governments and NGOs that bring them all together, Booking.com can help make an even more meaningful impact to affect real change and guarantee a healthy and sustainable future for thousands of destinations all around the world.

 2. Eligibility 

A. Who is eligible to apply?

Any project leads, over 18 years old, representing a non-profit legal entity or social enterprise, with an original idea for a project that reimagines the tourism and travel space to strengthen local communities, preserve and promote local culture and protect natural resources are eligible to apply.

Project ideas can come from all over the world, representing universities, non-profits, research institutes and governments. Leaders with bold, ambitious ideas to truly transform the sustainable tourism industry will be awarded with grants.

Entries will be judged on a project’s potential to produce meaningful change that can scale.

B. How can I manage an innovative project next to my regular job?

We are looking for teams who are already pioneering change and working to create a more sustainable future for the travel industry. Managing the project should be a natural extension of your day-to-day job and an expression of your passion to transform the travel industry. The entity you represent for this project should provide you with full capacity and a mandate to lead the project towards success.

C. The entity I represent is structured as a for-profit entity.  Can I still apply for a grant?

Yes, as long as you meet our other eligibility criteria. The Cares Fund seeks applications for innovative bold projects that create meaningful high-impact change in sustainable tourism, regardless of profit or non-profit structure.

The Booking Cares Fund will only award grants to one-off projects that are new, innovative and have a high R&D component. If you’re looking for support to scale up your social enterprise (dedicated to sustainable tourism) please read more about out Booking Booster programme here.

D. Are grant funds paid to the individual applicant or to an affiliated entity (e.g., university, agency, NGO)?

The grant funds will be paid to the legal entity represented by the project. Applications can involve multiple stakeholders, but only one of the legal entities will have the role of budget keeper.

 3. What we fund

A. How does the Booking Cares fund define an "innovative project"?

We invite projects that reimagine the tourism and travel space to strengthen local communities, help disperse tourism more evenly, preserve & promote local culture and protect natural resources.

The project should have demonstrable and achievable impact. Think of experimenting with a new product design, actionable research, a new unexpected partnership between travel companies and so on.

We will especially look for projects with the following characteristics:

  • Driving innovation in sustainable tourism: We are looking for projects that are disruptive, ground-breaking and transformative. It must have a truly inventive character, not just a tweak to current practice.

  • Meaningful change that can scale, geographically or through sharing best practices: The best ideas positively impact as many people as possible or have real potential to. The grantees are experimenting with new models that have the potential to produce meaningful change that can scale.

  • Backed by data and measurable results: When ideas aren’t backed by research and data, impact is harder to accomplish and measure. We look for innovations that break down big problems into small ones, and then test and iterate solutions.

B. How much will the Booking Cares Fund award to a project?

The Booking Cares Fund is open to ideas and opportunities and will exercise flexibility at our discretion.

C. What is the duration of approved dream projects?

The project should have demonstrable impact and progress within 12 months.

D. What types of projects are not eligible for the Booking Cares Fund?

Application is not open for:

  • Requests to cover ongoing operating costs

  • Projects with activities to propagate a religious faith

  • Projects with activities to propagate a political party or affiliation

  • Scholarships & study abroad programmes

E. Does the project have to be linked to the Booking.com product in some way?

The Booking Cares Fund encourages you to look at whether there are possible connections to Booking.com’s products and services and how your project can add value for Booking.com’s customers in the near future, but a direct link to Booking.com’s products and services is not required.

 4. Application

A. Who will select the successful applications?

A panel consisting of a cross-functional team at Booking.com will review applications with the input from external experts on sustainable tourism.

B. Will I know who reviewed my application?

No, we do not share the identity of our grant reviewers.

C. Does the application have to be for a new project, or can it be for a project already in progress?

Yes, it should be for a new project. However, the project can be a pilot and/or experiments as part of a larger ongoing programme run by the organisation(s) you represent.

D. Who will see my application and will it be kept confidential?

Your application will be reviewed by the review panel and shared with a select group of Booking.com employees. We never share applications publicly without consent.

E. Can I apply for more than one project?

No, the Booking Cares Fund only allows one submission per team per year.

F. My application was declined. Can you share the review panel comments?

Unfortunately our small team is not able to meet with all applicants in person, but feel free to contact us at caresfund@booking.com for any useful feedback that we might be able to share.

G. I’m not sure if my proposal meets your criteria. May I schedule a personal interview or phone call to review my proposal before I decide whether to apply?

Unfortunately our small team is not able to meet with all applicants in person, but feel free to contact us at caresfund@booking.com with any questions you might have.

 5. After grant awarding

A. When can I expect to receive my grant award payment?

After you receive the announcement of a successful grant application (yay!), you will be asked to sign a payment acceptance form. We will transfer the funds after you return the completed paperwork.

B. Does the Booking Cares Fund require progress reports or project updates?

If you receive a grant from the Booking Cares Fund, you will be required to submit quarterly progress reports on the project, including budget updates and newly gained insights and learnings.

C. I have made some changes to my project plan after the grant was awarded to me. Does that affect the grant I received?

If you have made minor revisions to your project plan and the intended use of funds is consistent with the proposal we approved, you do not need to notify the Booking Cares team. For any major updates, please reach out to our team to communicate the desired changes beforehand at caresfund@booking.com.

D. Is it possible to change or extend my project dates after my grant has been awarded?

Preferably not. But If the reasons are legitimate, project dates can be extended after checking in with the Booking Cares team. However, an extension will not result in additional funding. https://www.fund.bookingcares.com/terms-and-conditions.