Meet the First Woman-Owned Give + Get Hotel Booking Platform, Kind Traveler
A different type of booking platform that positively impacts the communities visited!
According to a study by World Tourism Forum Lucerne and Aptamind Partners, only 5% of CEOs are female while half of the employees in the industry are women. In honor of Women’s history month and spotlighting the 5%, Women.com spoke to the CEO, and co-founder of Kind Traveler, Jessica Blotter.
Kind Traveler is a different type of hotel booking platform. It is the first give + get hotel booking platform that empowers travelers to positively impact the communities they visit. In addition to being founded by a female Entrepreneur, Kind Traveler partners with women-owned and women-led hotels in destinations ranging from the Caribbean to California.
If you are interested in hearing more about Kind Traveler, keep scrolling!
Before Kind Traveler came to be, can you tell us more about your personal background as a female entrepreneur and how the idea of Kind Traveler was created?
My career began as an earth science and math teacher with UCSD's Pruess School, a charter school for low-income students who strive to become the first in their families to graduate from college. I then spent 10 years as an associate publisher and advertising director with popular print & digital magazine start-ups in San Diego and Los Angeles.
My entrepreneurial journey began when I launched a brand consultancy where clients included hospitality brands such as Marriott Hotels.
After launching and growing a brand consultancy in Los Angeles for several years, my heart longed for a way to combine my passion for travel and entrepreneurship with a higher purpose that would help end suffering in the world.
During a trip to Belize, my co-founder, Sean Krejci, and I witnessed heart-breaking poverty, polluted swamps, and the plight of emaciated dogs on the streets. As animal rescue volunteers in the U.S., we had a difficult time ignoring the begging dogs. We made a choice to feed the dogs and unintentionally inspired other travelers to get involved. The feelings of helplessness turned to hope as we yearned for a way for our travel dollars to make a lasting, meaningful impact in the local community.
When we returned home, we asked ourselves: "What if we could create a way for travelers to easily make a meaningful positive impact within the communities they visit and in turn, be filled up with a greater sense of joy and purpose while traveling?” After years of development, the answer was KindTraveler.com.
Since then, I've done numerous talks globally about sustainable tourism, social impact, and social entrepreneurship. I also serve on the Board of Directors for the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) in D.C.
Throughout your entrepreneurial journey, what female figure has been your biggest source of inspiration?
Jane Goodall is my biggest source of inspiration. She understands the importance of the interconnectedness amongst all living beings. She has dedicated her life in helping others understand the special connection that exists between humans and the natural world, in helping to grow empathy and understanding that can ultimately heal the world.
In addition to being founded by a female entrepreneur, how is Kind Traveler a female-forward company?
Most of our internal team is female, as well as most of the independent contractors we work with for web development and marketing services. We highlight women-owned and led properties as well as encourage others to share their stories on our blog, social media, and newsletter. We continually seek to educate travelers to support women-owned businesses as well as charitable causes that support women and girls. It’s a point of pride to lift other women in this space and a source of inspiration.
What were some of the challenges you faced while creating, Kind Traveler?
Some of the challenges we experienced were in the very initial phases as we looked to partner with our first hotels and charities -- and did not yet have a working website or platform. Only mocks of the website existed for years as we built the platform. We had to seek out partners and brands that believed in our vision and mission and wanted to be there on the ground floor. Since Kind Traveler is highly focused on motivating positive impact in local communities, it requires us to align new charity partnerships for every new community we have hotel distribution. This can also be very time consuming and laborious.
How is Kind Traveler different from other travel booking agencies?
Kind Traveler, a women and veteran-owned public benefit corporation, is the first and only Give + Get hotel booking platform that creates an opportunity for travelers to give back to local charities in the communities they visit. Through our Give + Get model, Kind Hotels offer exclusive rates and perks upon a minimum of a $10 donation to a locally vetted charity, or to a charity of choice.
100% of donations are given to charity and travelers will also learn about the exact impact of their donation. Every booking comes with a positive impact report with measurable impact metrics and an opportunity to plant trees with Arbor Day Foundation. Travelers will also learn about hotel initiatives to advance sustainability, individual wellness, and community impact.
Can you elaborate on the range of destinations travelers can book on Kind Traveler?
We’re proud to say that we’ve expanded to 22 countries and continue to expand our global network. We know that the more choices, the more we can scale kindness at a much more impactful level.
Some of the newest and exciting international properties are Six Senses Zighy Bay (Oman), Six Senses Ninh Van Bay (Vietnam), Six Senses Laamu (Maldives), Six Senses Samui (Thailand), Six Senses Yao Noi (Thailand), Six Senses Kocatas Mansions (Turkey), Six Senses Zil Pasyon (Seychelles), Six Senses Bhutan, Six Senses Douro Valley (Portugal), Hotel Villa Lapas (Costa Rica), El Mangroove - Autograph Collection (Costa Rica), Hotel Punta Islita - Autograph Collection (Costa Rica), Fushifaru Maldives, Cervo Mountain Resort (Switzerland), Grand Hotel Zermatterhof (Switzerland), Arosa Kulm & Alpine Spa (Switzerland) and Nira Alpina (Switzerland).
How does impact tourism create a positive impact on local communities?
Impact tourism, also known as traveler’s philanthropy, is a key driver in advancing positive impact to regenerate local communities and the environment. Impact tourism is defined by the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) as tourism that makes strategic contributions of time, talent, and treasure to social and environmental projects in destinations. Such contributions occur amongst tourism businesses, travelers, and organizations in partnerships with host communities.
With charities connected to both the environmental sustainability and social equity of communities, helping to fight poverty, advance education, and more, it’s pivotal for the private sector within the travel and tourism industry, an industry that accounted for 10.4% of GDP in 2019 and one in every ten jobs worldwide, to consider charitable integrations in business practices as a pathway to advance the United Nations’ Global Goals for Sustainable Development.
Can you please highlight some of the causes you can donate to through, Kind Traveler?
We have 10 core causes on Kind Traveler and 100+ charities that are actively advancing the UN Global Goals. Causes range from wildlife conservation, environmental sustainability, human rights, public benefit, arts and culture, and more.
A $10 donation can go a long way. Here are a few examples of what a $10 donation can do
Plant 10 trees with One Tree Planted, helping to restore forests and create habitat for biodiversity Provide a clean water filter that serves up to 2,500 per day with Imagine Thailand Foundation Provide three weeks of food to three rescued wildlife patients with the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW Clinic)
There is currently a “Win This” contest! Can you tell us more about it and how to Enter?
We host a vacation giveaway monthly on Kind Traveler with our partnered hotels. They typically range in value from $2-4K. Every giveaway also includes a donation in the name of the winner to the local charity that’s aligned. Here’s a look at our current giveaway: https://www.kindtraveler.com/content/win
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received and/or do you have any advice for other aspiring female entrepreneurs?
If a solution doesn’t exist, create it. Women are amazing problem solvers. We cannot sit idle when something or someone needs us. When it comes to the welfare of our planet, people, and animals, there are no limitations on opportunity and need. There is no time like the present -- and we cannot afford to wait.
Do you recommend a specific book, movie, or TV show to our viewers?
Jane Goodall’s “Book of Hope” My Octopus Teacher on Netflix “Regeneration” by Paul Hawken Podcasts: How I Built This, Soul of Travel, Travel With Meaning, The Trip That Changed Me
We Want to Hear From You
Have you booked a vacation through Kind Traveler?