has joined the travel startup accelerator trend by launching its own programme with a total fund of €2 million.
The Priceline Group’s own effort comes with a twist: it will only help and potentially support new businesses that are focused on “sustainable tourism”.
Theinitiative will take in a group of relevant startups (following an application process ending in March) for a three-week course of workshops, lectures and coaching sessions from members of the team and industry experts.
Each new business will then be able to pitch at a session in Amsterdam in June for a grant worth between €100,000 and €500,000.
Those that receive the grant will also receive weekly mentoring for a further six to nine months.
Booking.com says it will not taking board positions or taking equity from the startups in return for the funding grants, claiming it is “simply interested in receiving updates on how the ventures and the impact of their efforts are growing for up to five years after the completion of the programme”.
Eligibility, the company says, comes in the form of startups that have a “proven business model with demonstrable local impact (on the environment, cultural heritage or inclusive growth) and a readiness to scale to multiple destinations”.
The Booster programme comes following the launch of the company’s Booking.com Cares initiative three years ago, an internal project for employees to get involved in sustainable tourism projects around the world.
The company says it wants to “contribute to the ongoing health” of the destinations it has product in, “so that future generations can continue to enjoy them for years to come”.
There are plans to continue with the programme on an ongoing basis following the completion of the first wave of startups, an official says.