When it comes to social enterprise and travel, the most common association people draw is with the sharing economy. Services like Airbnb, Couchsurfing, and Nightswapping facilitate a way for travelers to go beyond the obvious and leave an impact the local economy in a way that’s entirely different from staying in a major hotel chain.
However, over the past few years, as responsible and socially-minded travel has become more of a priority for consumers, many in the hotel sphere are stepping up their game to provide alternative choices for travelers who want to visit a place and leave a positive impact when they leave. This is promising, as the more choice that consumers have when it comes to alternative travel and accommodation options, the more likely it is that they will choose something less obvious and mainstream.
The choice to forgo a large multinational hotel chain has benefits that go far beyond the individual traveler. While they are likely to get a more authentic and local-imbued experience, local business owners are more likely to thrive as well, as money spent at small, privately owned hotels, restaurants, and shops have a positive effect on the local economy that paying a major hotel group’s shareholder does not. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, travel and tourism generates “US$7.6 trillion (10% of global GDP) and 277 million jobs (1 in 11 jobs) for the global economy.” Just imagine the power of all that money going to local initiatives and small businesses. At Authenticitys, we’re fans of any urban travel initiative that aims to provide a realer, more authentic experience and results in a net gain for the community it’s based in or the people who work there. Here’s a look at some of the most exciting social enterprise initiatives happening in the hotel space right now: Located in the Wood Green area of North London, Green Rooms is a non-profit hotel who caters especially to visiting artists who are working in London. Sponsoring a wide range of exhibitions, events and performances, the space is intended to promote creativity, collaboration, and community all while providing an affordable place for creatives to work, play, and create. (no small feat in London). The hotel is the UK’s first hotel social enterprise project and is the brainchild of artist and entrepreneur Nick Hartwright.
Hotel Magdas in Vienna was a former retirement home and recently underwent a 1.5 million euro renovation. It is now one of the only hotels in Europe providing jobs to refugees and former asylum seekers. The hotel also offers training to former asylum seekers and is out to make a political statement that asylum seekers should be integrated into Austrian society via employment while their claims are being processed. The hotel’s 78 rooms each have their own unique, retro style making it a trendy spot that’s backed by a social conscience.
Located near Rome, in the Italian city of Asti, Albergo Etico (which translates in English to “Hotel Ethics”) is addressing the problem of under and unemployment of disabled people by staffing their hotel exclusively with people with disabilities. They also provide special resourced for guests with disabilities, including tactile maps, accessible rooms and parking, as well as specially designed tours for disabled guests.
The Andante Hotel in Barcelona is setting the standard for low cost and sustainable hotels, earning itself a Green Leaders Platinum certification from Trip Advisor with innovative green building and energy saving measures.
If you are a hotel working from a social enterprise mindset, get in touch with us! At Authenticitys we’re always looking for new partnerships and opportunities.