Lonneke de Kort in this interview introduces us to the web portal BookDifferent.com and her latest initiative, Care for Destinations. A passionate entrepreneur, mom and avid traveller, Lonneke shares her hopes, experiences and where she sees the main challenges and priorities for tourism on its long journey towards sustainability.
- BookDifferent.com: its purpose and how it works;
- How Care for Destinations aims to push for a more sustainable tourism through consumer pressure and traveller reviews;
- How tourism compares with other industries in terms of sustainability;
- Key lessons Lonneke learned as social entrepreneur: her challenges and successes;
- How OTAs, such as Booking.com, “tick” and why despite their massive potential to become change agents for sustainability, they often fall short of their possibilities.
Lonneke, having started your professional career in the fashion industry, do you remember what triggered your interest in focusing on tourism and sustainability instead?
Yes, I certainly do remember what triggered my interest in sustainability. When I started working at Esprit, there was just a winter and a summer collection, nothing more and nothing less. But over time the turnover targets rose and the only way to push growth forward was to sell more products. Together with the rise of consumerism, the logic answer was to sell more collections, and more often. We ended up selling 12 collections per year, each month a new one.
The tourism industry has done exactly the same thing: offering too much of everything. This is not what we as humans need, or what our earth can handle.
So, at one point, in the middle of the French Alps – while enjoying this breath-taking scenery together with my newly born kids – I felt the urge to take action. I realized that I had to do something to make sure that the next generation can enjoy our beautiful planet and the healing energy of nature.
Rather than wait for others to do something about this increasingly unsustainable industry of tourism, I decided it was time for me to help, and that a change of industry would be the right step to take for me. Very soon after that I met the guys who had just started programming the BookDifferent website. They asked me to help them to bring BookDifferent to the market. Pretty out of the blue but an amazing opportunity, which at the time felt like a gift from heaven.