Out of nearly 250 applicants, HI USA was one of just 5 organizations from around the world to receive one of Booking.com’s first ever Booking Cares Fund grants. This award will fund a game-changing water conservation project to the tune of 200,000 Euros (about $238,000).

So what’s our plan?  We’re changing the shower experience.

We’ll install SmartShowers by Hydrao with built in LEDs that change color depending on the length of time the shower is in use.  Through fun and engaging hostel communications and activities, we’ll fuel our “Million Gallon Challenge,” which is designed to empower our hostel guests to better manage their own water consumption with the goal of saving over one million gallons at our hostels annually.  And since the goal of this experience-based initiative is to create a behavioral change, we’ll encourage guests to carry the practice home.

The Million Gallon Challenge will kick off with a first-year pilot at a handful of HI USA hostels followed by a wider rollout the next year.   Additionally, we’ll provide the industry with insights into our collective water footprint and the power of experience-driven sustainable behavior change.

Additional Booking.com Changemakers

The Booking Cares Fund “champions sustainable tourism changemakers in their search for new and unexpected solutions that reimagine the tourism and travel space.”

HI USA is one of five “changemakers” to receive grant support. Other organizations receiving grants include:

The Booking Care Fund supports each changemaker with a booking.com mentor to provide advice and support.  We are in terrific company!

Prioritizing Sustainability

This grant comes on the heels of our Pack Your Impact campaign, which has been widely celebrated for engaging travelers about sustainable travel alternatives. Earlier in 2018, HI USA was named a National Geographic Leader in Sustainable Tourism, one of four in the world.   But our campaigns are only successful because we walk the talk. In fact, 15 of our owned and operated hostels now meet Green Globe standards, and we are targeting 100% certification by 2020.

The importance of the grant cannot be overstated:  it allows us to launch at a scale that enables results to be transformative and makes the substantial staff investment by HI USA both possible and smart.   And we’ll be widely sharing the data and experiences with other hostels and hotels so it can be game-changing for them, too.


Giving kudos:   In the group photo, top row (left to right):  Ian Ackland (booking.com mentor for HI USA); Zach Hetrick (HI USA); Kim Whitaker (Khwela Tourism Stars);  Magdalena Radziewska (booking.com mentor for Khwela Tourism Stars); Abdullah Abu Ramen (Jordan Trail); Joost Vermeulen (booking.com mentor for Jordan Trail mentor);  Roderic Mast (Oceanic Society); Meredith Ragsdale (booking.com mentor for Oceanic Society).  Bottom row (left to right):  Xun Ji (ENAT) and Michelle Gao (booking.com mentor for ENAT)