This weeks expert is the founder of Wander.io Clementina Oliveras. Wander is a revolutionary hotel booking site that offers prices competitive to the big guys like Expedia. But unlike Expedia, every time you book with Wander, you help children in need. Wander has partnered Vitamin Angels to provide 5 children under 5 a full years supply of vitamins with every booking. So you can rest even easier on your vacation that you have done something good while treating yourself.
Clementina was doing her Undergrad in Economics when a desire to travel sparked her to do a semester abroad in Australia. She was inspired by the countries attention to sustainability. Especially around tourism. When she returned she started working in her hometown Mexico City towards economics in sustainable projects related to tourism. She worked with the Ministry of Environment to help promote eco-tourism in Mexico’s beautiful wild places.
We talked about the difficulties of changing people’s mindsets to include sustainability. Especially when those people live in developing countries and are concerned about where their next meal is going to come from. The key, she told me, is to make sure you highlight the economic benefits of conservation and connecting actions and consequences.
Clementina decided to get her Masters in Sustainable Tourism in New York at NYU. For her final project, she created a real business model designing a sustainable hotel in Playa Xcalacoco, Mexico. She built the hotel using locally sourced materials and labor whenever possible. After managing it for a few years and learning the rhythms of the hotel business she was ready for something more. Something that gave back.
She moved to Vancouver, Canada with her husband and started thinking about how she could combine her love of children with her experience in the sustainable tourism industry. And that is how the idea for Wander was born. They now have hotel partners in over 47,000 destinations.
Facing down hotel booking giants is no easy feat- they have the money and rankings to loom over the top spot in Google. But they lack heart- which is where Clementina and Wander shine. By providing a solid service, with competitive prices savvy travelers expect in places they want to go AND giving back Wander is irresistible. If you can get the same end result for the same or better price while helping humanity it’s a no-brainer.
Wander is growing by word of mouth which is the best marketing money can’t buy. They also have a blog with travel tips and dream destinations. In the future, Clementina hopes to partner with other non-profits focusing on environmental issues. Which will give people a choice of where their donations go.
I for one, can’t wait to book my next trip!
*Photos courtesy of Wander