“Book your socialbnb now for more equality, education, nature protection, …” it says on our website. Those who book sustainable accommodation on our platform directly support an ecological or social project through their stay and receive authentic travel experiences in return. “Travel with impact” is what we lovingly call this kind of social travel. But what process is actually behind the listing of projects on our website, what criteria are checked to ensure quality, and how is this done? Lisa and Lydia from socialbnb’s partner management team answer five questions about the process of selecting new partner projects (the onboarding process) to give you more detailed insights into our social startup work and values.
1. How was the process for taking on new partner projects developed and what does it consist of?
Lydia: The process for taking on new partner projects is one that we as the socialbnb team have developed over the last 2.5 years and continually adapted to current research, best practices, and our internal team values.
Lisa: Exactly, over this period we have read up on the various topics we consider relevant and gathered experience from discussions with partner organizations. We also have regular exchanges with experts in the fields of child protection and protection of people with disabilities, as well as environmental and species protection. These discussions also help to ensure that our quality criteria are based on the consensus of the respective experts.
2. Why is it useful to have a process for selecting new partner projects at all? Wouldn’t it be better to support every project?
Lisa: It is a particular concern of ours to support as numerous and diverse projects as possible by listing them on our platform to sell overnight stays and thus generate an additional source of income for the project work. However, all partner projects should have in common the effective work with a social or ecological social added value.
Lydia: And since “impactful work” is, of course, very subjective, we have established a process that defines impact as the presence of certain project characteristics and the simultaneous absence of social or environmental harms. These may arise as a result of a lack of protection strategies for the relevant project target group or the environment, or if fraud is involved. Since the positive impact of the respective projects is particularly important to us, we invest a lot of time in selecting suitable projects.
Lisa: Absolutely, that’s why the recording process is also based on a video conversation, which allows socialbnb and the respective project partner to get to know each other and guides them through the process. Following the conversation, these steps are taken:
- Sending relevant documents (e.g. certificate of non-profit status),
- Creating the profile on the website,
- Sending marketing materials (e.g. photos).
3. To what extent do the quality criteria relate to the project filters, i.e. to the scope of the projects on the website?
Lydia: In the interview we go into different aspects, such as the mission of the project, the structure of the team or the backgrounds of the project’s founders; furthermore, depending on the specification of the project, we ask questions about the different protection aspects (e.g. for animal protection projects on specific animal protection issues). The filters on the website then serve as an orientation for the travelers regarding the thematic focus of the project work.
4. How is the criteria checked?
Lisa: In advance, we collect information about the project from the website and, if available, from the social media channels. During a personal video call between the project (usually the founder) and one of our regional managers (duration: about one hour), we get to know each other and answer questions, etc. Most of the information is actually obtained during the call. We get most of the information in the conversation, because there the project is told freely and authentically and also insights are given that are not visible on social media and the website.
5. What aspects are you particularly critical of when recruiting partner projects?
Lisa: Of course, all aspects are important and have been established and validated based on research, best practices and discussions with professionals. However, we pay particularly strong attention to the multifaceted social and environmental protection aspects that we use to be able to select effective projects. For example, in projects that target children, we pay particular attention to areas of child protection such as privacy, which are set out in our Child Protection Policy.
Lydia: Furthermore, the empowerment of the local population is an important concern for us, which is why we attach importance to the fact that the projects are local and employ mainly local people. The transparency of the projects in terms of funding, corporate culture and the environmental and social visions and values of the project is also very important to us. In this way, we try to ensure that the support in the form of a booking with socialbnb really benefits the project.
If you are interested in more insights into our work, this blog post might be interesting for you. Here, the socialbnb founding team reports on visiting projects in Kenya. Don’t miss any news about our work as a social startup and get tips for unique travel experiences in sustainable accommodations in our newsletter.