For the fourth in our series of interviews with social entrepreneurs working in tourism, we talk with Simon Smedberg, Co-Founder and CEO of Glooby. Founded in 2014 and still in Beta, Glooby is developing a search engine to make discovering truly sustainable holidays easier.
TRAVINDY: What are the challenges your company is trying to address?
GLOOBY: We’re people who love to travel and discover beautiful places, cultures and people around the world. As travel enthusiasts, we used to check the Internet for flights and hotels when going abroad. Early on we reacted to that there were numerous travel sites, but most were unclear, full with annoying ads and most importantly, a total lack of sustainability.
The travel and tourism industry is a huge industry that generated USD 7.6 trillion in 2014, which represents almost 10 % of global GDP. Besides that, the year 2012 was the first time the number of international travellers passed one billion. In 2014 the number was 1,138 billion and in 2030 it’s expected to be 1,8 billion, which is almost double.
“Most travel sites are unclear, full with annoying ads and most importantly, a total lack of sustainability”
Today, there are more ways than ever to travel and discover the world. With that comes an even greater responsibility. These are the environmental challenges our company is trying to address.
TRAVINDY: What is the impact you are trying to achieve?
GLOOBY: In an increasingly globalised world with a fast growing tourism industry, it is more important than ever that we make a transition from inefficient trips to more efficient and sustainable. We think it is a great initiative to create a travel site that takes into account how different travel options affect the environment, so we have the opportunity to choose the most sustainable trips and reduce our environmental impact as much as possible.
There are so many beautiful places in the world and we believe it’s important that we take care of the environment and reduce our emissions in order to leave the travel destinations in the same condition it was in, as when we arrived. We can preserve our beautiful countries and destinations in the same condition as they were yesterday.
We also believe it has become increasingly important for our generation and today’s companies to consider sustainability. We like to think we can change the world, make the world a little better by changing purchasing behaviour in the tourism industry.
TRAVINDY: What’s special about your approach to meeting these challenges?
GLOOBY: Glooby is the first travel search engine helping you to find and compare flights and hotels from a sustainability perspective. Glooby searches for the best deals from a large number of bookings sites and show you which flights are the most fuel efficient and which hotels are eco-labeled.
Glooby calculates the CO2-emission for each flight and shows which flights are the most fuel efficient first in the search results. Information about eco-labels and eco-labeled hotels are gathered from the largest and most reliable organisations in sustainable tourism. With this information you can clearly see which hotels are eco-labeled and are working to reduce their waste, water and energy usage, protect the local environment, cultural heritage and to protect human rights and children from exploitation.
“Our goal is and has always been to make greener and more sustainable offers more accessible”
Our goal is and has always been to make greener and more sustainable offers more accessible. In order to help travellers and companies to choose green without having to sacrifice their wallet, we early decided to include as many travel suppliers as we can. By doing this we are making a green travel search engine, comparable in the supply and performance of the biggest websites in the market.
TRAVINDY: What’s the most exciting thing you, your company, or your organisation has achieved so far?
The most exciting thing our company has achieved to far is the development of Glooby. We have developed a great travel search engine with an entirely new concept. And soon we will release our first release, that is very exciting!
Other things we have achieved so far is a lot of interesting partnerships. We are a member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and other organisations working with sustainable tourism. We enter new partnerships with travel suppliers daily who would like the be seen on our website as well. We are very glad and excited that many recognise our work and believe in our idea.
We have attracted people and other parties to Glooby, people who believe in what we are doing in the travel and tourism industry.
We have been accepted as the first Nordic company to the Rackspace startup programme. Since our biggest impact on the environment is our energy usage for hosting our website and servers, we are proud to say that we are powered by Rackspace whose data centres are powered on 100% certified renewable energy.
TRAVINDY: What do you need to help you be more successful?
GLOOBY:The idea of what would eventually become Glooby was born about three years ago. About 2 years ago we started to investigate the technical part and since about a year ago we have developed intensively. It has been very much to do and we have put thousands of hours on development, but also on the brand, economy and much more.
Me and Emil, who started Glooby, are just 23 and 24 years old. We have developed Glooby in the late evenings and weekends alongside our regular jobs. What we need most to be successful is partly time. And that requires funding. So we can afford to operate, develop and launch a global web site that can change the travel and tourism industry. We need the ability to spend more time on Glooby to make it as successful and famous as possible among all the world’s travellers.
TRAVINDY: What does that success look like? Share your dream with us.
GLOOBY: Our dreams are the we change how travellers choose and book travel. Our dreams are also that by changing purchasing behaviour we can accelerate the development of more fuel efficient airplanes and perhaps alternative fuels in the long run.
Our dreams are of course that we become successful and make a difference. That we make Glooby recognised and used by responsible travellers worldwide. We want to make it easier for travellers and companies to find the most sustainable ways to travel.
TRAVINDY: If you could connect with one person, company or organisation in responsible tourism, who would it be, and why?
GLOOBY: We are very glad that we already have connected with so many organisations working towards responsible tourism. Beside our partners, we would very much like to work with National Geographic in the future. They have a clear policy about sustainability, we really like their work and from what we can see they are starting to work towards responsible tourism as well. The reason for this is because they are starting to work more with responsible tourism and they are a huge company who reach out to millions of responsible travellers worldwide. We think many of their readers and customers would like to use Glooby to find the most sustainable way to travel.
TRAVINDY: Which other person, company or organisation would you most like to recommend to be interviewed for this series, and why?
Irene Lane, founder and president of Greenloons. She is working to provide information about sustainable and ecotourism travel vacations. She is also working with the GSTC and we really think she would be great for this series. She knows a lot about sustainable tourism and she has helped us a lot.