Would you base your next vacation on how environmentally friendly, economically beneficial, socially conscious or economically beneficial to the surrounding community a resort is? Do you ever want to plan a trip based on activities or atmosphere, rather than destination?
The idea of doing any of the above, admittedly, conjures up images of granola-crunching hippies, rather than the Bermuda short- and baseball cap-clad throngs of American tourists famous for spreading their lucre worldwide. But Whole Travel, a new site launching today, is betting that the pool of thoughtful travelers is growing rapidly.
While most people are familiar with the idea of searching for, say, plane tickets and a hotel in Las Vegas, Whole Travel presents a search box with a question prominently displayed above it: “What’s your grand adventure?” Entering a word — “mountains“, for instance — brings up results that can then be narrowed by metrics like rating, cost, amenities or the “Whole Ranking.”
That last, a measurement of various environmental and social considerations for each vacation destination, is the keystone of the site. CEO Matthew Davie says that 42 percent of online travelers consider themselves “green.” That’s a nebulous category if there ever was one, but the statement is at least somewhat accurate, based on the rapid growth of ecotourism over the past few years.
Whole Travel thus hopes to be the nexus of environmentally-conscious travel, a place that people come to find that special spot in West Africa or Peru where they can, perhaps, atone for the tons of carbon their jet spewed out while carrying them to their vacation paradise.
Sarcasm aside, Whole Travel seems like a good idea, and the site already has some 4,000 hotel and resort listings who will, in the future, pay referral fees to the company (it doesn’t directly sell anything). It’s the site’s bad luck to be launching during what looks like it may be the start of a global downturn, a negative handicap to a tourism site if there ever was one.
So far, Whole Travel has been funded by angel investors. The company is based in Palo Alto, Calif.