How to book sustainable holidays

Nowadays, there are many online reservation systems which make easier the accommodation access and enable travelers to find quickly what they are looking for from their located smartphones. However, the dissatisfaction against the numerous reservation systems to find accommodation is increasing. Why? Which behavior to face this situation? Which platform to choose? Some parts of the answer…

Responsible travel? First of all, it’s a good choice of accomodation

The choice of the accommodation is the first reflex when we want to travel sustainably. Indeed, the beds and their roofs have such an impact on environment and people that the traveler has to choose a sustainable establishment. We mentioned previously the labels which are the first indicator, but they are limited (limit number of establishment, limited accessibility for the small sized organizations…)

So we have mainly recourse to reservation systems, or others online directories, which offer clean and sustainable destinations, selected by a fundamental and meticulous work, and sometimes independently of the labels, but by the platform’s organizer.

However, this mix of trend and citizen initiatives increase the number of the websites. And when they adopt the same operating way that the classical systems (such as for example), they fail to win unanimous support in the eyes of the hosts.

How does it work?

As big as the online systems are, the hosts ask for discount or big benefits for the consumer/travelers, and on the other hand, they draw off till 30% the price of the reservation to the professional (where the classical travel agencies ask for 8 or 10% commission). Moreover, the hosts have to book in advance a certain number of rooms for the booking system, even if the demand is high for that matter. In the end these systems became compulsory but also they weaken the durability of the organizations (and also the upkeep of the local job), and also the business assets, short-term business that we like! Sustainable? NO!

Let’s just say that today some hosts give up any idea of subscribing to online platforms. Of course they are losing traffic in their establishment but they are optimizing the profitability of the rented rooms. Nevertheless, a lot of establishments cannot go without the reservation systems because of a lack of usual traffic or a lack of time to develop other sources of “distribution”.

Fortunately, in the melting pot of the websites which offer destinations, some of them are offering a different kind of operating way: rather than a percentage per night sold, they ask for a fix (or variable) annual subscription. In the end, it’s cheaper for the host and enable him mainly to plan and master his costs, and enable the system to exist decently. Other platforms are directly putting online by the hotel groups. Direct booking gives three main advantages: first to be informed of the TRUE availability of the rooms, then to choose what we are looking for (the made-to-measure), and finally to have a real relationship with the host, let him know our preferences and thus get an adapted quality of service, which is still one of the main goal when we are going in vacation or for the week end.

Get back to a win-win relationship, less consumerist (everything right know), more balanced, more satisfactory, more sustainable in fact…


So, where do we clic?

After few months of immersion in the sector and a lot of exchanges, we made our opinion and made our choice (especially in the new upcoming initiatives)!


Centrale de réservation responsable

Uploaded on June 2nd 2014 but already well known in the sector and by the medias, this platform has the same mentality : no labels needed to be sustainable. From the moment where an organization has the same operating way, it can be refered, by annual subscription. Moreover, the platform pay a part of the incomes to associations chosen by travelers. For the moment only some dozens of available establishments, but no doubt that it will increase; and we do encourage it!

guide du tourisme responsable

Nice and new ! This practical guide of sustainable tourism offers a choice of service and accommodation sustainable in France. The referencing is totally free for the hosts; subscriptions are also available to have more visibility. Keep an eye on it because this website is supported by the cooperative society Eco-Sapiens which has already prove its sustainable e-consumption.

Destinations éco-touristiques

A selection of eco-tourist international establishments. Direct relationship with the hosts which are referred by annual subscription.

Premier portail d'information sur le tourisme responsable

This complete information portal about sustainable travel offer a book full of organization that the traveler can contact directly. Hat-trick to Romain Vallon and his team, who was the main source to make our referencing.

premier réseau de voyagistes et voyageurs éco-responsables

Created by passionates, the VVE association take part into the structuring of the sector and offer sustainable destination which will satisfy the hikers. But not only! The operating way is based on voluntary, so by simple subscription through the organization.

guide du tourisme responsable européen

New Belgium European initiative. Main referencing of labeled establishments, with the subscription formula (of the territories or directly of the hosts)

Centrale de réservation par les hôteliers pour les hôteliers

Uploaded and payed by the Club hotelier de Nantes, this website is still a developing national website. No specific focus on the sustainable hosts but a new way of thinking of the online reservation system: directly by the hotel.

Powered by Booking

Let’s name this voluntary initiative which enable travelers to finance the good case of his choice. 50% of the website incomes are dedicated to it. The prices are competitive and the offer is wide because they are using! so unfortunately the “sustainability” of this platform settles on the offer of the travelers. On the other hand, the hosts are not as lucky as the big sister… Sniff.

Translated from French by Clémence Duvent.

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