Tookki, Travel with respect
While travelling the world has become an easier thing to achieve, making it responsibly requires however to access the right information and the right levels of transparency to trust them. This week, we have the pleasure to share the words of Fabien, one of the founders of Tookki, a new app allowing its users to pick experiences based on a series of sustainability-related indicators.
Thank you, Fabien, for answering the call of OUTSIDE THE BOX, and congratulations on the launch of your app!
Can you please tell us who exactly is behind Tookki?
We are 3 travellers, Julie, Fabien and Karim, behind the idea of Tookki, Travel with respect. We all share the same philosophy: we sincerely think that it is possible to travel differently, by respecting the environment, people and culture. We are all French and live in the beautiful city of Paris.
Julie, 33, client director in design marketing, is the feminine touch of the team. She is the one supporting the app’s design, marketing and communications aspects. She is fond of art, local cultures and loves meeting people during her trips.
Fabien, 36, former IT consultant, is the skipper of the team. He is stirring up ideas for Tookki, actively looking for contacts, visiting and testing places. He has become somehow the ambassador of the project. For many years, he has been very sensitive to environmental issues, so he always keeps himself aware of the latest innovations in the sector.
Karim, 39, IT consultant, is the geek of the team. He manages all the technical part of the project and already works on the next steps and the future development of the app. As a gourmet, Karim likes nice little local restaurants or grocery stores.
For the past 2 years, we have been working together, bringing our skills to build our common project, Tookki.
Fabien, tell us a little about Tookki: what is the purpose of the app, and how did you come to such a project?
A few years ago, Julie and I travelled to Nepal in 2013. While we were preparing our trip, we found it very hard to find a local guide, to avoid the unfair large trekking companies or to identify the ideal spots to discover and meet the local population. In a word, we wanted to create a genuine experience by meeting people, having a positive impact on the environment…
But what a nightmare to find trustworthy experiences! We had to visit a lot of websites, forums or printed guides. By doing so, we lost a lot of time and energy. Unfortunately, we wasted the exact same amount of energy for our trip to Panama in 2017.
At that moment, Tookki was born.
The idea behind this app is to simplify the access to this kind of responsible tourism, to open travellers to sustainability, to show them how easy it can be to have a positive impact on the planet and to share experiences with local communities when travelling.
Cities are our first playground. Since we started the project, we have been meticulously searching for such spots and activities, and meeting owners who share our values. We want to promise our consumers that they will live a truly positive experience when travelling and finding their way through our app.
What criteria or indicators do you use to identify sustainable/responsible hotels, shops and restaurants?
To simplify the choice for our users, we have chosen 6 simple criteria that capture how broad sustainable tourism can be: positive actions in the tourism industry can have different faces. We look for the following:
Local, meaning that the genuine ambiance of the country is respected through the use of national and regional products, through services offered from local initiatives (as local guides or transportation), the employment of local employees or the promotion of cultural heritage.
Fair, meaning that the places and offered services are based on fair payments, including for instance the promotion of fair-trade labels or the implementation of fair policy to employees and suppliers.
Ecological criteria gather all the actions in place to reduce the provider’s carbon footprint, for example limiting its energy consumption, using renewable energies, sorting waste, reducing food wastage, using natural products/materials.
Organic, meaning that some services and products from organic farming are offered, that nature and biodiversity are respected and that the use of pesticides is reduced if not banned entirely.
Solidarity is put forward when social charities are supported, when people with social, mental and physical difficulties are provided with training and occupational integration and when the access to disabled persons is made easier.
Finally, we want through the Social Life indicator that our users experience their travel as close as possible to local people, with their culture, customs, and daily life. It means finding places the closest to local neighbourhoods and vibes.
We emphasize how critical transparency needs to be, to build confidence with our community. Indeed, our criteria are clearly identified and visible for each place you can find on the app.
These criteria are our guidance, but we also need to test the places first to understand the experience they offer. We make it mandatory, for instance, to meet the owners of each of these places: it is critical for us that they share the same values. This way we ensure our users of the quality and genuineness of the different places we advise.
What feedback have you received so far from the places you have listed on the website and app, and from the users and travellers?
So far, the feedback we have been receiving are very positive from both sides, our professional partners and our first users. We are regularly posting on our social media and we already have some good feedback from our followers and app users.
People appreciate the selectivity of our offer and the real difference made by Tookki, i.e. the way we can help them find a real and genuine experience. Moreover, people start sharing places with us and other users: it is the beginning of the creation of a real community. Finally, our positive values and ways of seeing responsible tourism are shared and seem to meet the consumers’ expectations to improve our life.
Our professional partners have welcomed the app positively, as a positive trigger to open people to a new way of consumption, travel and life. They really appreciate the time we spent to test it, and how we have worked to best understand their own stories and visions.
What would you change / what could you do better, and what would you need to progress?
We are now going through the first steps of Tookki, after a long period during which we studied the offer and the market. We took the necessary time and gathered the skills around us to build a nice and complete proposal. Since the end of June the app is available for download and use.
Now, we will have to face many challenges. Our first task is to consolidate our story: we need to go beyond the project itself and share with our current and future users what the Tookki experience really is.
We will also keep on searching for locations, services, and refine the definition of the criteria we have been using to find the right gems in cities. Finding local ambassadors around Europe will be our objective for the coming year.
Sustainability is always evolving, and so should Tookki: we want to further share positive values.
Any success/failure stories in your project and advice that you’d wish to share to help other entrepreneurs to start their own project?
Don’t do everything alone, gather the right skills around you or ask for advice from professionals to strengthen your project.
Take your time to be sure of your ideas but also to assess your competitors.
Create a human story
Anything else you’d wish to say?
Download the app on the App Store or the Play Store and try to travel with respect with positive experiences ;-)
Find Tookki on their various social media accounts:
Blog : https://www.tookki.com/blog
Social media: @TookkiApp