“We started in September 2019, a few months before the health crisis which particularly hit the hotel sector. Since the beginning of this year, the activity is finally off to a good start: we recorded a thousand solidarity nights between the beginning of January and the end of April , or as much as in two years”, explains, relieved, Yoann Magnin, co-founder of Solikend.
This startup created with Guillaume Magda and Lucille Ducalet, who has since left the adventure, is based in Izarbel, the business area around Estia (Bidart). She could already measure the enthusiasm for her idea with hotels, associations and companies, her three partners, but not yet really with the general public due to the health crisis. That idea ? Respond to two major issues: the lack of holidaymakers for tourist accommodation in low and mid season and the lack of funding for associations. Their response ? Convince hosts to offer stays, out of season, by accepting that the entire sum be donated to an association.
They are respectively 164 and forty to have said “yes” to Solikend. In terms of places, these are hotels, including palaces, but also campsites now, in New Aquitaine such as the VVF campsite in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port or the Araya hotel in Sare (Pyrenees -Atlantiques) and the Thermal hotel in Saubusse (Landes), but increasingly also elsewhere in France. “These are committed hosts, particularly in terms of ecology, which is reflected for example by the Green Key label or European Ecolabel, which will quickly be joined by others, because our formula arouses a lot of interest”notes Yoann Magnin, emphasizing to limit himself to France to encourage only local tourism.
And this engineer in sustainable development, having started his career at the Ministry of Ecology, to list the partner associations – international, national or local such as Médecins du Monde, Water Family or even the Diaconate of Bordeaux – of which he has known some as a volunteer. A third group of partners appeared this year: companies, some thirty to date including the insurer Allianz, who reward their employees through pots or Solikend gift cards, while involving them in their CSR approach.
A variable price
“I was not familiar with the hotel industry, but the trial at the beginning of 2018 with seven hotels was conclusive. Even today, we only operate through word of mouth”, points out the co-founder of the startup, labeled social utility company (Esus) by the State. In detail, the partner hotels undertake to offer a single room per date on which they are usually not full with a maximum of 20 to 60 dates per year depending on the size of the establishment. Reservations can be made seven months in advance up to the day before, but, unlike other platforms, they are not cancellable or refundable. Finally, the price of the stay is chosen by the client and varies, depending on his generosity, between 90% and 110% of the price suggested by the host, which is a low or mid-season rate.
“All parties are winners: customers who benefit from attractive rates, associations who obtain funds and hoteliers who save advertising costs and can also benefit from a tax deduction as for traditional patronage. Above all, they make a rewarding gesture, appreciated by their employees, often making themselves known to a new public”explains Yoann Magnin.
Participating hotels and campsites also benefit from a gateway from Solikend to their own site to encourage customers to book directly, thus avoiding hoteliers having to pay commissions to Booking and other platforms of this type. Solikend, for its part, is remunerated through a contribution from users and an annual subscription from associations, hotels and companies. “Solidarity does not mean non-profitable, we are, but with a logic of general interest and not with the desire to resell our startup”, underlines Yoann Magnin, looking forward to soon hiring his first two employees. Solikend is aiming for 250 partner accommodations by the end of the year and expects to quadruple or even quintuple the number of overnight stays by then compared to the first four months of the year.
We wish to say thanks to the author of this short article for this amazing material
Solikend seduces with its local solidarity tourism formula