A very interesting conversation with Pier Tognazzini, a member of Skal Cote d’Azur, about the key role of tech startups in the growth of sustainable tourism.
SE: Good morning, Pier, can you please tell us something about yourself and why you decided to develop MooVert, the first online platform for sustainable tourism in France?
PT: I was born in Italy, and I grew up experiencing the Slow Food and Slow Tourism movement. Slow Food was founded in 1986 and has been promoting a more sustainable and ethical approach to food, celebrating local culinary traditions, preserving biodiversity, and supporting small-scale farmers and artisans. I originally came to France for a one-year stint at the Sorbonne University in Paris. I am still here, after twenty years spent promoting tourism in France.
In the last years, I have seen tourism demand shifting towards more responsible forms of travel. In France there is a huge potential, offering diverse cuisine, amazing authentic experiences, and unique cultural treasures. However, it’s very difficult for responsible travellers to find the providers of such experiences, as most of them are very small enterprises, scattered over a huge number of French destinations, mainly rural, with a low level of digitalization. From here the decision to start our platform.
SE: What makes MooVert different from other online platforms that offer rural accommodation such as, for example, AirBnB?
PT: Choosing MooVert means choosing the cultural, historical, gastronomic, or even agricultural and natural heritage of France.
The new expectations of the French are multiple:
- being able to spend a stay in nature, in places preserved from mass tourism, in authentic accommodation that is attentive to the environment.
- being able to live “experiential tourism” in contact with the locals and bring home a real souvenir of your vacation.
- being able to practice your favourite sport in complete freedom, seek personal well-being in an eco-spa or even meditate and do yoga in nature.
MooVert has spent more than two years crisscrossing France to offer 220 new tourist experiences in France and now we can also offer themed stays!
Furthermore, MooVert is also a tool for the providers, as we help them rate and grow the sustainability of their product through an algorithm, developed together with La Clef Verte, which is the main label in France for responsible tourism, and Bienvenue à la Ferme, an organization linked to the chamber of agriculture which brings together all the accommodation facilities in authentic places.
The algorithm assigns 3, 4 or 5 pinecones to each accommodation facility or service provider, based on the requirements of the SDGs of the Agenda 2030. This rating gives an indication of the level of eco-responsibility, authenticity, contribution to the development of the area and heritage, comfort and services offered. Thus, the user can choose locations that are attentive to consumption and suited to their needs.
The service provider, on the other hand, gets from the algorithm precise indications of the areas of improvement to obtain higher ratings and become even more attractive to responsible tourists. We provide them with advice on using, enhancing and capitalising on the work already done, and support them in the ecological and digital transformation of their business.
SE: Why don’t we see the well-established online travel platforms evolve in this direction, leaving on the table huge opportunities for new startups like yours?
PT: Tech startups have the advantage of founding their business model and technical development on different foundations, bringing them quickly to the desired result. Older companies must overcome not only huge technical challenges but must also go through a cultural change that is difficult to obtain when you are a multinational corporation with thousands of employees all over the world.
In France, there are institutions, such as the “Slow Tourisme Lab” of the “France Tourisme Lab” of the DGE (Direction Générale des Entreprises) at the Ministry of Economy, Finance and Recovery that support startups going towards the ecological transition. In the same way, we find more investors interested in these new developments. Therefore, MooVert and other startups are a major propulsive force in reaching the sustainability goals fostered by the United Nations and the European Union for the next future.
Image of Pier Tognazzini – Credits: Studio Lois Bisoli