In an interview with Conviction the Co-Founder & COO of Staze, Henry Popiolek explains how to make travel greener today. Before the pandemic, 2.4 per cent of global CO2 emissions came from aviation with a significant proportion of that linked to travel & tourism. Globally, some 1 per cent of the population are ‘super emitters,’ frequent fliers who are single-handedly responsible for 50 per cent of all aviation emissions.
If we’re turning the corner with Omicron, and travel & tourism continue on an upward trajectory across the board, from the air, to roads, to waterways and, of course, to hotels at the other end of the journey, what’s to do about the subsequent rise in GHG emissions?
Staze has an answer for part of that puzzle, providing travellers better options to find and book sustainable accommodation that could ultimately accelerate the decarbonisation of the hotel industry.
Henry Popiolek, Co-Founder & COO of Staze
Who are the investors backing Staze?
Investing in travel during a pandemic takes conviction, so we’re especially lucky to be supported by a range of angel investors and industry experts, from Christian Mischler founder of HotelQuickly to Srin Madipalli and Daniel Dubois who helped scale Airbnb.
Tell us about Staze, how are you enabling greener travel?
Staze is a platform that helps you find and book the most sustainable hotel wherever you’re travelling. We’ve calculated an accurate carbon footprint for millions of hotels, and use it to help sustainability-minded travellers keep their footprint to a minimum.
The core belief that drives us at Staze is that travel is fundamentally a good thing, but that it shouldn’t harm the planet. We want to make greener travel the default, not the premium!
There’s an exciting opportunity to accelerate the decarbonisation trajectory of the entire hotel industry. By giving travellers clarity on CO2 emissions, we hope to prove to hotels, operators and franchises that sustainability really matters to their customers and to trigger a positive spiral that results in them increasing their sustainability efforts.
The core belief that drives us at Staze is that travel is fundamentally a good thing, but that it shouldn’t harm the planet.
Tell us your story, what inspired Staze?
I quit my management consulting job to co-found Staze with Jay in January 2020. We launched just 3 weeks before the first lockdown in the UK and have dealt with the flurry of lockdowns throughout the life of the business, which makes Staze something of a child of the pandemic growing up in the shadow of changing restrictions.
What motivated me to take the leap was the challenge and absolute accountability for the success of the startup. I find that really energising, and life’s too short not to do the things that give you energy!
In hindsight, even for a travel startup the lockdowns were actually a blessing in disguise - they gave us the time to reflect on and solidify the positive impact we want to make as a business, for Staze that means helping to address the climate crisis.
How do double carbon offsets work?
From face to face connections to the feeling of freedom, travel gives us so many benefits. And yet each trip directly contributes to the climate crisis. That’s something we want to change, and it’s why every booking on Staze is double offset.
That means that if your hotel booking emits 80kg CO2e, then we’ll invest in a mixed portfolio of preventative and removal carbon offsetting projects which will offset 160kg CO2e. There are four accredited projects we support and when you make a booking we’ll show you exactly how your CO2 emissions were offset.
The impact of offsetting can be questionable, which is why every project we invest in is officially certified by the likes of VERRA. It’s also why we double the emissions to make sure that your booking is genuinely carbon negative.
If your hotel booking emits 80kg CO2e, then we’ll invest in a mixed portfolio of preventative and removal carbon offsetting projects which will offset 160kg CO2e.
What’s been the biggest challenge establishing and scaling Staze?
One key area is that I think there’s a real lack of trust in sustainability. Every business says it’s sustainable, and so people have naturally built some scepticism to claims of sustainability. The whole value proposition and credibility of Staze relies on being able to cut through this scepticism to give people clarity on sustainability when they travel. That’s why we rely on a transparent, data-driven approach.
There’s a real lack of trust in sustainability. Every business says it’s sustainable, and so people have naturally built some scepticism to claims of sustainability.
What are you most excited about getting to work every day?
I work with a fun, talented team innovating to tackle an important problem. What more can you ask for?