3 -min. read

There’s always a lot of chatter in the contemporary travel industry about ‘interacting with the neighbourhood’ (in fact, we have an entire REBELS category dedicated to exactly that), but sometimes it can feel just a LITTLE bit buzzword-y. When it comes to community, is it enough to open in an unknown neighbourhood, supposedly bringing opportunity in your wake; or to collaborate with local ‘creatives’ to make your lobby hangout that little bit hipper?

We’ve seen just about every permutation of the ‘neighbourhood’ angle and got jaded along the way; however, our interest was piqued by news of The Purpose Hotel, which purports to be built both by AND for the community as “the world’s first crowd-funded hotel for the socially conscious”.



Currently in Kickstarter (what else?) mode, the hotel is the dream of celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart, who, sick of snapping Swift and Spears, has turned his talents to driving social good. According to Cowart, his experience of globe-hopping through hotels left him uninspired: as a result, he wants to “reimagine the hotel as a creative, interactive experience that ignites the imagination, promotes play and fosters community”.



So far, so buzzword-y: but the proposed operations for the first Purpose Hotel in Nashville go beyond your average property in attempting to not only enhance the life of the traveller, but of those around the world (in fact, they argue that 1 night at the hotel has the power to impact the lives of 100 others). Ideas to elevate the guest experience include:

  • When you book a room, a child gets sponsored. The booking system also enables potential guests to explore the property in detail and see how others are connected to it.
  • Upon check-in, your receipt and online account show your individual impact and the collective influence of people who stay at the hotel.
  • Under the room number outside your door, you see a boy or girl who your room helps gives access to education, food, clothing and more.
  • Inside your room, products are purchased from partners who have been chosen because they are making a difference – you can learn about the history of each object. The internet fee will fight human trafficking (although we’re not sure that even the most socially responsible traveller will be keen to fork out extra for WiFi in this digital age…).
  • As you walk around the hotel, the walls and the art tell stories of people from cultures around the world who are part of the movement, like artisans and skilled workers.

Time will tell how many of these big ideas come to fruition, but we like the concept – and by using crowdfunding, The Purpose Hotel has the potential to be the first built communally online. Sponsors receive tiered rewards, from a kit of socially responsible amenities to being included on the ‘co-founders feature wall’ that will be installed in all future Purpose Hotels.




The project is currently at $435,646 of its $2,000,000 goal – so if you want to become part of the Purpose community, you have until 3 September to help them reach their target.

[Photos/Video: The Purpose Hotel]

Tim Snell

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