Travelife was developed in 2007 in response to a growing global understanding that businesses needed to take a more proactive role in operating responsibly to address climate change and conservation. Travelife was intended to be a means by which the UK and European travel industry could show that measures were being taken to address these issues, along with growing concerns on social issues and labour rights. In 2009 Travelife became a wholly owned subsidiary of ABTA, the UK travel association.
Work on the current Travelife Standard began in 2004. A group of industry stakeholders and environmental experts reviewed the standard that accommodation providers would need to follow in order to display the Travelife mark, and thus make it easy for both tour operators and their customers to identify which properties were operating responsibly.
This detailed process involved extensive consultation with European NGOs, trade associations, and a variety of subject experts. During this time, it was established that tourism had a significant impact on in-destination social issues, so eventually standards relating to human rights, labour, and community engagement were added. The Standard is occasionally updated to address new issues and to reflect any changes made to the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Standard, a set of globally recognised criteria. Travelife remains one of the few standards that comprehensively addresses business management, environmental impacts, and social issues, and is the only standard that was specifically designed by the tourism industry for the tourism industry.
Travelife certifies hotels against a GSTC-recognised Standard containing 163 criteria. Properties join Travelife through payment of a fee that includes a two year membership and an audit. Upon joining, they gain access to a web-based system that contains tools for them to carry out a self-assessment against the Travelife Standard and a suite of resources to help them implement necessary changes.
Three to six months after joining, Members work with Travelife to schedule an audit. Travelife has a network of approximately 60 independent contract auditors who have been trained by an external auditing consultant. Travelife allocate an auditor to a Member and an on-site audit, normally taking around six hours depending on the size of the property, is carried out at a mutually agreed date against the Travelife Standard.
The auditor submits a report to Travelife and a specially trained certifications team quality checks each criterion in the Standard then communicates with the hotel directly on any further improvements that are required. It is common for properties to have some improvements to make and they are given six months to make these. If their audit identifies 40 or more improvements, they are failed and will need to pay for a new audit should they wish to continue with certification.
Once the Certifications Team is satisfied all the criteria are met, the property is certified and given a Travelife Gold Certification in the form of a logo and certificate they can display. The certification is valid for two years at which point the property must renew membership and undergo another audit. Properties must continue to do this every two years in order to maintain their certification.
Travelife also has a travel trade membership product for tour operators and online travel agents (OTAs). A weekly membership status report is sent to these Members so they can update their systems to show which properties in their supply chain have sustainability certification. Tier Two Members are also invited to participate in Working Group meetings and to work with Travelife on bespoke strategies to increase the number of Certified properties in their accommodation supply chain.
Travelife has developed a commercial agreement with Rainforest Alliance (owned by NEPcon) offering their certified properties the option to become Travelife certified Members via payment of a reduced membership fee.
The Board of Directors meets to oversee the business, help set direction and to provide support to the Travelife leadership team.
We currently employ around 9 full-time staff at our London office. We also contract a senior auditing consultant along with two destination representatives.
General member support . Audit dates . Audit preparation . Travelife Gold certificates and branding . Social media and marketing . Billing and payments . Auditor recruitment and training . Auditor management
Audit report quality checks . Post-audit improvements . Certifications . Auditor quality control . Managing the Travelife Standard . Technical sustainability support
New Membership enquiries . ChainConnect . Tour operator Membership and support . Account management . Partnerships . Destination activity
EDUCATIONS, SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE
All of our auditors must:
Be fluent in English with excellent verbal and written communication skills
Have at least an undergraduate degree in environmental sustainability, management and/or tourism disciplines OR at least five years’ experience in an environmental or sustainability field
Have an environmental auditing qualification OR at least five years’ experience in developing and/or managing a sustainability certification program
Have at least five years’ experience in sustainability
Have experience with ISO14001 or EMAS
We also prefer our auditors to:
Be fluent in at least one other language
Have tourism industry experience or education, especially in the hospitality sector
Should an application be successful, trainee auditors must attend one of our 5-day Auditor Training courses that are run periodically by a Senior Auditor at various global locations. The course combines a mix of classroom theory and practical auditing techniques that are carried out at an operational hotel. On the last day of the course trainees must complete an exam. If they pass the exam they must first observe a live Travelife audit before having their first audit supervised by a more experienced auditor. If the experienced auditor is confident they are ready to conduct solo audits, they are officially designated as an Approved Travelife Auditor. Click here if you are interesting in applying to be a Travelife Auditor.
AUDITOR QUALITY CONTROL
Approved Travelife Auditors must sign and agree to abide by our Anti-Corruption and Bribery Policy as well as our Auditor Code of Conduct. They have a dedicated website where we post the latest news and updates, and are expected to attend regular online meetings and training sessions.
We currently have two Senior Auditors who are contracted by us to provide additional independent consulting and training services.