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.
John de Vial
John joined ABTA in May 2009. John is responsible for financial protection, claims, risk and insurance operations. He is also a Director of Travelife, a Trustee of ABTA Lifeline and The Travel Foundation, and sits on the CAA’s Air Travel Insolvency Protection Advisory Committee (ATIPAC). John chairs the Advisory Committee of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the Institute of Travel & Tourism.
As Director of Product Strategy in Hotels & Resorts at TUI Group, Louise is responsible for the product strategy of TUI’s owned hotels and concepts, within its Hotel and Resorts division. This includes around 330 Group-owned hotels with 239,000 beds in about 30 countries. Louise also has responsibility for the development and delivery of the company’s international hotel concepts across the world.
Louise has over twenty years of experience developing product in the travel and tourism sector. During this time Louise has worked across developed and emerging markets, establishing a fantastic network of hoteliers and industry partners. Louise has also been instrumental in helping TUI work towards its target of delivering 10 million ‘greener and fairer’ holidays a year by 2020, which is part of the company’s Better Holidays, Better World sustainability strategy. The expertise Louise brings will be incredibly beneficial to the Travelife team.
Peter Grandall began his employment 1979 as a rep in Albufera, Portugal and Marbella, Spain. From 1989 until 1991 he was responsible for the two Thomas Cook concept hotel brands, Hotel33 and Club33. Between 1991 and 2001 he held the position of Product Manager at Sunwing Family Resorts, and during this time he founded the Sunprime Hotels concept that was designed for adults travelling without children.
He became Managing Director at Thomas Cook Northern Europe Hotels & Resorts in 2001, and in 2014 Peter moved to Director of Operations for Thomas Cook Resorts & Hotels. Peter was responsible for implementing the sustainability work carried out in Thomas Cook’s Sunwing and Sunprime brands that included working on the EU Flower for accommodation and Travelife.
Mark Tanzer has been Chief Executive of ABTA since 1 September 2005. Over that period, and following its amalgamation with the Federation of Tour Operators, ABTA has consolidated its position as the leading UK travel association with 1,200 corporate members comprising tour operators, cruise companies and travel agents. ABTA offers a broad range of services including financial bonding, health and safety support and business guidance. In addition it has very wide consumer recognition through its customer support and alternative dispute resolution activities.
Before joining ABTA, Mark held senior strategy and corporate finance positions in a number of industry sectors. Immediately prior to ABTA, Mark was Group Strategy Director of Centrica plc., the parent company of British Gas.
We currently employ around 9 full-time staff at our London office.
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
With a degree in Spanish & Latin American Studies, Lucas’ career in tourism began as an auditor for international airline quality standards. After a time in the sky, he found his feet moving into business travel management for the charity and not-for-profit sector, supporting the travel logistics and operations of aid workers in remote areas. His interest in responsible tourism led him to Travelife, and today he works closely with our auditors and audit management.
After finishing school in London with A-Level qualifications in; psychology, English literature and fine art, Sophia started working with Travelife in 2018 as their first ever apprentice. Sophia has travelled to various destinations around Europe on holidays and is excited to now be able to get involved in helping accommodation providers improve their sustainability.
After leaving school , Sara’s first job was a flight agent at a travel agency in West London, she then went on to pursue a secretarial career and spent three years living/travelling in Turkey. Whilst there she enjoyed integrating with the community, teaching English to locals and helping out at a local secondary school.
Since returning to England she got married, started a family, studied AAT Accountancy and has returned to her favourite industry. Sara enjoys her role as Financial Administrator for Travelife and is happy to be contributing towards sustainable tourism around the globe.
Audit report quality checks . Post-audit improvements . Certifications . Auditor quality control . Managing the Travelife Standard . Technical sustainability support
After a degree in Foreign Languages in France, Anaïs travelled around Australia and South East Asia for a year, working in various tourism jobs along the way. She went on to complete a Master’s Degree in International Tourism Management at Edinburgh Napier University and specialised in sustainable development through her dissertation research on tourism and poverty alleviation. Struggling with the cold Scottish weather, she moved to London and joined a small responsible travel company as Sustainability Leader. Her continued interest in sustainability led her to join the Travelife team in 2017 where she works closely with Teresa and Michelle in helping our members become certified.
Originally from Germany, Teresa started her career in tourism in Cologne where she worked as a hotel specialist for Radisson SAS and gained practical experience in all areas of a hotel business for 3 years. During her geography and political science studies in both Germany and Spain she discovered her strong interest for sustainable development and gained valuable insight into other sectors of the tourism industry by working for a travel agency in customer support as well as creating a corporate social responsibility concept for a tour operator. Subsequently she moved to Berlin to work for a certification body for environmental management systems as a project manager with customers across all industries. After 2 years she missed the closeness to the tourism industry and joined Travelife in July 2017 to combine her passion for tourism, the hotel industry and sustainability.
Michelle obtained her Bachelor’s degree in International Business from the University of Groningen in The Netherlands. During her studies she completed a university exchange in Surabaya, Indonesia. Michelle then moved to London in order to complete a Masters in Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability at Birkbeck, University of London. She developed a lasting passion for sustainable tourism during dissertation research in Thailand. As a result, Michelle decided to do an internship within the Sustainability and Social Responsibility department at the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) headquarters in Bangkok. In between her studies, Michelle embarked on working holidays in Australia and New Zealand, and travelled throughout South-East Asia. She has also been to several countries in Africa and Europe.
New Membership enquiries . ChainConnect . Tour operator Membership and support . Account management . Partnerships . Destination activity
Fascinated by travel from an early age, which likely stems from having family in the industry, Larisa went on to study International Tourism Management at university. Her passion for sustainability, one of the most prominent issues facing the tourism industry, paved her path to Travelife as a Business Development Manager. With this enthusiasm, her ambition is to see as much of the world as possible, whilst working to help maintain and develop destinations sustainability.
Born in Spain, Susana’s extensive experience in the industry commenced with a degree in Business Management in Tourism before working for a number of tour operators in Madrid. She then relocated to London where she has lived for the past 10 years, gaining valuable international tour operator and hotel industry experience in a range of operational roles. As part of the Travelife business development team, she is now responsible for growing our presence in Spanish and Portuguese–speaking countries. Susana believes that increasing awareness of sustainability issues in the sector will help to preserve tourism destinations long into the future.
Originally from New Zealand, Carolyn’s diverse career in tourism began almost 25-years ago working with inbound visitors to New Zealand before moving into education as a vocational travel & tourism lecturer. After moving to London, she spent 15-years with Virgin, first working with Virgin Limited Edition, a collection of properties privately owned by Sir Richard Branson, then at Virgin Galactic in sales before moving to New Mexico, USA for 5-years where she was primarily focused on hospitality experience design and tourism development. Sustainability has been a strong thread throughout her career so she was delighted to take on the role as Travelife Commercial Director when she returned to London in 2017.
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.