ChainConnect resources for head office staff
ChainConnect certification plan
We recommend you follow our 6 Step Certification Plan so that you are as prepared as possible for the ChainConnect HQ Visit and the individual audits at your properties. This will give all of your hotels the best chance of achieving Travelife Gold Certification.
I: Find the ChainConnect Preparation Checklist
This has been designed especially for head offices. It will help you to prepare for the ChainConnect head office meeting and the individual audits at each of your properties. During the meeting at your head office, we will look at central documents, reports and records as well as examples of site-specific documents from your properties, so the HQ Checklist will help you to make sure you have the right documents prepared. View and download the ChainConnect Preparation Checklist English | Español.
II: Download the Travelife Checklist for individual properties
Each of your properties will be audited against the Travelife Standard and we have provided this as a checklist to help our Members prepare for each audit. We recommend that you download a copy that you will use to design an improvement plan for each of your properties. All ChainConnect Members are audited against the 'Travelife Checklist for Medium, Large and Mega Properties'. Click here to view and download the checklist (available in multiple languages).
III: Appoint Travelife leaders
Your entire certification process will run a lot smoother if one person at head office takes responsibility for the entire chain/group and is the main point of contact with Travelife.
It is also a Travelife requirement that each individual hotel in your group appoints a person who works on-site to take on this role, and that they have enough time to complete their work. In many hotels the General Manager or their assistant is the Travelife leader, but it can be any person who has a broad understanding of the hotel’s operations, has good relationships with department heads and is trusted by senior management to take on the responsibility.
Both the head office and individual property Travelife leaders should work together to assess the property against the Travelife Checklist.
IV: Involve other staff
We recommend that you form a team of relevant staff, both at the head office and at each property, to help you through the process.
During the head office meeting, the Travelife team review all of the documentation you have prepared relating to legislation, business permits, labour, human rights, environmental management, supplier, community and guest engagement. It is therefore a good idea if you consult with other department heads and the general managers at each property before this meeting, so that you have everything ready and understand the processes, records and documentation currently in place.
At individual properties, we find that it is mostly the general manager (or their assistant), human resources and maintenance managers involved when assessing the hotel's compliance against the Travelife Checklist, although you may need to consult with other department heads.
At each property you will be reviewing your current systems and processes for energy, water, waste, chemicals and procurement. We find that this work primarily involves maintenance, food & beverage and housekeeping. These teams should be briefed on what is happening and should identify what areas of the Travelife Checklist they will need to help with in order achieve the best possible outcome from the audit.
V: Collect information and arrange access
During the head office meeting, you will need to be able to access a variety of documents from permits and licenses through to maintenance records. This will also be necessary at individual properties when the auditor will be verifying that all of your central policies and procedures have been implemented correctly at each location.
If the Travelife leaders are not members of the senior management team, then you will need to ensure they have permission to access all of this information including sensitive information such as payroll records.
VI: Identifying what you do well and what you need to improve
It is up to you how you do this, but here is a process we think most of our Members will find useful. We have suggested a manual process, but you might be able to save paper (and time) by using a portable device such as a tablet: -
For the ChainConnect head office meeting:
- Use the the ChainConnect Preparation Checklist English | Español
- Go through each question. If you think you have evidence to show that you do comply, then you should make a note of what that evidence is and where to find it. Where you do not comply, make a note of what you need to change or improve.
- Transfer these notes to a document that you will use to create a plan that ensures you make all the required improvements before your ChainConnect head office meeting.
For the audits at each property:
- Print the Travelife Checklist.
- Go through each question. If you think you have evidence to show that the property complies, then you should make a note of what that evidence is and where to find it. Where they do not comply, make a note of what needs to be done at the property to change or improve.
- Transfer these notes to a document that you will use to create a plan for the property that ensures all of the required improvements are completed before their audit
After the head office meeting, Travelife will send you a report that will describe any improvements you need to make before the individual property audits take place. You should use this to create a plan so that your hotels are properly prepared.
I: Make an improvement plan
This should include a list of the Travelife criteria that you do not yet comply with and what actions you will take. There many tools in the Member Zone to help you with this process so make sure you have checked the criterion you need to work on in the Sustainability Toolkit where you will find guidance, templates and examples. How you write your action plan is up to you and we have provided an example below of one way you could do it.
II: Implement your plan and monitor your progress
Here are some things we recommend to help you implement and monitor your improvement plan:-
Schedule time to work on your plan: The Travelife leaders should set aside regular time to work on improvements. Much of this work will rely on other people or departments, so plan meetings with the right staff ahead of time so they can set aside time to work on this too.
Keep senior management informed: If you are not part of the senior management team then make sure you keep relevant senior managers informed. They might need to authorise purchases, sign policies or ask other staff to carry out tasks, so it is important that they are supporting this work.
Regular meetings: Add Travelife to the agenda of department meetings so you can discuss the progress each department is making and plan upcoming work.
Seek general staff support: See if you can add the topic to a general staff briefing (or to department briefings) so that all staff understand what is happening and how to support your company's sustainability work.
You will work with your dedicated Travelife account manager to schedule a date for the head office meeting and with your assigned auditor to schedule the individual property audits. For the head office meeting, it is helpful if you have a range of date options available as Travelife will need to coordinate availability with the team and the assigned auditor. Please also ask your General Managers to offer several date options for their individual audits as it is likely that the auditor will be travelling from another location, so will need to coordinate travel and manage their workload in order to accommodate your properties.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can we choose our ChainConnect Head office meeting and audit dates?
We will do our best to accommodate special requests for dates but are not able to make any guarantees as it will depend on the availability of the Travelife team and auditors. We begin the audit allocation process three months in advance, so the more notice you can give us the better. Once an auditor has been allocated to you, it will be up to you (or a representative at each property) and the auditor to arrange a date and time that suits all parties.
What if we cancel or change our audit date?
If you cancel or change a confirmed audit date within 30-days of the auditor's scheduled arrival, or refuse to let them carry out a scheduled audit when they arrive, you may be charged up to €1,500 per audit to cover any travel cancellation fees and lost wages that the auditor incurs. Click here to view our Membership Terms & Conditions that explain Travelife and Member obligations for audits.
Can we request a specific Travelife auditor?
It is important that our Approved Auditors remain independent, objective and impartial so they must abide to a strict Code of Conduct and sign our Anti-Corruption and Bribery Policy. In order to maintain this independence we do not allow our Members to choose their auditors or vice-versa. We ask our auditors to declare any connection they have with our Members and we typically will not allocate an auditor to a property that they have any relationship with, past or present.
Download the audit day checklist to help you ensure you have all of the final arrangements in place before your audit English | Español
It is important to remember that Travelife use independent auditors who are free to decide the best way to audit each property. That means that Travelife cannot tell you what they will ask to see, who they will ask to talk to or where they might want to go. We know that many Members fail on some of our requirements because of simple things like not being able to find documents or not being able to find keys to things like storage rooms that an auditor asks to inspect. It is worth spending some time being prepared so here are our tips to help you: -
Answer emails promptly and accurately: Your auditor will be in touch with you to reconfirm dates, times, directions and so on. They may also have other more general questions about each property that will help prepare for a more smooth-running audit day. Please respond to their e-mails promptly and accurately.
Know where to find documents: Go through the Travelife Checklist and make sure the Travelife leader at each property knows where to find all of the documentation they might need to show. The auditor is required to keep any information they learn about your staff and your operations confidential (except for disclosing information to Travelife for the purpose of writing your audit report). Travelife are also required to keep information confidential and to store this safely as part of our Membership Agreement with you. Therefore, the auditor will not accept confidentiality as a reason for not showing them the documents they ask for.
Make sure the person escorting the auditor can access any area of your property: You may not refuse access and the auditor will not accept things like not being able to find keys or an appropriate staff member as a valid reason for denying access to them. We recommend you spend time thinking about this before the audit. For example, will they be able to access the roof to inspect solar panels or air-conditioning units? Can they get into service ducts, boiler rooms, pool filter rooms and storage rooms? Can they access a variety of guest rooms?
Staff interviews: Your auditor may ask to interview staff during each audit without anybody else from your company present. They are allowed to choose these staff at random and you are expected to make them available as soon as possible, and provide a private area for the interview to take place. The property will immediately lose any Certification they hold and Travelife Membership if we find out that any kind of threats or retaliation were made against staff in an effort to get them to provide false answers in these interviews
Have staff with the right knowledge available: Your auditor may have specific technical and procedural questions about operations that they will want to ask directly to people working in the relevant departments. This could include housekeepers, kitchen staff, engineers, waiting staff, groundskeepers and so on. We recommend that you make sure that staff representing all departments, who know exactly what procedures they follow, are available on the day. Auditors will not accept staff absence as a reason for not providing evidence for a certain requirement.
YOUR AUDIT REPORTS
The audit reports will be available in the Evergreen once each one has gone through a thorough quality check by the Travelife team. During peak periods this can take up to 30-days but we do our best to make them available sooner.
Click here to login to Evergreen.
THE OUTCOME OF THE AUDITS
Each audit report will show one of three things: -
The property is certified: This means we found evidence that they complied with all of the requirements of the Travelife Standard. We will e-mail you to explain what happens next.
The property needs to make some improvements: This means that the property did not comply with between 1 and 40 of the requirements in the Travelife Standard. Someone from our Certifications, Compliance and Quality Control team will tell you what needs to be done in order to meet these requirements, including what sort of evidence you need to send us. You will need to let us know that you have started making improvements at the property within 1-month of receiving the audit report, otherwise we will assume you do not intend to continue we will fail the audit. You will need to complete all of the properties improvements within 6-months of receiving the audit report, otherwise you will need to pay for another audit.
The property did not meet more than 40 of the Travelife Requirements: If the property has 40 or more improvements to make then you will need to pay for them to have another audit. Our team will be in touch with you to explain why this happened and how to arrange a repeat audit.
COMPLAINTS AND APPEALS ABOUT THE AUDIT AND CERTIFICATION PROCESS
You have the right to make an appeal if you disagree with a decision that has been made about whether or not a property has complied with the Travelife Standard. You also have the right to complain if you feel you’re your business experienced inappropriate or unprofessional behaviour from a Travelife Auditor or staff member at any time. Click here to view our policy and procedures for complaints and appeals.
Once a property achieves Travelife Gold you will receive an email from our Member Support Team. We will tell you about the benefits and resources you are able to use to promote your sustainability certification. These include: -
Travelife Gold Certificate: This will be attached to the e-mail so you can print it in colour immediately. Please remember that it is a Travelife requirement that this certificate is displayed in a public area of each certified property.
Travelife Gold Logo: This will be attached to the e-mail along with the Travelife Brand Guidelines that explain how it can be used.
Travelife Collection: You will be sent instructions about how to upload and manage the property’s listing on the Travelife Collection. This is a website where travellers and travel agents can search for Travelife Certified properties. You can use each listing to communicate your sustainability achievements to existing and potential guests.
Travelife Gold Plaque: Due to the environmental cost of producing, shipping and disposing of Travelife Gold Plaques, we are discouraging their use. Members who receive Gold Certification from 1st April 2019 may order them from us as part of the Gold Pack (see below).
The Gold Pack: This is available on request and free of charge for ChainConnect Members. It includes a specially printed and gold embossed certificate, a window/door decal sticker and a plaque. You will be sent information about how to order a Gold Pack in the Certification email or you can click on the link below to order a pack for a property that has been Certified.
Preparing for the head office meeting
The head office meeting is an important part of what makes ChainConnect so successful. During the meeting we will review the central documents, policies and procedures you have in place that will help your individual properties gain Travelife Certification. We will give you advice about how to roll these out across all your locations and after the meeting, we will send you a report that explains what further improvements you need to make before the individual audits take place.
It will take place online with your head office team on a date that you agree with your Travelife account manager. We recommend that this meeting takes place at least 2-months before any individual audits at your properties so you have time to make any improvements and to work with hotels on the things they need to have in place at each location.
We suggest that the meeting is attended by the central staff at your group that are responsible for implementing your sustainability initiatives. Sometimes this is just the person you have appointed as your Travelife leader, but you may also wish to involve staff from human resources, operations and purchasing. You can discuss this with your Travelife account manager if you need some advice.
From Travelife, your account manager along with the Travelife certifications specialist and auditor that has been assigned to your group will be present at the meeting. Sometimes additional people may attend. For example, if you are a large chain operating in multiple countries, we may assign more than one auditor or certifications specialist to you and all these people will attend the meeting.
Usually it can take up to half a working day with the meeting starting around 09h00.
We will cover all our travel costs. If our visit requires an overnight stay and you have a hotel in the area where you can offer us a reduced rate, that would be greatly appreciated.
No. The meeting is simply a way for us to help you prepare for the individual audits at each of your properties. The audits will take place at each individual property and you can click here to learn more about them.
Your account manager will provide you with more information about this, but you will need to work through our Travelife ChainConnect Preparation Checklist. Click these links to download it English | Español. The checklist contains instructions and examples about how to use it. It also contains links to the related guidance, templates and examples we provide for each section.
The Certifications team will send you a list of documents that you need to prepare and send back to them no later than 7 days before the head office meeting. Click this link to download it English.
We will go through the checklist with you and look at the evidence you have that shows you comply with each question. We will explain any further improvements you need to make and give you advice about how to implement each area at your individual hotels.
We will prepare a report for you that explains any improvements that you need to make. We normally send you the report 14 to 28-days after the meeting. You will then need to implement our recommended changes and ensure they are in place at each of your properties before they are audited.
Whenever possible, the audits are carried out by the same auditor that attended the head office meeting. The auditor or auditors assigned to your chain will work with you to schedule an audit at each of your locations. Click here to learn more about scheduling audits.