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Based at our London office, Michelle leads the Travelife certifications team that provides assistance and support to accommodation providers during the pre- and post-audit phases of the certification process.
Describe your role at Travelife.
On an average day, the Certifications team quality checks the audit reports submitted by our independent auditors after their on-site audits. This involves making sure that the report has been completed correctly and that each criterion has been correctly assessed with detailed comments about what evidence the auditor did or did not find to support a compliance decision.
We also provide technical sustainability support and advice to accommodation providers who are working through any post-audit improvements they need to make. Finally, we provide wider technical support in the areas of auditor quality control, such as developing the annual online refresher training modules they must complete and for the development of tools and resources that help both auditors and accommodation providers.
How did you end up working at Travelife?
I have always had a passion for travel and sustainability, and travelled quite a bit both during and after my studies. While travelling I realised the negative impact we can have through travel and I wanted to be able to help minimise this impact. I did a MSc in Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability at Birkbeck, University of London, and then an internship in the sustainability department at Pacific Asia Travel Association in Bangkok. It was there I first heard about Travelife for Accommodation in London after which I decided to apply for a position.
What is the best part of your job?
I get to work at a motivated organisation with great colleagues and other people who all want to make the world a better place. I also enjoy the variety of things I see accommodation providers do to improve their environmental and social impacts; no two hotels are the same and it is encouraging to see all the great things hotels are doing in sustainability around the world. So many Travelife accommodation providers are doing their very best to operate sustainability, so simply certifying accommodation is satisfying! We know our certification is having positive impacts around the world so that makes the job very rewarding.
What is the most inspiring thing you have seen an accommodation provider do?
There are too many to choose from! One recent one was a property that produces the majority of food served to guests from their own on-site farm. Another inspiring thing we see many hotels in the Mediterranean do is putting protection programmes in place to protect Caretta caretta sea turtles and their breeding grounds.
What advice would you give to a hotel just starting on their sustainability journey?
Just begin and take it one step at a time. Implementing sustainability measures might seem daunting and difficult, but you have to start somewhere! Little changes can have a great impact and the environmental, social and economic benefits of adopting sustainable practices will be highly motivating. Sustainability is not about being perfect, but about making progress.
What one piece of advice would you give to a hotel that is already working with Travelife?
Communicate what you have achieved and the progress you are making in terms of sustainability. Tell your guests, your employees, your suppliers, your local community and anyone else that has an interest in it. You can be proud of what you are doing and can really inspire other businesses and individuals to be better.
Replace meat meals/days with vegetarian or even vegan meals/days a few times each week. This massively reduces your carbon footprint. It’s the best way to have an individual impact!
Plant as many (native) plants in your garden as possible, and if you don’t have one, create a green haven on your balcony. Plants are amazing and absorb carbon dioxide (and other toxins) from the atmosphere.
Compost! It is easy to do yourself and has many environmental perks. It enhances soil, increases biodiversity, reduces greenhouse gases and of course reduces waste going to landfill!
Make your own essentials. We use a lot of products in our homes that are harmful to both the environment and our own health. You can make all sorts of items yourself, such as cleaning products, soaps and skin care.