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Meet Sander Verschuren, a Travelife Approved Auditor
Each month we feature an interview with a Travelife Approved Auditor. We have around 60 independently contracted auditors based around the world that must undergo an intensive training programme before they can audit with us. To continue carrying out audits for Travelife they must complete annual refresher training and a yearly performance review. Haga clic aquí to find out more about our requirements for auditors.
Location: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Idiomas: English and Dutch
Total auditing experience: 10 years
Travelife auditing experience: 6 years
Specialisations: Sustainability, clean beaches, organic menus, energy efficient buildings
Auditing fields: Festivals, beaches, theatres, music venues and restaurants
Although Travelife do not allow coaching during the certification process, we encourage our auditors to share best practices with hotels that will help them go above and beyond our minimum requirements. Sander says that this is one of his favourite aspects of auditing for Travelife. Over the past 10 years he has visited more than 500 different accommodation providers, leaving him with many examples of innovations in sustainability that he enjoys sharing with the hotel staff he meets.
“Certification is a useful tool that hotels can use to show to their stakeholders that they have achieved high standards covering all aspects of sustainability, and that these have been verified by an independent third party.”
Although he has seen many best practices over the years, one of the most effective is when a property has an annual plan for sustainability that covers employee, guest and community engagement. For example, in June they raise money for a local turtle charity programme, they designate July as a plastic-free month in the restaurant and in August they organise daily beach clean-ups or harvest vegetables and fruit from their kitchen garden with guests. He finds this keeps staff interested and offers great opportunities to give guests and other stakeholders good visibility of the important actions a hotel is taking.
Sander’s advice for success in sustainable business
For a business to be successful, Sander believes that an organisation must start with creating a vision that is relevant to the company along with their stakeholders such as staff, community members and customers. He suggests asking questions like why is sustainability important for your company? What is the sustainable ambition of your company?
Sander’s experience has shown him that regardless of what the sustainability vision is, it should be placed at the heart of a company’s values and become a multilevel strategy that begins with support from senior management and is properly resourced. He suggests creating a ‘green team’ comprising a variety of cross-department employees from all levels who are given responsibility for delivering the sustainability programme. They should have monthly meetings to review and update progress, with regular reports to senior management.
He says that another success factor is communicating progress to all stakeholders, including employees, suppliers, the local community and guests. This will hopefully encourage them to join the organisation’s efforts so that more and more people start taking action. He asks businesses to remember that they should always communicate in a positive way about sustainability, something that we agree with at Travelife in terms of inspiration being the best form of motivation to improve.
Top tips from Sander for sustainable living
At every step ask yourself, what is the most sustainable option I can use? There is always a sustainable option!
Always ask for a sustainable option when shopping, dining or procuring any other kind of product or service. This contributes to general demand so that over time the options available to consumers become more and more sustainable.
You can change the world by starting with yourself and starting today. Every step has an impact, even the little steps.
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