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Meet Travelife business development manager, Larisa Birthwright

Based at our London office, Larisa oversees sales and retention opportunities for all global markets with the exception of Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries that are handled by her colleague, which we’ll be featuring in a future interview.

Describe your role at Travelife.

Having worked at Travelife for many years, I’ve been lucky to have had various roles and responsibilities in the business. The main part of my current role involves ensuring the delivery of Travelife’s general acquisition and retention targets, however, I also take care of promoting and executing Travelife’s ChainConnect programme in non-Spanish and Portuguese-speaking markets. This also includes assisting a variety of suppliers such as independent hotels, chains, online travel agents, associations, destinations and tour operators with their accommodation certification strategies.

A typical day for me usually involves following up with businesses who have expressed an interest in Travelife for Accommodation Certification. Alongside that, investigating businesses who may benefit from our certification and sending an introduction to key decision makers. The rest of the day is spent brainstorming new ways to engage businesses, destinations and other industry organisations.

How did you end up working at Travelife?

I completed my BA Hons Degree in International Tourism Management in 2008. Shortly after graduating I spent 12 months in a temporary administrator’s position within ABTA, the Travel Association. The Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA had merged that same year and relocated to a shared office in 2009. Travelife for Accommodation sat within the FTO’s operations and began recruiting Support Assistants. Having focused on sustainability in developing destinations in the third year of my degree, I put my CV forward, had an interview and was lucky enough to be offered a job.

Prior to my degree I spent time in short work placements within hotels. Two of my favourites come to mind as they are part of the Red Carnation Group in Mayfair and on Buckingham Palace Road, London.

What is the best part of your job?

Working with people in so many destinations across the globe. Everyone has a rich and vibrant culture and share a passion for sustainable tourism. The best part of the job is also the Travelife team. Again, a very diverse team with a range of knowledge, expertise and passion about what we do.

What is the most inspiring thing you have seen an accommodation provider do?

In many societies where certain people are often overlooked or disregarded, a hotel made it their mission to train and provide jobs to people with various health and social care needs. Thus, providing jobs to people who typically would not have received such opportunities.

What advice would you give to a hotel just starting on their sustainability journey?

Take time to understand what you are already doing and where you can make improvements. Once you see how far along you are, you’ll find it easier to implement new activities and processes or improve the ones you already have. The Travelife Quick Self-Assessment is a great place to start that journey too.

What one piece of advice would you give to a hotel that is already working with Travelife?

Even if you think you’ve done everything you can – there is always something extra you can do to make a difference. Other than that, keep up the good work!

Larisa's top tip for sustainable living

Personally, I try to avoid food waste – if it’s got a short self-life, use it or freeze it. If you’re mostly on a veggie-based diet you can make a lot of dishes with vegetables and you can never have too many either. Depending how you cook them, they also taste great the next day, hot or cold. So eat them before they have a chance to go bad.

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