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Meet Mustafa Sogut, a Travelife Approved Auditor
Each month we feature an interview with a Travelife Approved Auditor. We have around 50 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. Click here to find out more about our requirements for auditors.
Location: Alanya, Antalya, Turkey
Languages: Turkish, English, German (beginner)
Total auditing experience: 9 years
Travelife auditing experience: 9 years
Specialisations: Sustainability, COVID-19 tourism safety, health and safety, security
Auditing fields: Accommodation
Mustafa began his career as a chemist, working in a laboratory for 13 years and during this time, began working in health and safety after completing additional training in this area. Many hotels have to undergo regular health and safety audits in order to comply with local regulations and tour operator requirements, and it was this that led Mustafa into the tourism sector.
In 2012 the Alanya Chamber of Commerce and Industry commenced an initiative that aimed to improve sustainability in tourism, an industry that is extremely important to the economy in this part of Turkey. This led to Travelife working in the area, eventually seeking out auditors to meet a new demand for Travelife Certification in Turkey. At the time, Mustafa was completing a master’s degree in tourism and decided to branch out into sustainability auditing, completing Travelife’s auditor training programme and embarking on his first solo audits in 2013.
Mustafa recently obtained his third university degree and is very active in education alongside his auditing work, delivering communication training sessions and helping to both develop and conduct vocational exams for tourism and hospitality students.
“Sustainability must become part of the culture of hotels"
He believes that staff training is an essential part of embedding sustainability into a business, not only helping with their own operations, but also helping to ensure staff really care about the issues and take this empathy and knowledge home with them, ultimately passing it onto friends and family, creating a positive snowball effect. He feels that once a hotel has an engaged and educated workforce, the other sustainability challenges they face become easier.
Mustafa sees first-hand the challenges the tourism sector faces in keeping staff training current, namely due to the seasonal nature of the industry that sees staff working elsewhere over winter along with higher turnovers, but also due to the impacts of the pandemic. He suggests that businesses need to innovate in this area by embracing new technology and trends. For example, many businesses have successfully adapted advertising so that they deliver core messages about their products on marketing channels such as YouTube and Instagram via use of 10–15-second videos or small yet high-impact graphics. He suggests that businesses consider the same approach for delivering core sustainability messages to staff versus the traditional long lecture-style sessions.
“Technology is changing rapidly and the pandemic showed us that lifestyles can change just as quickly. It is important that we can be innovative, open-minded and ready to adapt both in business and our personal lives.”
Mustafa has been encouraged by the innovation and willingness to adopt new technologies he has seen during Travelife audits. For example, mobile apps are now commonly used to communicate with guests, something that was far less common prior to the pandemic. These are used to provide guests with information about activities, to collect feedback, promote the local area and to share sustainability information. This reduces paper and ink usage, is more hygienic and makes it easier to push information out to guests in real time.
Another example of using technology to improve environmental impacts is hotels that use automated systems to control heating, cooling and ventilation. The technical team is able to manage energy throughout the property from a central point, enabling a staff member to adjust things like the temperature in all guest rooms as the outdoor temperature changes. This makes it far easier for the hotel to conserve energy and therefore reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Mustafa tells us about a recent audit at Tui Blue Palm Garden Hotel in Manavgat where a number of innovations have been employed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. These include recycling heat from outdoor refrigeration units for use in water heating, along with the installation of 300 solar panels that also heat the property’s water.
Top tips from Mustafa for sustainable living
We must care about water and people should remember that they do not own the water flowing out of their tap. Water belongs to whole of humanity and all living things. Covid-19 brought with it an important rule of washing hands for at least 20 seconds but that doesn’t mean you can let the water flow for 20 seconds! Wet your hands, turn the tap off, soap your hands properly and then rinse your hands.
Separating waste and ensuring it is disposed of properly must become a normal part of daily life. Whilst this is becoming an ordinary habit in Europe, it still has not been adopted in Turkey and other parts of the world, leading to extremely harmful pollution that can be avoided.
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