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Meet Rahm Garas, 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.
Languages: Arabic, English, French, German (beginner)
Total auditing experience: 15 years
Travelife auditing experience: 7 years
Specialisations: Sustainability, food safety and hygiene, risk management, health and safety, ISO standard (14001, 45001, 9001, 22000), HACCP, GMP
Auditing fields: Accommodation, restaurants, catering, food manufacturing, retail, health care, telecommunications, agriculture, construction
Rahm has been working in the area of auditing and certification in tourism for several years when he was asked, due to his extensive knowledge of this subject, to translate the Travelife for Accommodation certification checklist into Arabic. This led to a greater understanding of how sustainability certification works for hotels and as soon as an opportunity arose, Rahm completed Travelife’s auditor training programme and since then has audited extensively for Travelife in North Africa.
Over the years Rahm has seen growing concern about the environmental impacts of tourism, with a demand for hotels to ‘go green’ coming from within the industry in North Africa. He believes that an essential part of that is hotels accurately tracking their environmental impacts, through consistently taking measurements and ensuring performance is reviewed annually.
He also finds that the most proactive and successful hotels are really engaging with guests and staff on environmental issues, ensuring that they are educating them about why sustainability is so important, and how each person can affect positive change. Hotels cannot hope to have meaningful impacts if they are not supported by staff and guests in their efforts to operate responsibly. He stresses that effective communications are therefore an essential part of sustainability management, and suggests that businesses make use of all channels available to them, such as social media and email campaigns, in order to deliver key messages.
Rahm also reminds us that changes to procurement practices can be incredibly effective, offering quick wins with minimal investment. For example, buying new items such as linens and paper products that are made from recycled materials, and investing in technology to help with the effective separation and disposal of waste.
“When you make your staff happy, you make your guests happy.”
Being a responsible business is about much more than managing your environmental impacts. Rahm pointed out that fair labour practices not only ensure people are being treated properly, but also lead to increased guest satisfaction as staff are more likely to treat guests well if they have been treated well themselves. He said that a lot more effort is needed to achieve labour equality in the Middle East and Africa, and that achieving Travelife certification can help address that by ensuring that anti-discrimination and other fair labour practices are embedded into business operations.
Some of the best innovations he has seen during recent audits is the widespread move away from paper at hotels, with the introduction of services like online check-in and emailed hotel bills. He is also seeing increasing adoption of automation to control things like air-conditioning, lighting and water consumption along with technology that allows hotels to stay on top of maintenance issues more effectively, reducing instances of leaks or other inefficiencies that can increase greenhouse gas emissions.
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