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Meet Sotiris Milonas, 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. Click here to find out more about our requirements for auditors.
Location: Thessaloniki, Greece
Languages: Greek and English with Spanish coming soon!
Total auditing experience: 20 years
Travelife auditing experience: 10 years
Specialisations: Sustainability, carbon emissions, waste management, ESG (environmental, social and governance)
Auditing fields: Accommodation, tour operators, manufacturing, accreditation of certification labels
Sotiris’s career in sustainability began in the 1990s when after completing studies in civil engineering he became interested in how to incorporate environmental management strategies into business. By the early 2000s it had become apparent to him that in order for us to achieve a truly sustainable future, businesses had to take a holistic approach by incorporating the environmental, social and economic pillars of sustainability into their strategy and operations.
He knew he wanted to be part of that so embarked on studies focused on sustainability management, completing an MBA and attending hundreds of seminars to increase his knowledge, something he continues to this day so he can be sure he is up-to-date on the latest trends, issues and solutions.
He felt that auditing was the best way to interact with as many companies as possible and that tourism was positioned as a sector that could make real impacts because it brings together a huge variety of supply chains, sectors, people and places. That lead him to becoming a Travelife auditor where he says one of his favourite parts of the job is finding out that a hotel he audited has achieved their Travelife Gold Certification because that means that another company has become a sustainability ambassador.
“Sustainability is not a parallel business action that is separate from other operational areas, it must be embedded within business strategy and day-to-day operations.”
Sotiris believes that any organisation wanting to become more sustainable must do it with a genuine commitment, especially from leadership where he believes senior managers need to be specifically given roles and performance objectives relating to a company’s sustainability goals and commitments. He says it is essential to give equal importance to social issues, rather than just focusing on environmental impacts and that reporting is critical to ensure a sustainability strategy stays on-track. This also provides transparency to stakeholders, especially customers and the local community.
Simple solutions can offer some of the best innovations
Sotiris has been encouraged by the many innovations he has seen during Travelife audits but one hotel, an isolated property in Sri Lanka, really stood out and made him question why these kind of solutions weren’t more widely used.
“They were using PV solar for electricity production and converting all of their organic waste to energy using simple technologies that we sadly rarely see in more mainstream areas of hospitality”
He also has some advice for accommodation providers preparing for their Travelife audit. “Don’t hide anything from the auditor as it will only make things worse and hold you back from achieving your goals. And ask the Travelife team if you have any questions, they will always support you.”
Top tips from Sotiris for sustainable living
Start thinking about things in a circular way versus linear, essentially taking a ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ approach.
Make a promise that you and your household will become carbon neutral. Your plan for achieving that should include reducing consumption and offsetting the emissions you are unable to reduce.
Think socially. All actions, including environmental actions, must benefit the community.
More from Travelife
Visit one of the pages below to read more about accommodation sustainability and the hotels that we work with. You can click here to sign-up for our regular email updates that include more articles like this, sustainability tips, links to our latest blog posts and our featured hotel of the month.
A page featuring our latest hotel of the month for excellence in sustainability, and other Travelife Gold Certified properties who are going the extra mile. Click here to visit the hotel showcase page.
Each month we publish an article that we hope will help any business in any sector get started with being more sustainable. Click here to visit the News & Blog page.
How certification works
From our home page at www.travelifestaybetter.com you can access a wealth of information about our certification process and the travel companies we work with.