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2021/22 Travelife Standard Review
Travelife is committed to providing a robust and reliable accommodation certification that helps accommodations providers independently verify their sustainability credentials in areas that are important to consumers and travel companies, and in ways that have real-world impacts on environmental and social performance. We are currently carrying out a review of the Travelife Standard because it has been over 5-years since a formal review was last conducted. This review had been delayed due to the impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on Travelife. It is best practice to review any certification standard every 5-years to ensure that it remains relevant and considers technological and/or legislative changes. The current Travelife standard can be viewed here as a checklist that we provide to accommodation providers and auditors.
During this review process, we will only make changes to our requirements if at least one of the following situations apply:
The changes will improve the overall sustainability performance of Travelife accommodation providers but will not exclude properties simply because of their size, budget, or location, who would have otherwise achieved Travelife Certification under our current requirements.
The changes address important and relevant sustainability issues, legislative changes or technological advances that have emerged since the last review but will not exclude properties simply because of their size, budget, or location, who would have otherwise achieved Travelife Certification under our current requirements.
These changes are required to comply with the GSTC (Global Sustainable Tourism Council) Industry Criteria for Hotels.
There are three groups of people who inform Travelife’s decisions about what changes should be made.
An internal working group is formed that is comprised of staff and contractors who understand the implication that changes will have on accommodation providers, auditors, certification decisions, general business operations including business performance, and other stakeholders. This group determine what changes are required then seek feedback from stakeholders and the Travelife Technical Committee on the proposed changes. They are responsible for developing the updated standard.
The Travelife Technical Committee is comprised of individuals representing Travelife’s main stakeholder groups. Only one Travelife staff member sits on this committee thus ensuring independence and impartiality. This committee reviews the proposed standard changes and provides feedback to the Travelife working group.
External stakeholders are identified and invited to provide feedback via surveys during the review process. Travelife understands the need to seek opinions from a diverse range of organisations and geographical locations, so every effort is made to invite feedback from Travelife Certified accommodation providers, Travelife Approved Auditors, travel companies, tourism organisations, sustainability NGOs and sustainability experts.
The exact process differs for each review depending on the purpose and scope. The review currently being undertaken primarily seeks to ensure that the standard covers important and relevant sustainability issues, legislative changes or technological advances that have emerged since the last review. For this review the process is as follows: –
Step 1: A survey will be sent to the external stakeholders asking them about issues that are important to them that are not covered by the current standard and what they think the emerging sustainability issues are. They will be asked if they wish to participate in a second round of consultation when they will give feedback on the proposed changes to the standard.
Step 2: The internal working group assess this feedback and use their own sustainability experience to propose changes, being sure that any changes meet the GSTC Industry Criteria for Hotels.
Step 3: A first draft is sent to the Travelife Technical Committee who provide their feedback. The internal working group assesses this feedback and decides if any further changes need to be made.
Step 4: The proposed changes are sent to the external stakeholders in the form of a survey. This will involve the stakeholders who opted to participate in this second round of consultation.
Step 5: The internal working group assesses the feedback from the stakeholders and decides if any further changes should be made.
Step 6: A final draft of the standard undergoes a risk assessment that looks at how the proposed changes will affect Travelife Certified accommodation providers, auditing practices and general Travelife operations. This may necessitate some further amendments to the final draft.
Step 7: The final updated standard is sent to GSTC along with an application for GSTC recognition. Should GSTC deny the application then further changes may need to be made.
Step 8: Once the new standard is GSTC recognised, Travelife commences implementation of the new standard which could take several months as it may require additional auditor training, updating guidance documents for accommodation and ensuring Travelife accommodation providers understand any new requirements.
It is too early to give an exact date, but Travelife is aiming to be auditing under the updated standard sometime in 2023. Travelife accommodation providers can be assured that our main concern is ensuring a smooth transition for them and that they will not have to repeat any audits carried out under the current standard. We will give all our subscribers plenty of notice about the implementation date and what changes they will need to make to comply with our new requirements during their next audit.
We are at step 7 – we have applied to GSTC for re-recognition of the updated standard.