THE 6 STEP CERTIFICATION PLAN
Whether this is your first audit or you are an experienced Travelife Member, we recommend you follow our 6 Step Certification Plan so that you are as prepared as possible for your audit and have the best chance of achieving Travelife Gold Certification.
I: Find the right Travelife Checklist
Before you begin you will need to make sure you are using the right standard for the size of your property. There are three versions of the Travelife Checklist that differ based on guest occupancy. Click here to visit the Travelife Checklist page in the Member Zone. It automatically shows you which requirements your property must comply with based on the type of Membership you have and there are PDFs available to download in multiple languages.
II: Appoint a Travelife Leader
Your entire certification process will run a lot smoother if one person takes responsibility for it. It is also a Travelife requirement that your business identifies an individual to take this on, and that they have enough time to complete their work. In many hotels the General Manager or their assistant takes on this role, but it can be any person who has a broad understanding of your operations, has good relationships with department heads and is trusted by senior management to take on the responsibility.
III: Involve other staff
We recommend that you form a team of relevant staff to help you through the process. You will be spending time looking at things like laws, regulations and business documentation and we find that it is mostly the general manager (or their assistant), human resources and maintenance managers involved at this stage, although you may need to consult with other department heads. You will also be reviewing your current systems and processes for energy, water, waste, chemicals and procurement. We find that this primarily involves maintenance, food & beverage and housekeeping. This team should be briefed on what is happening and should identify what areas of the Travelife Standard they will need to help with.
IV: Collect information and arrange access
You will need access to a variety of documents from permits and licenses through to maintenance records. If the staff member leading your Travelife work is not a member of the senior management team, then you will need to ensure they have permission to access all of this information including things like payroll records. You will also need access to all areas of your property so that you can assess how well you are already complying with the Standard.
V: Identifying what you do well and what you need to improve
Again, it is up to you how you do this but here is a process we think most of our Members will find useful. We have suggested a manual process, but you might be able to save paper (and time) by using a portable device such as a tablet: -
- Print the correct Travelife Checklist
- Go through each question. If you think you have evidence to show that you do comply, then you should make a note of what that evidence is. Where you do not comply, make a note of what you need to change or improve.
- Transfer these notes to a document that you will use to create an plan that ensures you make all of the required improvements before your audit.
I: Make an improvement plan
This should include a list of the Travelife criteria that you do not yet comply with and what actions you will take. There are many tools in the Member Zone to help you with this process so make sure you have checked the criterion you need to work on in the Sustainability Toolkit. How you write your action plan it up to you and we have provided an example below of one way you could do it.
II: Implement your plan and monitor your progress
Here are some things we recommend to help you implement and monitor your improvement plan:-
Schedule time to work on your plan: The Travelife Leader should set aside regular time to work on improvements. Much of this work will rely on other people or departments, so plan meetings with the right staff ahead of time so they can set aside time to work on this too.
Keep senior management informed: If you are not part of the senior management team then make sure you keep relevant senior managers informed. They might need to authorise purchases, sign off policies or ask other staff to carry out tasks, so it is important that they are supporting this work.
Regular meetings: Add Travelife to the agenda of department head meetings so you can discuss the progress each department is making and plan upcoming work.
Seek general staff support: See if you can add the topic to a general staff briefing (or to department briefings) so that all staff at your property understand what is happening and how to support your company's sustainability work.
Travelife Members can contact us at any time to schedule an audit by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org with a selection of dates over the next few months. Please remember that it can take us 4-weeks to find an auditor who is available to come to your destination so it helps if you are flexible with dates or have a good range of options for us to work with.
Scheduling your first Travelife audit
We recommend that you schedule your audit between 3 and 6-months after you join Travelife. This should give you enough time to assess where you are at, then plan and implement your improvements. You can contact us any time by e-mailing email@example.com to schedule your audit. If we have not heard from you, we will begin the process automatically about 3-months after you became a Member. But do not worry because we will not confirm an audit date without your agreement and permission.
Scheduling an audit to renew your Travelife Certification
To maintain your Travelife Certification, you will need to be audited every two years. We recommend you being assessing your performance and planning any improvements you need to make about 6-months before your certification expires. You can get in touch with us any time before your Certification expires to schedule an audit. If we have not heard from you, we will contact you from about 3-months prior to arrange it
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can we choose our audit date?
We will do our best to accommodate special requests for dates but are not able to make any guarantees as it will depend on the availability of auditors and their travel schedules. We begin the audit allocation process three months in advance, so the more notice you can give us the better. Once an auditor has been allocated to you, it will be up to you and the auditor to arrange a date and time that suits you both.
What if we cancel or change our audit date?
If you cancel or change a confirmed audit date within 30-days of the Auditor's scheduled arrival, or refuse to let them carry out a scheduled audit when they arrive, you may be charged up to €1,500 to cover any travel cancellation fees and lost wages that the auditor incurs. Click here to view our Membership Terms & Conditions that explain Travelife and Member obligations for audits.
Can we request a specific auditor?
It is important that our Approved Auditors remain independent, objective and impartial so they must abide to a strict Code of Conduct and sign our Anti-Corruption and Bribery Policy. In order to maintain this independence we do not allow our Members to choose their auditors or vice-versa. We ask our Auditors to declare any connection they have with our Members and we typically will not allocate an Auditor to a property that they have any relationship with, past or present.
It is important to remember that Travelife use independent auditors who are free to decide the best way to audit your property. That means Travelife cannot tell you what they will ask to see, who they will ask to talk to or where they might want to go. We know that many Members fail on some of our requirements because of simple things like not being able to find documents or not being able to find keys to things like storage rooms that an auditor asks to inspect. It is worth spending some time being prepared and here are our tips to help you: -
Answer emails promptly and accurately: Your auditor will be in touch with you directly to reconfirm dates, times, directions and so on. They may also have other more general questions about your property that will help prepare for a more smooth-running audit day. Please respond to their e-mails promptly and accurately.
Know where to find documents: Go through the Travelife Checklist and make sure you know where to find all of the documentation you might need to show. The auditor is required to keep any information they learn about your staff and your operations confidential (except for disclosing information to Travelife for the purpose of writing your audit report). Travelife are also required to keep information confidential and to store this safely as part of our Membership Agreement with you. Therefore, the auditor we will not accept confidentiality as a reason for not showing auditors the documents they ask for.
Make sure you can access any area of your property: You may not refuse access and they will not accept things like not being able to find keys or an appropriate staff member as a valid reason for denying access to them. We recommend you spend time thinking about this before the audit. For example, will they be able to access the roof to inspect solar panels or air-conditioning units? Can they get into service ducts, boiler rooms, pool filter rooms and storage rooms? Can they access a variety of guest rooms?
Staff interviews: Your auditor may ask to interview staff without anybody else from your company present. They are allowed to choose these staff at random and you are expected to make them available as soon as possible and provide a private area for the interview to take place. You will immediately lose any Certification you hold and your Travelife Membership if we find out that any kind of threats or retaliation were made against staff in an effort to get them to provide false answers in these interview.
Have staff with the right knowledge available: Your auditor may have specific technical and procedural questions about your operations that they will want to ask directly to people working in the relevant departments. This could include housekeepers, kitchen staff, engineers, waiting staff, groundskeepers and so on. We recommend that you make sure that staff representing all of your departments who know exactly what procedures they follow are available on the day. Auditors will not accept staff absence as a reason for not providing evidence for a certain requirement.
YOUR AUDIT REPORT
Your audit report will be available in the Travelife Technical Zone once it has gone through a thorough quality check by the Travelife Team. During peak periods this can take up to 30-days but we do our best to make it available a lot sooner.
Click here to login to your secure area of the Travelife Technical Zone. This is in a completely different system to this website and you will need to use the log-in details that Travelife sent you when you first joined. If you have lost or forgotten these, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send your new details as soon as possible.
THE OUTCOME OF YOUR AUDIT
Your audit report will show one of three things: -
You are certified: This means we found evidence that you complied with all of the requirements of the Travelife Standard. We will e-mail you to explain what happens next.
You need to make some improvements: This means that you did not comply with between 1 and 40 of the requirements in the Travelife Standard. Someone from our Certifications, Compliance and Quality Control team will tell you what you need to do in order to meet these requirements including what sort of evidence you need to send us. You will need to let us know that you have started making improvements within 1-month of receiving your audit report, otherwise we will assume you do not intend to continue and fail your audit. You will need to complete all of the improvements within 6-months of receiving your audit report, otherwise you will need to pay for another audit.
You did not meet more than 40 of the Travelife Requirements: If you have 40 or more improvements to make then you will need to pay to have another audit. Our team will be in touch with you to explain why this happened and how to arrange a repeat audit.
COMPLAINTS AND APPEALS ABOUT THE AUDIT AND CERTIFICATION PROCESS
You have the right to make an appeal if you disagree with a decision that has been made about whether or not you have complied with the Travelife Standard. You also have the right to complain if you feel that you experienced inappropriate or unprofessional behaviour from a Travelife Auditor or staff member at any time during your audit and certification process. Click here to view our policy and procedures for complaints and appeals.
Whether you are a new Member or renewing your Certification, once you achieve Travelife Gold you will receive an email from our Member Support Team. We will tell you about the benefits and resources you are able to use to promote your sustainability certification. These include: -
Travelife Gold Certificate: This will be attached to the e-mail so you can print it in colour immediately. Please remember that it is a Travelife requirement that this certificate is displayed in a public area of your property.
Travelife Gold Logo: This will be attached to the e-mail along with the Travelife Brand Guidelines that explain how you can use it.
Travelife Collection: You will be sent instructions about how to upload and manage your listing on the Travelife Collection. This is a website where travellers and travel agents can search for Travelife Certified properties. You can use your listing to communicate your sustainability achievements to existing and potential guests.
Travelife Gold Plaque: Due to the environmental cost of producing, shipping and disposing of Travelife Gold Plaques, we are discouraging their use. Members who receive Gold Certification from 1st April 2019 may order them from us at an additional cost as part of the Gold Pack (see below).
The Gold Pack: This is available on request for Members who receive their Gold Certification from 1st April 2019. It includes a specially printed and gold embossed certificate, a window/door decal sticker and a plaque. The cost is €55 including shipping and in order to offset some of the environmental impacts of producing and shipping the pack, we will donate €5 for every pack purchased to WasteAid, a UK charity dedicated to waste issues in developing countries that lack good waste infrastructure. ChainConnect Members and those that have had a Certification for 6 consecutive years (without it ever lapsing during that period) can request a Gold Pack free of charge from email@example.com.
Gold Pack Order Form
COVID-19 MESSAGE: Due to restrictions in place in the United Kingdom, Travelife are currently unable to send any Gold Packs. You may still submit your request but please remember that it may take us several weeks to fulfil your order. Thank you for your patience.