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  • Writer's pictureToundrigo

Travelife: eco-responsible certification in the making!

Driven by a greener vision of the incoming business, our co-president Jean-Christophe Viard wanted to commit the ToundriGo teams to a Sustainable Tourism certification process. The goal? To obtain the Travelife label by the 1st quarter of 2024! This mission has been accepted by the members of the ToundrigoCare Committee, who form the core group in charge of steering the various aspects of this project, while ensuring good business and HR/CSR practices.

« This process is not just an administrative review or audit, it's here to help us move ToundriGo towards an even greater commitment to promoting more sustainable tourism, to safeguarding our planet and to a positive, optimistic and enthusiastic vision of our profession. It's an exciting challenge: how can we - as a corporate citizen - make our contribution to the ecological and responsible transition of our tourism industry? » harangues Jean-Christophe Viard with passion.

Convinced of the value and merits of applying more sustainable practices within our industry for many years, he also sits on the Board of Directors of Tourisme Durable Québec.

It was here, in fact, that he met Isabelle Pécheux, head of the Passion Terre agency, which specializes in sustainable tourism consulting and training. Isabelle and her colleague Véronique will be by ToundriGo's side every step of the way, helping us to achieve the demanding, meticulous and dense project of obtaining Travelife certification!

Valérie and Isabelle (Passion Terre)

Travelife: consistent and appropriate certification

When it comes to sustainability, there are a multitude of "green" labels and certifications. That's why it's important to make the right choice! Travelife is a fair trade program that helps tour operators and travel agencies manage and improve their social and environmental impacts, in line with international sustainability criteria.

In other words, it's a certification that adapts the sustainable development objectives dictated by the UN (United Nations Organization) to the tourism industry. A logical choice for ToundriGo, which will have to comply with the requirements of a set of standards specifically designed for the receptive business, in order to become certified.

Over 200 criteria and measures, covering all areas of travel agency management, form the evaluation grid for the final audit. Travelife covers themes linked to sustainable development and corporate social responsibility (CSR), such as waste management, occupational health and safety, relations with local communities and ecosystem protection.

Objectif 2024: a journey marked by milestones

The certification program follows a three-stage process, with each stage advancing the company's status. Currently, ToundriGo is in the process of becoming "Travelife committed", meaning that a committee has been set up and is forming with the Passion Terre agency to implement good business practices. The ToundriCare team sets about defining ToundriGo's mission and shared vision for the project. It will then be essential to carry out an internal and external diagnosis of our various brands, and to move forward with the implementation of processes in line with the basic requirements assessed by Travelife.

At this stage, if our activity report is compliant, i.e. corresponds to the requirements of the standard, ToundriGo will officially become a Travelife "partner". We can then start communicating with our customers and stakeholders.

Finally, the company's compliance with all international standards will be assessed by an independent auditor. For this stage, the requirements are more stringent than those required to become a partner. If the audit is successful, ToundriGo will be proudly get certified!

ToundrigoCare Committee

Marie Ardouin, HR/CSR Coordinator, shares her vision of the whole project.

Marie divides her week between her office at ToundriGo and the benches of HEC Montréal as part of her Master's degree in Sustainable Development! So it's only natural that Marie should be entrusted with steering, monitoring and writing processes for Travelife, managing certification deadlines and monitoring ToundriCare's CSR-HR impacts. Quite a program!

Does the deadline of early 2024 seem reasonable?

Yes, because we already have a solid base in terms of practices. The long part will be to put all this into written processes, but the soil is fertile! The desire to embark ToundriGo on a solid CSR project is nothing new for its presidents.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, sustainability-related actions were put in place at the office, and have resumed since September, such as composting and eco-responsible happy hours. I would add that if we are to meet the deadline and succeed in our challenge, it will be essential for everyone to get involved. We need to get all our staff on board. And let's not forget that the final milestone on the road to certification is the audit, which means that someone will come along to scrutinize the processes we've put in place and make sure they're being respected by everyone!

Why is Travelife an important project in terms of CSR policy?

We're going to be able to highlight the social aspects of this certification, which promote employee well-being. For example, it's essential to have a telecommuting policy, as this has become a reality in the working world. First of all, it has a positive impact in terms of sustainability, as it saves on transport to the office. It also improves work-life balance and demonstrates the manager's confidence, which in turn contributes to employee comfort.

On the other hand, we'll be able to highlight sustainability issues, which are also linked to CSR. At every interview I conduct, future employees systematically ask me how ToundriGo is committed to sustainable development. It's at the heart of the concerns of the new generation arriving on the job market and who have grown up with these notions!

I think that in equal working conditions, between a company that doesn't communicate and one that is committed, the choice is quickly made for the candidate... Soon, I'll be able to rely on Travelife, which certifies that ToundriGo applies established processes in line with a recognized and legitimate reference framework.

What does Travelife certification mean in practical terms for our employees?

In effect, the global document drawn up as part of the certification process will become our official ToundriGo CSR policy. This document can be provided to employees in the same way as the HR policy document provided at the time of hiring. As far as the societal aspect is concerned, this concerns attitude at work, for example, but also concrete subjects such as fair pay, gender equality and transparent governance.

On the other hand, in concrete terms, Travelife will lead us to adjust or modify our current ways of doing things. Each department will need to be aware of its own processes and apply them correctly. I'd like to emphasize a point that seems important to me: we mustn't place sustainability above the other processes already established, which are just as important, nor separate the subject of sustainability in a separate document.

The idea is to incorporate, to graft, the "sustainable development" part. For example, when we ask a supplier for his rates, we shouldn't dissociate it from the fact of also asking him about his waste management, in order to respect our Travelife eco-responsible commitments.

Marie Ardouin - HR/CSR Coordinator

Change is always a bit scary... How do you convince your employees?

At ToundriGo, we're fortunate that our employees are sensitive to sustainability issues and already have good reflexes in their office life. As far as the business processes to be established are concerned, they are going to be the pioneers of new ways of doing things!

There's always a period of adaptation and adjustment, but once assimilated and integrated, these processes will become the norm and will be passed on to our future employees. Even if the transition phase is always a little laborious, the benefits are easy to see and should become a driving force for involvement.

What is the key to success in obtaining Travelife certification?

Working together towards common goals is the key to success. If there are major changes to be implemented, the near future will tell, but it seems essential to me that all brand departments get on board and give weight to this approach. Cross-functionality is a cardinal value of our company, and I have no doubt that everyone will be involved in this initiative, which is supported by our Presidents.

What's more, it's important to communicate what we're doing every step of the way. Employees need to understand why tomorrow's coffee machine might have to change in order to comply with the Travelife standard! (Laughs). I'm caricaturing here, but once again, internal communication, information sharing and collective involvement are the key to success!

Finally, we're in the process of building a solid foundation. It's essential to put things down in writing, because the written word remains, and that's true at all times. If tomorrow the whole of ToundriCare resigns, this will not affect our processes, their transmission and therefore the success of obtaining Travelife certification.

The final word?

We can't wait, it's a project that makes a lot of sense! We also welcome any good ideas and/or initiatives. We invite employees to come and meet one of the members of the ToundriCare committee for a chat. I'll end by borrowing the words of Jean-Christophe Viard: "Let's get involved!"

If you too have eyes that sparkle when we talk about sustainable development, and you'd like to join an innovative and committed team, this is the place to discover our job offers.

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