Abta’s Travelife scheme is poised to break into the online travel agency (OTA) market.
The Travelife sustainability-certification scheme for hotels has grown beyond the UK where it was developed to Germany, France and Scandinavia, but it has yet to be recognised by leading OTAs.
However, Expedia is poised to display Travelife hotels in its Green Hotels Programme – following a site redesign – and Dutch-based, not-for-profit booking site Bookdifferent.com will start displaying Travelife hotels within days.
The Bookdifferent site is powered by online giant Booking.com.
Travolution sister publication Travel Weekly understands a third OTA is in talks with Travelife, whose business manager Soren Stober said: “We’re in talks with more than one big OTA.”
Stober said the OTAs’ involvement “would represent a step-change” for Travelife, which was established by the UK Federation of Tour Operators – now part of travel association Abta – in 2007.
Leading operators have previously complained at the failure of OTAs to promote Travelife, which arranges independent audits of hotels based on environmental and social criteria.
Tui Travel sustainable development director Jane Ashton said in October: “It’s no secret when a hotel has a Travelife award. OTAs should be identifying them.”
Stober said: “One challenge is that the OTAs are looking for volume.”
Another issue for OTAs is the sheer number of sustainability schemes around the world. Ashton acknowledged: “Travelife is one of 140 assessment processes.”
But she said: “There was a rigorous process to develop Travelife and it reflects criteria developed by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).”