Promoting Collaboration as a Sustainability Coordinator

Teamwork and Collaboration for Green Business Practices: Lessons from a Sustainability Coordinator

Inês Francisco, Sales and sustainability manager at COMPASSO DMC in Portugal, shares her journey of developing, deepening and applying sustainability knowledge, and working as a sustainability coordinator to facilitate the implementation of sustainability management steps as part of a certification process.
Inês Francisco
Inês Francisco

Sales and Sustainability Manager at COMPASSO DMC

Inês Francisco, Sales and sustainability manager at COMPASSO DMC in Portugal
Inês Francisco

Growing Up with a Sustainability Mindset

Sustainability has always been present in my life. 

I grew up hearing my parents saying “we must save water, close the tap when you’re not using it” or “turn the lights off, after leaving the room”, or even “do not waste food, eat everything you have there”, classic right? Also, we’ve separated the trash and recycled, had less water on the toilet discharger, among other daily routines, since my childhood. 

We’ve always traveled a lot as a family, taking two or three trips all together every year, many of which were within our own beautiful country, Portugal. I believe that, even without knowing, that’s when my passion began. 
I joined COMPASSO in 2019, as a Sales and Marketing Assistant. My goal was to develop our image and find new clients. Then, once I started to figure out how it would work, the pandemic came, … and we all know how that went. 

Deepening Sustainability Knowledge

During my time at home, I thought it would be good to learn a bit more about sustainability in the tourism business. So, I took a few online courses about social responsibility, circular economy, resources management, sustainable finance, innovation and so on. There were people attending from different places in Portugal and it was amazing to learn, for example, how aware and developed the Azores were already, compared to the mainland, for a more sustainable tourism.  
COMPASSO is a DMC opened in 1997, to promote the best Portugal has to offer for groups and events. My mom started it with 2 other partners, but in 2009 they split and she took the entire leadership of the company. 

Our team has been working together for more than 20 years, it feels like a second family because we do take care of each other and the management has always made that a priority. 

Sustainability has also been a part of our business for quite a while, and the fact that we work mostly with the Scandinavian market has also helped us see things differently.

We’ve always given preference to Portuguese companies, sourced local and traditional activities, restaurants, and authentic experiences. We’ve made changes at the office along the way, in order to reduce paper use (which we had already achieved back in 2011-12 to reduce 80%), printing and other supplies, as well as removing single-use plastic items.

Rossio square Lisbon
 Rossio square in Lisbon, one of the wonderful areas for walking tours

Taking on the Responsibility of a Sustainability Coordinator

Last year, the opportunity to start a process of certification in sustainability with Travelife came up and we took it. Since we had already some practices implemented, this was the expected step forward. I was promoted to Sales and Sustainability Manager, as I proudly took the challenge to be the sustainability coordinator for the entire process and onwards.

At first, I felt overwhelmed: so many questions, so many criteria to fit in, I didn’t know where to start. Then, the more I talked to people within the industry and experts on the subject, the more I realized it didn’t have to be so complicated. We were also actually doing many of the things necessary, without being aware of it. 

One real challenge was to make sure the procedures were documented. Many practices had been implemented over the years but were not written in a proper manual. Another challenge we are facing now is to make sure people follow the new processes and adapt to the new practices. We know humans are creatures of habits and some of them are hard to break. However, it’s all about how we communicate and involve the people, in the right way. 
At COMPASSO, we really want to be part of the solution. We want to create a good impact, to contribute to Portugal as a more sustainable destination, involving all our partners, both suppliers and clients. From the office day-by-day life to every program suggested to our clients, we’re committed to be greener and always look for the most sustainable options. 

I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished so far and ready to further explore ways to contribute to a more sustainable tourism!

Sintra Natural Park
A view over the Atlantic Ocean, during a hiking tour in Sintra Natural Park

Teamwork and a Shared Sense of Community

As a leader in the Portuguese scouts association (CNE), I have strong values and practices that I apply every day. Teamwork and sense of community are two that I appreciate the most. I know I can trust my teammates, I’m not alone in this path and there will always be someone who knows more and is willing to help. 

That’s also something that I’m thankful for in TrainingAid. As I joined a course organized by TrainingAid for small businesses from across Europe, the experience showed me a totally different community of industry professionals sharing the common goal of sustainability; each with different challenges but learning from each other as we shared our experiences and lessons. 

Sustainability is really a vision we must share, to leave the world better than we’ve found it.


Inês FranciscoInês was born and raised in the Cascais area in Portugal. Sales and sustainability manager at COMPASSO DMC, studied Tourism Management. Passionate about Portugal and its opportunities for the MICE industry.