Launched in 2018, The Fabulous Tourism Academy supports women looking to grow their tourism businesses or become entrepreneurs. Jeremy Smith spoke with its founder, Carole Favre, about the programme and its aims.
JEREMY: What inspired you to start this academy?
CAROLE: I taught tourism at both HE and FE levels in the UK, principally to young women. Then one Christmas I took a community-based hiking trip in Ethiopia and decided there and then that I wanted to take my teaching skills into communities to develop similar projects. In fact, it became obvious that having grown up with parents who were shopkeepers, I had been ‘wired’ into helping micro businesses – this is where my heart was. So I became a Market Access Expert for MSEs and ran workshops in developing countries (e.g. Haiti, Lesotho, Timor-Leste) for several international and national organisations to help micro entrepreneurs create sustainable experience-based businesses.
I came across many women who had a lot of ambition but little knowledge and even less support to grow their business. They clearly needed more help than I was allowed to give them, and for longer. I grew up being told that a woman could not have ambition… but I did not listen, studied all that I could, and changed that narrative. And there I was, talking to women who were going through a similar experience. I just could not stand still and watch this continue to happen. This is why I created The Fabulous Tourism Academy, an online teaching and transformational platform to grow women and their business.
JEREMY: Why do you see the need for it?
CAROLE: Women in business are ambitious but most also excel at self-criticism, self-inflicted pressure, at doubting their business instinct, which stops them from taking necessary risks to grow, and find it incredibly difficult to take imperfect actions because everything must always be so perfect! Training initiatives or formal education in general for women do not address any of these issues.
They fail to enter the realm of emotional intelligence and mindful business practices, which all true leaders recognise as essential in their work. I am into creating women leaders in their life and jobs, who can confidently operate with wisdom and authority; into growing fabulous women in business not fabulous business women.
JEREMY: What makes it different?
CAROLE: It is about growing women first, then growing business, and providing support to do both, all at once. Small entrepreneurs are their business so you can’t possibly dissociate one from the other if you really want to empower women. You don’t fully empower through education – I know plenty of very knowledgeable people who do nothing with their knowledge. You empower by teaching how to use that knowledge in service to your values and ambitions.
Technically, I can think of 7 main key differences:
– the programme lasts 6 months, which means that we have the time to implement the knowledge. We discuss challenges and solutions in our monthly live Q&A and mentoring session, and daily/weekly on the members’ FB group;
– because it is online, women can access the lessons when ever it is convenient for them – all the learning material is accessible for life and is cutting edge; women contribute to developing the curriculum;
– it is accessible to women all over the world; they don’t have to travel anywhere;
– in the FB group, women support each other emotionally as they face similar challenges and they start doing business with each other;
– women have access to free videos or webinars from other women experts on varied subjects to do with business but also well being – from Instagram, to diets or relationships;
– I am a woman who knows what it means to create a business from scratch with no money, and on her own – that makes me best placed to run and teach this programme from experience and with integrity.
JEREMY:What is your thinking about the potential and challenges for women within tourism?
CAROLE: With regards to the roles of women within the industry, the main issue has to do with the lack of women in leadership who can make decisions that will trickle down positively to women who are being abused, lack job flexibility etc. We need women in strategic roles who care about advancing women holistically to create happier and richer communities. It is about far more than tourism.
We need inspirational leadership from men in key positions to become advocates for women – not only one woman whom they happen to like – all women! And that requires courage. And crucially, we need visibility for women. How can ITB and WTM possibly live with themselves when they make no effort to include women on their panels?
They promote Responsible Tourism and the SDGs but their actions don’t reflect their discourse. I happen to judge people and organisations on their actions. If they really cared, they would commit to 50% women representation – after all, we do represent just over 50% of the world population… There are plenty of fabulous women out there who are as worthy and as inspirational as the male speakers we see holding that space right now.
JEREMY: What are your plans for the academy over the coming year or so? What do you need to make a success of it?
CAROLE: I need two main things… First and foremost, I need clients… so please contact me (email@example.com) if you know someone who would benefit from the course. The Fabulous Tourism Academy is a social enterprise and it must make money. I need to generate enough income to start hiring to grow because I would love to add courses such as The Fabulous Accommodation Owner or The Fabulous Event Manager Projects…
Second, I need to find other women who want to develop and run these courses. The Fabulous Tourism academy is about promoting women to inspire others.
JEREMY – Who would best benefit from your first course The Fabulous Tour Supplier Project?
CAROLE: The programme is for women working as guides or already running a small tour business who want to expand their activities and don’t know how to go about it; women who own a small hotel or guesthouse who understand that creating experiences for their guests will drastically increase their competitive edge; and young and ambitious graduates dreaming of setting up an innovative excursion business but needing to be mentored through the whole process.
JEREMY: Anything else happening?
CAROLE: In August I launched a 3-month mentoring programme for 10 women who have been in business for 5 years, want to take their company to the next level but feel isolated and would love access to other women in the same position. Every week, I hold a 45 minute session targeted at specific issues these women want to solve and my role will be to make them think outside of the box to find solutions that will free them to move forward (e.g. finding the right sales channels for a brand new product/service or managing teams that appear to underperform or changing the company structure to have a better balanced lifestyle). I am a very creative problem-solver and for 2 years trained as an Intuitive and Mindful Coach so I have techniques and processes at hands to help women get unstuck.