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Master of International Tourism and Hospitality Management

No longer confined to the major tourism centres in Australia, businesses are embracing digital technology to service an increasingly agile industry, where trends and influencers are transforming the travel and adventure experience.

Fabienne Wintle was an early digital adopter, using her skills to embrace an evolving sector and identifying opportunities to help bring other tourism operators online through the business she co-founded, Tourism Tribe.

Based in the beachside community of Agnes Water in central Queensland, Fabienne lives the lifestyle and career she wants and is helping others do the same, offering digital solutions through her business’ peer to peer online platform.

“A lot of tourism operators are ‘mum and dad operators’, who bought their business for a sea change,” Fabienne says.

“Our training helps them succeed, giving them educational tools and information on anything from automation to digital literacy and media profiles.

“We offer more than social media and websites; our training gives clients the tools and knowledge to run a tourism business in the 21st century.”

The Tourism Tribe platform offers its 1600 members the freedom to access online industry training and resources from anywhere in the world.

“Our clients have access to high-quality resources available to them from the comfort of their own lounge room, allowing anyone in the industry to make a living in tourism regardless of location,” she says.

Building her own career on the same basis, Fabienne gets technology to work for her, operating her business and the daily demands that come with it, while working remotely and managing a small team.

“Our business doesn’t have an office, my team can work wherever they want, they can be on a beach or a boat,” she says.

“I find people working in different environments come up with different ideas, and there is nothing I love more than when my team comes up with ideas that are better than mine.”

Fabienne’s passion for technology and tourism first started growing up on the slopes of a Swiss ski field.

Her family were the first people to install dial up internet in their home, sparking a young Fabienne’s interest in IT and later a Master of International Tourism and Hospitality Management at Griffith University.

“My first degree was in IT in Switzerland and was very theoretical, there were a lot of 0s and 1s,” she says.

“I found Griffith encouraged collaboration and for students to come up with new ideas.

“It gave me an understanding of how tourism worked in Queensland and provided a more practical experience.

“It was really important and pointed me in the right direction.”

After completing her masters, Fabienne landed a job at Gold Coast Tourism but quickly saw an opportunity to start her own business advising tourist operators on marketing and web strategies.

“Tourism operators had online capabilities, but they were not getting picked up by Google, a lot of sites were not search engine optimised,” she says.

Fifteen years later, Fabienne is still doing what she loves – advising and training tourist operators on how to digitally enhance their business and innovate.

“Online hasn’t been death of the industry, people want personal contact and experiences. You cannot stop but you can sell your destination,” she says.

“Tourist operators are selling more than a room, they are advocates for their region.”

Fabienne says she encourages her clients to become change junkies to help them achieve a better business.

“Entrepreneurs are the future of the industry, don’t be scared to go out on your own.”

For more on Fabienne’s story, watch her panel discussion on Contemporary Entrepreneurs: Perceptions and Reality, a Griffith University Alumni event held in Brisbane earlier this year.

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