Responsible Tourism Training

Trainer Insights: Dr. Xavier Font on Professional Development in Responsible Tourism

Dr. Xavier Font shares his thoughts on why training and professional development important are important for the tourism industry, and for responsible tourism.
Dr. Xavier Font
Dr. Xavier Font

School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at University of Surrey

Dr Xavier Font

Our Training Ideas and Insights interview series offers a collection of tips, ideas, advice, and inspirations by and for trainers and training experts.

In this edition, we hear from Dr. Xavier Font, who has worked extensively in both academic and business fields focused on responsible and sustainable tourism development, marketing and communications, and has helped a wide range of stakeholders through consultation, sustainability marketing audits, workshops, and training courses.

Why is training and professional development important for the tourism industry, and for responsible tourism?

Our industry lacks professionalism. Many people find themselves in tourism out of chance or necessity, and they need to understand the importance of continuous professional development. There is a tendency to think that training should be free or paid by tourist boards. If you find a good trainer, the investment repays itself.
Responsible tourism is still in its infancy and too much of the training is too conceptual and repetitive, we need to specialise and develop more specific skills, competence based training that is practical and applicable.
"we need ... more specific skills, competence based training that is practical and applicable" - Dr. Xavier Font

What training methods and approaches do you think work well and what don't?

I prefer action planning training, because you empower the trainees to see the use of what you are suggesting, and as a trainer you also realise when something doesn't make sense or is not applicable.
Equipping people to make informed choices, and placing the emphasis on what they will do out of the training, is far more effective than telling people one-way messages.

What are some common mistakes that trainers make, and what can we learn from them?

We don't stop to find out the impact of our training. I think this is a collective problem with trainers, we measure outputs (number of participants) and possibly outcomes (how satisfied they were with the course) but not the impact (what they have done differently in their jobs and what consequences this has had to their business objectives).
This requires longer term, more planned training that individual trainers aren't normally able to give, and that requires a more sophisticated training platform and methodology.

What online or mobile tools do you find (or would you find, if you had access) useful/not useful?

I haven't yet seen online training tools that are well adapted to the learning needs of the user. Too many of them are portals to upload information but they aren't interactive learning tools. I see what's being developed for language learning and think, why can't we have something like them!