A Fam Trip, also known as a familiarization trip (or a familiarisation trip depending on your dialect) is a way to familiarize or educate travel industry professionals on a given location, tour or facility. The goal of fam trip organizers is to educate travel professionals and enable them to help sell the location to end consumers. Fam Trips are typically organized by tour operators, tourism boards, and facilities management groups. The goal of offering fam trips is the expectation that you as a travel professional will then help promote and sell the tours and hotels that you are inspecting.
What does a typical day on a Fam Trip entail?
At the core of a fam trip is education and the best way for most people to be educated is through hands-on experience. A hotel based fam trip typically involves a charter bus which takes travel professionals from hotel to hotel to meet the sales staff and tour the facilities. You may be able to attend up to 8-10 hotels in a day. You might spend about a half hour at each hotel. Some hotels will provide food samples and/or lunch. Make sure to take pictures and ask a lot of questions (do you do weddings, do your restaurants require reservations, what if my client has allergies?) so that you are well informed the next time a client approaches you to book a vacation. You are expected to act professional on your trip, you are a representative of your travel agency.
Niche Fam Trips
A niche fam trip is one which covers a specific niche of the travel professional industry. For instance, you can go on a wedding fam trip which specifically covers weddings or you can go on a MICE fam trip which covers business meeting options such as convention space. There are wedding fam trips, culinary fam trips, medical fam trips, city tour fam trips and fam trips for basically any type of travel niche that you can imagine so long as there is a tour company or tourism board that is looking to promote it.
Destination promotors and hotel operators will also offer press fam trips for media and travel writers. For the purpose of this blog we mainly deal with travel agent fams but from time to time we will discuss additional types of familiarization trip opportunities.
There are often other types of fam trips such as media fam trips. These fam trips are open to travel writers, bloggers and the social media elite. If you would like to take a media fam trip, make sure to know which KPIs the hotels and tourism boards are looking at. A KPI is a Key Performance Indicator and in the case of a travel writer it can be readers, unique visitors, syndication, or social media followers depending on the reach they would like to have.
How to qualify for a Fam Trip
There are typically two ways to get on a fam trip. The first is paid. Often times tour companies and tourism boards will offer fam trips at deep discounts to travel agents. The reason for offering deep discounts is that they want travel agents to experience the tour and be able to sell it to their customers. Sometimes, the tourism boards or tour companies will offer a refund if you sell enough trips within some time frame after you take the fam trip. Make sure to clarify this with the tour company or tourism board before you pay for the trip. The other way to earn your way on. Many tourism boards and tour companies will offer free trips if you have sent enough customers to their location within a certain time frame. Again make sure to clarify the rules and regulations in advance to make sure you qualify.
How to maximize your time on a Fam Trip
Some travel agents go on Fam Trips to get away. I don’t blame them. If you are looking to maximize your time on a familiarization trip please consider the following.
- Plan. If you just show up to a familiarization trip, you will probably learn alot. If you plan, you can look to find additional information such as amenities near by the hotel. Figure out where your customers can go outside of the hotel (family excursions, business rooms…).
- Bring a camera. A familiarization trip is a great opportunity to build up content and media. Once you get back home you can do website posts and social posts about the properties.
- Bring walking shoes and a fitbit. Some of my biggest step days in the last 5 years have been on fam trips.
- Get business cards. When your customer is in a pinch, it’s really nice to know someone. Get to know staff and it will help you in the future.
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