Spend enough time planning travel for your bank, university or chamber of commerce group and sooner or later you’ll be invited on a familiarization tour.
These trips, called FAMs in industry jargon, are free or mostly free trips offered by destinations or tour operators to help you learn about their products, with the hope that you will return with a group.
FAMs are a great way to broaden your travel horizons and get new destination ideas. They can also be fast-paced affairs with long days and a lot of time on the road. In order to best maximize the return you get on your time and effort, keep these best practices in mind when you attend FAM trips.
Bring an Open Mind
FAM tours are designed to expose you to new travel ideas, so if your mind isn’t open to new things, you’re likely to find the trip unproductive. New destinations will often have experiences, attractions and challenges that your travelers haven’t encountered in other places. Don’t write off opportunities just because they are unfamiliar to you or your group. Instead, embrace new experiences and leverage your new firsthand knowledge to convince reluctant travelers to expand their horizons as well.
Leave Space in Your Suitcase
When you go on a FAM tour, you’re likely to meet a lot of representatives from hotels, attractions, destinations and other tourism organizations who are helping the hosts put on the tour. Often, they will have information packets, brochures, small gifts and other items for you. If you haven’t allowed enough extra room in your suitcase or carry-on for these items, you’ll have to leave them behind and miss out on the benefit of information gathering.
Document Your Journey
Since your hosts will want to show you as much as they can in a short amount of time, FAM trips are always busier than regular tours. Because of this fast pace, you can’t count on your memory alone to keep track of important details and interesting facts. To make the most of your experience, take notes as you go, jotting down any important information, prices, contacts, etc. And don’t forget to take photos and videos as well, which could entice travelers at home to come to the destination on one of your trips.
Engage and Ask Questions
Nobody knows the needs, interests and priorities of your travel group better than you do. Hosts, guides and salespeople can provide general information about their destinations and products during a FAM, but you can maximize your trip by asking follow-up questions and digging for details that might be especially important for your travelers. Sometimes, your questions might even give travel providers interesting ideas they would not have considered by themselves.
Work Hard and Be Professional
In the travel business, the line between work and play can be fuzzy. And while you’re likely to do a lot of fun things as part of FAM tours, it’s important to remember that these trips are not vacations. You are there to do business, and since your hosts have gone through a lot of time and expense to put the trip on for you, it’s important to be professional, punctual and attentive, even when the days are long. In the end, a positive attitude and earnest energy will help you make the trip worthwhile.