Familiarisation Trips, better known as Fam Trips, are educational trips organized exclusively for media partners or travel agents and resellers, by travel businesses such as tour operators and accommodation establishments.
Fam Trips are designed to equip participants with adequate product knowledge to either sell onto clients or publish for media coverage. Travel businesses host Fam Trips to showcase their business and product to the people who resell or cover them in media.
Either way, the fundamentals of Fam Trips remain the same, you want to create memorable, fun, and personable experiences for the people who undertake them. They are essentially marketing tools that highlight your travel offering and are one of several ways to generate leads and new business for your travel company.
Who Goes On Fam Trips?
Fam Trips are usually set up either as invitation-only sponsored learning trips or at discounted rates exclusively available for travel agents to book.
Travel agents and resellers go on Fam Trips to experience first hand a travel product or offering. This gives them insight into the finer details of the offering and lets them add a personal touch to their sales pitch.
Travelers are on the lookout for personalized travel experiences and something as simple as a travel agent knowing whether there is a packed breakfast available to take on a day hike excursion without needing to check details with the establishment saves time, conveys efficiency and will attract customers to your travel business.
Fam trips are not only for travel agents or resellers though, media partners also participate in them too. Travel writers or photographers join Fam Trips for media to write up articles and take beautiful images to post and share in their publications.
Tips On How To Run Successful Fam Trips
You want to apply the same basic principles to your Fam Trips regardless of whether you are hosting Media or Suppliers. In both cases, the trips should be experiential and relevant to your product.
Email your suppliers and media partners their proposed itineraries a few weeks in advance so that they know what to expect from the Fam Trips and can raise any questions they may have to prepare for it.
When hosting Fam Trips for Media discuss your expectations for the press coverage before the trips begin so that you are all on the same page. Establish where the write-ups will be published, the length and frequency of the articles, expectations for social media posting etc.
Offer Authentic Experiences
While you do need to pull out the stops and offer the same experiences that full paying guests would get, you do not want to misrepresent your offering by including something not ordinarily part of your repertoire.
Clients will be disappointed if they read about a sundowner experience on the riverbank but discover on arrival at your lodge that it is not in fact on your activities list it.
Create Partnership Offerings
Contact surrounding travel businesses to see if they would be interested in creating partnership offerings to provide to the suppliers and media partners.
Approach restaurants who might be interested in hosting groups for some of their meals. Or contact a bicycle tour operator to ask if they would lead groups on a trail experience.
This will give the other businesses the opportunity to increase their visibility and get mentions in the media and it will help you to spread some of the costs involved in hosting Fam Trip groups.
Offer Alternative Itineraries
Where applicable, showcase a number of your most popular activities to the people on your Fam Trips. Not only will this highlight more aspects of your travel business, but it will also negate the possibility of accidentally excluding someone from partaking in particular activities.
Consider people’s varied interests and add one or two alternatives to your itineraries. The idea is for your suppliers and media partners to make the most of their Fam Trip experience so limiting your educational Fam Trip activity to a snorkeling trip might not work in your favor if you are hosting people who do not enjoy swimming for example.
Set A Manageable Schedule
Remember the people you host on your Fam Trips are working even if it may not always seem like it. With this in mind, remember to allocate a certain amount of downtime on your Fam Trips to allow your travel agents and media partners to check in with the office, organize the information they are putting together on your travel product, or have a quick catch up with the family at home.
Provide All Necessary Information
Your suppliers and media partners are going to need the details of all the accommodations they stay in, restaurants they dine at, and activity providers who guide them on their Fam Trips. As the organizer, you will have easy access to all of this information.
Compile a list of all the names, email addresses, contact numbers and social media handles of your partners onto a database and share it with the people on your trip. This way they will be able to accredit everyone accordingly.
You can include the brochure images and write-ups of your travel product in this informational package too. You might find that your suppliers need to update your product on their site and this will make sure that they have what they need.
Most of this information will likely be required in a digital format, so either email it or make it available to download from a limited access portal.
Make Follow Ups After The Trips
Do not leave it too long after your Fam Trips have finished to follow up with your travel agents and resellers to get their feedback.
See if they have any questions or suggestions for you and check that your media posts are published and all the information is optimized, correct, and up to date.
Keep the communication lines open and find out what worked and what didn’t and learn from each experience and Fam Trip.
Remember that your travel agents, suppliers, and media partners are key players in your business’ success and Fam Trips are a good way to nurture relationships with them. So consider the time and resources you spend hosting Fam Trips and nurturing relationships as an investment in marketing your business and promoting your travel offering.
In an industry where experience is everything, going the extra mile and working together to give clients the best possible service will translate into stellar reviews and glowing recommendations for all parties involved.