In the events industry, there is a well-known opportunity designed to help meeting professionals become familiar with a location and all it can provide: a familiarization tour, otherwise known as a FAM. These trips are meant to make the guest want to book future events in the destinations, but if they aren’t executed well, they can have the opposite effect. Here are a few tips from a planner’s perspective on what CVBs should—and shouldn’t—do when hosting a FAM.
Have a valid itinerary, including air and ground transportation details.
If the FAM is following a hosted-buyer conference, make sure airports, hotels and ground transportation companies are clearly communicated. I have arrived at airports with no one to greet me, my name not on a list or the hotel not clearly identified. For first-time FAM travelers, this can be unnerving. I have also had an instance where my departure airport was not specified, which resulted in having to change my flight—at my own expense.
Communicate long itineraries.
If you’ll be transporting guests by van or bus to a location more than an hour away, have beverages available, especially water. Also indicate if traveling on unpaved roads will be part of the trip. I spent an incredibly uncomfortable two hours in a van to a remote destination, and even though the location was extraordinary, the trip there was unbearable.
Show off your destination’s best assets.
Try to plan itineraries involving locals and activities the guests wouldn’t be able to access on their own. Private cooking or local art lessons give meeting professionals a feel for the local culture and will be talked about with future clients.
Help us help others.
Community awareness or service programs are an appreciated part of FAMs. Most guests will be delighted to take part if they are done in a proper manner with an accredited nonprofit. Meeting professionals can then mirror the CSR project during their own meetings.