Most people outside the travel industry think we live a glamorous, jet-setting lifestyle. Acquaintances are constantly asking where am I headed next and can they come with me. As we all know, it’s not nearly as glamorous as people think. In reality I’m struggling to juggle the many conferences, FAM’s and workshops on my calendar; not to mention, caring for my clients while I’m also traveling. “How do I pick the right FAM or conference?” is a question I hear over and over from colleagues. “I can’t afford to go on all these FAM’s,” is another common complaint, and I can understand why. These events are not free (as some people would like to believe). After my return home and adding up my expenses, all I can think is, “was this worth $1,700?” What did I learn? Could I have used this money in a different way? What is my ROI?
So far I’ve attended a few conferences and workshops; the first trade show I attended was chock full of suppliers, classes and events. I had high expectations and came away incredibly disappointed. From attendees that looked like they were headed to the pool after the session was over to suppliers and speakers who droned on without handouts, outlines, or even a PowerPoint. I can go on and on about these shows but I don’t need to, I’m sure you have seen your fair share. What about familiarization trips? Well, I won’t go there, I’ll just say the best FAM I’ve done was one I did independently with the help of a supplier. I visited 12 resorts in 2 days, my feet were not happy but I came away with much more than a scheduled FAM.
As a result of the inconsistencies I’ve decided to pick and choose my events very carefully. I recently attended a travel workshop that had nothing to do with suppliers and everything to do with mindset, basic business skills, and the future of my business. For the first time in my very short travel industry experience I came away thinking, “that was worth every penny!” As a result, I’ve decided those are the types of events I will attend. I’ve recently fine-tuned my niche to “romance travel to exotic beach destinations,” these destinations are mostly islands in the Indian Ocean and surrounding Asia. I would love to attend every FAM that comes my way; after all, I love travelling and exploring. I had to make a business decision and limit my FAM’s to the areas and products I am selling. As much as I love Paris, there aren’t too many exotic beaches, so I will save that for my vacation. This year I have 2 FAMs in my budget. I completed one to the Seychelles. And later this year I am heading to the Maldives. Focus!
How about you? How many FAM’s and conferences do you attend in a year? Are they worth it? How do you decide which ones to attend? Do you only attend those that focus on your niche?
Brenda Llamas Young is the owner of Encore Romance Travel which specializes in weddings and honeymoons to exotic beaches to include the South Pacific, Asia, Australia, Indian and African Coast. Brenda entered the travel industry in 2009 and after two years of education, opened her own home based agency.