8 tips for the perfect FAM | TravelResearchOnline


8 tips for the perfect FAM

Familiarization, or FAM, trips are an important and necessary component of our jobs. We know they are not vacations, and in fact they can take many forms from self-guided to fully orchestrated. Sometimes a FAM trip will pop up in the midst of your vacation–a travel agent’s work is never done.  But, are you getting the most out of your FAM? Let’s talk about how you can get the most out of your FAM trip experience, including tips on managing information, and how to make a good impression on the supplier. Here are 8 tips!

  1. Perhaps the most important tidbit I could ever share: you can never be TOO professional, but you can most definitely be too un-professional. Remember you are representing not only your company, whether self-employed or an agency employee, but you are representing the travel agency community at large.
  2. Everything else stems from that  – the clothes you wear, the manner in which you behave, and what you do in the “off hours.” To start with, many of us receive FAM invitations addressed to the general agent community, but some of us are lucky enough to receive one addressed to us specifically, usually extended by the Business Development Manager. If you receive a personal FAM invitation, respond to the invite, even if it is to decline. When our clients don’t get back to us, it’s frustrating – why would we do the same to others?
  3. Keep in mind your niche and your clients’ focus – if you work primarily with cruise clients, it does not make sense to take an Ireland land tour FAM. Leave the space available for another person who DOES have that focus.
  4. Don’t accept an invite unless you are CERTAIN you can make it. Often, these events are planned for a specific number of people, and it costs the host company money (with no return) to have you cancel your attendance. Yes, emergencies do occur, so if you are unable to make it, try to find a replacement to go in your place. The host will appreciate it!
  5. A FAM trip is not a ‘cheap vacation’ for you! Don’t bring your spouse, your best friend, or your sibling unless the host gives permission. Don’t even think to ask if you can bring a guest – let the host extend the offer as part of the original invitation.
  6. In line with that, most of the time a daily agenda of some type is provided. Expect to follow the agenda to the letter unless the host changes it. It is disrespectful to look at an agenda item and think, “that doesn’t apply to me” or “I have seen this before” and think it is okay to skip it. Your absence WILL be noticed.
  7. Be on time for the day’s activities. It’s extremely rude to make the rest of the party wait on you. On a previous FAM I attended, two agents sharing a hotel room had become fast friends and had gone partying the night before, which is fine. What isn’t fine is they drank way too much, got hung over, and had to be woken up by a telephone call from the host asking if they were coming or not.
  8. Don’t forget: you are there to network with your fellow travel professionals, and to learn about the host and their product. A FAM is a business trip, and should be treated like one. Often, poor behavior or outright un-professionalism can result in you being blacklisted from future FAMs. Also, you risk the reputation of your agency in specific, and the rest of the agent community in general.

What other tips do you have for your fellow travel professionals?

  One thought on “8 tips for the perfect FAM

  1. Geoffrey Millstone says:

    I believe that you are living in a dream land if you think that 50% of agent will follow most of your suggestions. My first fam was with Pan AM and United in 1971 to the Virgin Islands. They agents walked into the hotels took 2 or 3 “rum punches” disappeared to the bathrooms and hid while I toured 20 different room types to learn.
    Time is now May 2014. I went on a Fam to Sandals with Sales rep. It was stated that you will participate or you will be sent home at your expense plus pay for the lodging. Never happened. He was great, the hotel reps were great, but the same damn agents were still there, the drinkers, the skippers, and those who had to brag to the paying customers that we were there free while they paid in full. 1 lady never toured a room “my knees hurt”, she just disappeared. We always found het in the gift shop however, even if it was on the 3rd floor.
    There are many of us out there that are true agents that exist for the thrill of the job, but there are many more of us that bought a membership that gets access to an IATAN card and they could not tel you the difference between a 1 star dump and a 5 star resort as long as they get their free drink.
    Look at the agents that are on Facebook under Travel Agent Fam trips. To 90% they are agents for the Fams, not Travel Agents.
    I follow 100% of your suggestions, but I have been in the business since 1965 and know what a travel agent’s responsibility is on a FAM.

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