Travel agents are invited on FAM, or familiarization trips, all the time. These help the agent become familiar with a destination or accommodation but also often involve a lot of welcomed wining and dining.
Here are top tips on making the most of your opportunity:
"The number one mistake agents make on FAM trips is forgetting this is business, they are professionals and they are representing their company," said Sandy Nussbaum Giercyk, owner, Instant Impressions Travel Services in Denville, New Jersey.
"It is not a vacation, a time to overindulge or be inappropriate. Vendors certainly take note, and word does get back to owners."
Be able to Market
"In order to maintain ethics when accepting a FAM trip, travel agents and meeting planners should have a genuine opportunity to market and promote the destination to others rather than just using the opportunity to travel for free," said From Sergio Barros of Quest Travel Adventures in Boston. "There is the real economic cost that the tourist bureaus pay, and it is only appropriate to help spread the word about the highlights of the destinations."
If you can't sell the destination or keep up with the group, don't accept the FAM trip.
"Dress as if you're going to the office, especially on European FAM trips," said Barros. "The casual attire that is accepted in the Caribbean and Mexico isn't as appropriate in Europe."
"Bonding happens at the welcome dinner," said Barros. "Bring enough business cards and give them to each of your hosts at the different hotels and attractions."
"With apps like Evernote, you can snap a picture and attach it to your notes," said Samarah Meil of Amarillo Travel Network in Amarillo, Texas.
"Sometimes seeing products, such as touring resorts in areas like Los Cabo, the resorts quickly can blend together so you have to provide ways to help retain the information you have gotten during the trip."
Say Thank You
"Make certain that you thank your hosts and sales managers for the opportunity to go on the FAM," said Tracy Whipple, owner of Travel On A Dream, LLC in Deforest, Wisconsin. "A thank you note following the trip will go a long way towards a better relationship with the supplier as well as more FAM opportunities in the future."
Do not Solicit Business
"Do not approach the guests to solicit business from them," said Joy Teet, Dream Vacations Franchise Owner and Vacation Specialist with Sunshine Cruise and Travel, in Palm City, Florida. "Do not leave your business cards in public areas for guests to find and do not hold side conversations during a presentation."
It's NOT All About You
"I remember a time in Nicaragua when we were going to hike a volcano," said Dana S. Johnson, Adventure Concierge for Open Leaf Excursions in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
"We drove two hours to get to the base and then a four-hour hike was planned. Two luxury travel agents complained about the heat and the roughness of the trail without even leaving the bus. They opted to stay in the bus for the entire time we were hiking. Upon our return, they complained about how long of a day it was for them. I felt so bad for the operator dealing with these divas."
"FAMs are business trips, not your vacation," said Tammy of Red Parrot Travel & Honeymoons. "Don't get drunk and make a fool of yourself."
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