Every meeting planner, whether an association, corporate or independent, is offered a Familiarization (FAM) sometime during the course of his or her career. There are many advantages to participating in a FAM trip, but destination organizations and venues need to be aware of some of the challenges and obstacles planners face when considering going on one. The first question you might have is:
What is a Familiarization (FAM) Trip?
A FAM is usually a low-cost or no-cost tour offered by a destination marketing organization (DMO) or venue to a group of planners to familiarize them with a destination, its attractions and meeting venues.
FAM Trip Highs
All the logistics, costs and invites are coordinated by the DMO or venue.
The good news is all a planner has to do is drive or fly into the destination, board a bus and be a sponge about the area.
There is very little cost to the planner.
Assuming the planner meets the destination’s guidelines, usually the airfare, ground transportation and hotel room are picked up by the DMO or venue.
The planner gets to view the destination from the attendee’s perspective.
When an event is in full force, a planner has very little time to do anything other than manage the event — working with speakers, sponsors, hotel staff and sometimes the media. A FAM allows the opportunity to see the location in a relaxed environment while providing the opportunity for in-depth conversations with venue experts.
FAM Trip Lows
With a packed agenda, sometimes venues and attractions are skipped or skimmed.
I have been on FAM trips where the group is running two to three hours behind, leaving the venues at the end of the trip scrambling to readjust their tours. Besides being unfair to the later-in-the-day venues, it gives limited one-on-one time between the planner and the group sales coordinator.
There can be some abuse by a small percentage of planners.
It is very important that the DMO or venue thoroughly vet the potential attendees to ensure they are not just going along for the ride. This can be achieved by asking potential planners to fill out a questionnaire and personally talking to them before extending an invite.
FAMS are competing against time, videos and peer reviews.
Although there is nothing like being on-site, many planners must justify a visit to their management team. Securing time away from the office can be an obstacle, as well as the argument that a site visit can be handled through a series of videos and photographs.
Planners Prepare: Typical Qualifying Questions You Might Be Asked
Here are the types of questions you might be asked before a DMO or venue schedules a destination visit with you:
- When do most of your meetings take place — on weekdays or weekends?
- How many days are most of your meetings?
- What type(s) of meetings do you plan?
- Approximately how many attendees come to your meetings?
- Do you have a trade show component? If yes, how many exhibitors?
- What is your average meeting budget?
- What is the most important element of your meeting (e.g., meeting space, free parking, accessibility)?
- When would you like to visit this area and our venue?
How Kalahari Can Help
Whether it is to schedule a FAM trip or speak to one of our seasoned sales professionals, please contact Kalahari Resorts and Conferences at 855.411.4605 today!