In the wonderful and exciting world of tourism marketing, various tactics are used to market a destination. One of these is hosting a familiarization tour, otherwise known as a FAM tour or just simply FAMs. Hosting a successful FAM tour is a great tactic for driving sales and increasing motorcoach business in a destination. The purpose of a FAM tour is to invite travel trade professionals to learn first-hand what an area has to offer. Participating tourism professionals may include group tour operators, group tour leaders, tourism partners, and travel agents (travel writers also go on one-off or group FAMs). When a tour professional experiences something first-hand, they become more educated and more excited about the experience. This makes it easier to sell the destination to their own customers.
FAMs engage tourism stakeholders, such as lodging, restaurants and attractions, and give them a chance to meet the FAM participants. There are different types of FAMs you can offer for your destination. Larger FAMs require collaboration with several Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) across multiple counties. Others have just one county or smaller destination where there is only one DMO hosting the FAM. Regardless of the scope and size of a FAM tour, here are 4 tips to ensure its success.
1. Educate everyone involved on how they will benefit from a FAM tour.
This goes for both the stakeholders and the FAM participants.
Stakeholders need to understand that this is a marketing opportunity. As such, stakeholders agree to offer their services and/or products complimentary. They should understand they are not donating goods and services! This is a fantastic marketing opportunity to showcase their business.
FAM participants need to understand that as much fun as FAM tours are, everyone is still working. They are only going to get a sample of products and services. They should not expect to spend a lot of time at one location. There is much to do and see and they are expected to take part in every opportunity offered.
2. Communication is key for a successful familiarization tour.
FAMs typically have a very tight schedule, and good communication ensures a successful tour for everyone. Both stakeholders and participants should be fully versed in how much time they have to spend at each location.
There are also logistical items. All stakeholders should provide contact names, immediate contact numbers, parking instructions, etc. The FAM organizer needs to notify each stakeholder when the group is en route so they can be prepared for the group’s arrival.
Each participant needs the itinerary before the start of the FAM and needs to provide their contact information as well as an emergency contact. As a requirement of participation, they need to share with the DMO host(s) what they do and why they have an interest in participating on the FAM.
3. Treat your FAM guests as VIPs.
Roll out the red carpet! Participants will remember what went wrong before they remember what went right. Travel professionals sell destinations. They want to feel 100% confident their customers will have a great experience. They have relationships to foster and protect. If they are treated well, they will understand and feel confident that their customers will experience the same thing and be willing to put their name and reputation out there to promote your area.
4. Remember to have fun during a FAM tour.
Don’t forget, this is tourism! It’s about having a good time! Even though this is a professional situation, selling a destination is fun and every destination is sellable. People are still people and will relate best and relax more when stress is low. No matter if things go as planned or not, what the group will remember most is if they had an enjoyable experience, and that’s what makes a successful FAM tour.