Updated: Dec 21, 2022
The Adventure Connection team have been very busy planning, coordinating, running and following up on Familiarisation Trips. During 2022, successful Fam Trips took place in Greece, the Azores, Northern Portugal, Pakistan, Montenegro, Georgia, Jordan and Madeira. In 2023 there are several due to operate, in destinations as diverse as Cuba, the Maldives, Kenya, Rwanda, Brazil and Kyrgyzstan.
But we keep hearing from tour operators that other Fam Trips they’ve travelled on have been poorly planned and communicated, badly organised and often with irrelevant trip elements included.
Tourist Boards, DMCs and Representation companies take note! A badly run and poorly planned Fam Trip can really damage your destination and your company’s reputation.
We don’t claim to be 100% perfect Fam Trip organisers, but we have a very high success rate and feedback score, and we always listen to feedback and make improvements after every trip we operate.
1. Plan your Fam Trip six to nine months ahead
There are a great many reasons why the trip needs to be planned this far ahead. Most importantly, you have a greater chance of getting the tour operators and individuals who you want most on the trip to take part if you give them ample advance notice. Planning ahead also means that you will have more time to work on the partnerships needed to operate the trip (e.g. airlines, tourist boards, accommodation, transport providers and quality guides).
2. Have a clear desired outcome
Choose a measurable objective and make this as specific as possible. For instance, to attract eight reputable tour operators on the trip, with at least 60% featuring your product within six months of the trip returning.
3. Select a variety of niche operators
The UK outbound tourism market is large, very large, with over 15m overseas visits being taken annually. Think of this market like a giant cake and choose the slices that best fit with your destination or activities. Each slice could represent many thousands of future clients who have an interest in culture, wildlife, cycling, trekking, bird-watching, culinary experiences etc. It’s a multi-layered cake - with budget, mid-range and high-end tiers. And of course, there are group operators and tailor-made companies all servicing these niches. Carefully choose your niche, then select the relevant operators and agents you want to travel on the Fam Trip, ideally not directly competing with each other.
4. Target the right people
Having chosen your preferred operators you now need to find the right person within that organisation to target. When a Fam Trip invitation arrives in the inbox of a tour operator it is surprisingly easy for it to be sent to the wrong person, missed or even ignored. Ideally you want a product manager who specialises in your destination, a product director or even an MD to travel. These people have direct purchasing power and the authority to make a decision about the product and the supplier. And, going back to point one above, if you plan well ahead you are much more likely to attract the person you want. Tour operators are offered countless Fam Trips and your destination may not necessarily be top of their list. To grab their attention, create an enticing itinerary and focus on the unique aspects of the trip in your approach. Follow up email invitations with phone calls to make sure you are targeting the right person.
5. Provide experiences, not just hotel inspections
There’s a huge demand for experience-rich travel amongst UK travellers and tour operators will be searching for authentic local experiences and activities to appeal to their customers. Fill your Fam Trip itinerary with these ‘nuggets’! Yes, it is important for the operators to see a handful of accommodation options, but rather than back to back hotel inspections these can be more thoughtfully incorporated into an itinerary, for example as a place for lunch or dinner. You want them to return from the trip having truly experienced the destination and excited about your product offering.
6. Communicate well before & during the trip
Good communication is essential to the success of a Fam Trip. Before the trip, provide a clear and thorough itinerary, including a list of hotels where the group will be staying and visiting. A packing list and final joining instructions will be highly appreciated. While the trip is running, clear communication at the beginning of each day is essential, and later in the day be sure to advise the group of any evening arrangements. Be clear with meeting times and points to prevent participants from arriving late for excursions/departure times and subsequent delays to your well-laid plans.
7. Get to know the participants
During the Fam Trip take time to speak to each participant and really get to know them. It’s a rare opportunity to have prolonged face-to-face time with busy operators so make the most of it! Show interest in their company, their customers, their future plans. The information you gather during these informal chats will be invaluable to the success of your future partnership.
8. Be swift with post trip follow ups
It is essential to follow up very quickly and accurately after the Fam Trip. Within a couple of days of the end of the trip, get in contact with each operator individually. Try to send a unique itinerary to each one, based on what you have learned about their company throughout the trip (see point seven above). Showing you are in tune with their needs will mean a great deal, and will set the ball rolling in a very positive direction. They may even take this sample itinerary and start selling it.
9. Be patient!
Expect endless tweaking and a wide variety of speeds of getting the product to market after the Fam Trip. Some operators will have your product on sale within a couple of months, especially if you have been quick to provide them with relevant product information and costings. Others may have other priorities to deal with (please don't take that personally - they're just busy people!) and will need a regular nudge to progress the partnership.
10. Measure results
After three months and / or six months, measure results versus the objectives you set out at the planning stage. If you achieved what you set out to achieve - congratulations! It’s time to start planning ahead and considering when you’ll offer your next Fam Trip. You might also want to work with The Adventure Connection on a strategy to manage your future growth so that you can deal with all of the extra business generated.
Do you need help operating a successful travel trade Fam Trip? We can help. Please get in touch. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to find details of our recently operated and up-coming Fam Trips.