FAM Trips: A Travel Consultant’s Guide

Travel agent familiarisation, or FAM trips as they are more commonly known, are an essential part of a Travel Consultant’s life. These trips provide vital information about a destination, accommodation options and experiences in the area – essential for a Travel Consultant to make a compelling sales pitch.

Most travel companies in Sri Lanka organise 2 – 3 big FAM trips annually for their sales staff (depending on the size of the company) and several smaller trips for their team handling supplier relations and inspections. The purpose of these trips is to introduce Travel Consultants to new hotels so that they have more options to offer clients, update their knowledge about a specific location, an existing property and experiences/activities available in the area.

Here are the Top 7 things to look out for when you’re planning your next FAM trip.

Define your clientele

Most travel companies cater to a range of clients from low, mid to high-end. It’s important to remember that the requirements of each group differs from the other but they have two things in common – cleanliness and value-for-money. So ensure to define your clientele and their needs when you’re planning for your next FAM trip. A high-end client might require an aesthetically pleasing room with a nespresso machine, linen with a specific threat count and the services of a butler. Whereas the mid-range guest would want a TV, mini-fridge and attentive service. Understanding the different needs of each client will help you streamline your hotel options and categorise them accordingly.

Make a checklist

Making a checklist for a FAM trip is extremely important. With many hotels trying to offer everything under the sun, it’s the Travel Consultant’s job to ensure that these are functioning and are suitable to your client. Hotels and villas operate very differently so you might want to make a separate checklist for villas. See below for an example checklist.

FAM trip checklist travel agentBe prepared with logistics

Plan your route and factor in travel times well in advance. Because travelling on winding roads or during traffic is going to take significantly longer than google maps say. Due to this reason try not to exceed more than 4-5 hotel inspections per day at most. If there are larger hotels on the list keep it to a minimum of 4. It is important that you’re able to distinguish these hotels and their unique selling points long after the trip so don’t exhaust your brain by overloading information. This will be your first interaction with many hoteliers and General Managers so ensure that you are punctual.

Learn as much as you can

Remember that most hoteliers have been waiting for months for you to visit their hotel and are keen to show off every aspect of their property. Therefore, try your best to accommodate their requests as much as possible because you will have to depend on their corporation in the future.

Get to know the team

Hotel staff can make or break a holiday. So make sure to interact with the staff during a FAM trip even if it’s just a greeting. Do they seem pleasant and helpful? Most hotels tend to serve a welcome drink during an inspection visit so take this opportunity to observe how you are presented with the drink. You may organise the best trip for your client but if they are staying at a hotel where the staff are under trained or not ‘hospitable’ it will affect the entire holiday.

Keep connected

Build in 2-3 hours every day during a FAM trip to catch up on emails to stay top of your workload. However ensure that there’s time for a fun activity as a group. Use this chance to organise a few activities that will give your team the opportunity to connect and bond.

See outside the hotel

Include places of interest, activities and experiences in FAM trips as this will help break the monotony of visiting one hotel after another. With more travellers leaning towards spending more money on experiences, it is crucial that travel companies invest in educating their staff on up-to-date experiences that will interest and engage visitors. So slot in space to explore Dambadeniya, take a tour around a cinnamon plantation or sit for mask painting lesson.

Remember that as a Travel Consultant, you are the eyes and ears for your client and that they value your perspective and opinion. Understanding a client’s likes and dislikes and catering to it will sharpen your insight as well as you make an excellent at what you do.

Hospitality Insider Issue 4