FAM Trip: A Hoteliers Guide

Having conducted travel agent familiarisation (FAM) trips in Sri Lanka for four years, I know a thing or two about what makes a hotel stand out.

FAM trips are a great opportunity to market your hotel, but if you are unprepared or showcase a property in a poor state, you may find yourself on the unofficial ‘do not recommend’ list.

Follow these seven tips for hoteliers and be confident that your hotel will make a positive lasting impression.

1.    Cleanliness

This is the most basic thing, but I can’t count the number of times I have visited hotels which had dirty walls or worse, discoloured linen. This is almost ALWAYS the first thing a travel agent will notice. Their trained eyes are meant to pick on the little things because that’s part of their job of ensuring that their clients receive the best. Hotel visits and inspections are always scheduled ahead of time, so if you plan to entertain agents, make sure that your hotel is in order. That means your hotel needs to be of the standard to welcome guests, irrespective of whether they are paying clients or travel agents.

2.    Prepare your staff

They need to be in clean uniforms and ready to engage with guests. Your hotel might have the best of amenities but if your staff don’t match up to those standards, you are unlikely to be welcoming the agent’s guests any time soon. Motivate your staff to brush up on their language skills. Attentiveness and attention to detail also play a vital role in service.

3.    Know your product

As a manager of a hotel, it’s your responsibility to know everything about the property, its history and the location. You need to be prepared to answer any question asked by a travel agent. This includes information about the nearest hospital and evacuation plans set in place. Answers like “I don’t know” or “I’m new to the property” will be looked down upon as they show your lack of preparedness.

4.    Ensure everything is in working order

While this is harder to maintain for larger hotels, for small properties there really is no excuse. If you’re ready to welcome travel agents on inspection visits, regardless of if they are local or foreign, your hotel is ready to host guests. Unless there’s an unplanned breakdown, air-conditioning units, lights and fixtures all need to be operational. This also means no creaking doors, wobbly tables or slow-draining showers (simply the worst!).

5.    Share a fact sheet with USPs and important info

All hotels have marketing collateral but how can you ensure yours is different? Stunning images are valuable but won’t make a travel agent pick your hotel over your equally-stunning neighbour. Instead curate a list of USPs, amenities and services that will be useful to sell your product. Is your hotel close to a cultural site? Does it have an interesting story or offer a unique experience? That’s what you need to highlight on your fact sheet designed for travel agents. Superfluous words and an image of a model picking tea may charm your guests, but will have zero impact on a travel agent.

A vegetarian dish is not a salad with lettuce, tomatoes and egg, neither is it fried rice with chilli paste.

6.    Pay attention to your food

There have been numerous times when well-established hotels have failed to provide satisfactory vegetarian options. A vegetarian dish is not a salad with lettuce, tomatoes and egg, neither is it fried rice with chilli paste. If your hotel cannot offer a good dish with interesting vegetarian ingredients, you need to re-examine your menu. Travellers are increasingly particular about their food preferences and hotels can no longer get away serving a dull plate of carbs or greens as vegetarian or vegan. It’s important that your kitchen is able to keep up with the growing demand for dietary preferences.

7.    Promote your location

Accommodation options are underpinned by what the surrounding area has to offer. Unless your hotel has received individual global recognition, its location is a key deciding factor for most tours. If you want a travel agent to think of your establishment the next time they receive an enquiry, give something them to remember you by. Marketing your location coupled with an interesting property or personal story will have a lasting impression on agents, as well as guests.

 

Want more? Read our guide for travel agents on getting the most our of your FAM trip here.

Hospitality Insider Issue 4