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  • Héctor A. Venegas

5 steps to better FAM trips

A FAM trip is a form of event, which is quite important and very common within the decision-making process for meeting planners and meeting designers.

FAM trip is the short form for familiarization trip and describes a group travel organized by local Convention Bureaus (CVB) or hotels and realized by Destination Management Companies (DMC).

The target group are agency planners, corporate planners and association planners. Members of these groups are invited to see and experience a destination, hotels and venues to get familiar with the offering at that specific destination.

FAM trips are usually fully hosted programs and for that reason can collide with compliance issues of some companies.

Another reason for a FAM trip is one of the most important foundations of business life in the MICE industry: the networking! We do business with the people we know and trust.

Getting to know, understand and experience a destination, hotel or venue is crucial for our future planning and design.

For that reason, the stakes are high, when organizing a FAM trip.

If we, as planner, have a good experience, we can offer this to our clients.

If we don't, we won’t!

The pressure is on the organizers. Considering that it is not the easiest task, organizing and planning an event for event planners, there are some that do it really well and others who fail dramatically.

These are some points FAM trip planners have to consider:

First and foremost, they have to respect the time the participants spend at this event. This includes offering a real good experience without demanding too much from them. There are usually so many nice and interesting venues, hotels and sights to see at any given destination. If this ends in schedule overload, running from one place to another to see them all, the participants will not have a good experience. There has to be a good balance between information input and time for digesting the information. Some FAM trip agendas hardly offer some time to breathe in-between or even a toilet break.

Think of the moments the future buyers have to spend doing calls or emails, having conversations, creating relations, reading a book or just enjoying some time on their own.

Second. Spend the time travelling wisely! When travelling in a bus, train or airplane between different sights, give the participants some tasks, related to the destination or supporting the networking. The travelling time can be quite long and has the potential to be considered as annoying. So, keep it short or make it feel short. Use gamification or facilitated networking methods. And always, always (!!) offer water to drink and the possibility to have toilet breaks!

Third. Create a sense for your participants. Hear them, feel them, listen to the conversations. Only then you can see if you are offering the right things for this specific group. Be flexible and change the agenda, if you see a need for more or less information about something. Don't stick to the plan, if you realize it’s not working!!

For this, you have to be able to actively listen to the participants. You have to have people with good networking skills and active listening skills among the group. Be an active part of it.

Fourth. Design this event like any other. You have to know the expectations and the status quo of the knowledge of your participants and future buyers to be able to offer a good tailor-made program. To be informed, ask questions. Involve the participants even before attending. Work on this information and the objectives of this specific event. Everything has to be in line with the objectives. If you can’t do it yourself, ask an experiences Meeting Designer to the program.

Fifth. Create an atmosphere of trust. In the end we all want to do business. This will only happen, if the foundation is laid out where we can build upon. If the FAM trip is a success and the participants trust in the information given to them and in the organizing partners, they will buy! We choose the places we had a good experience at and consult our clients accordingly. If we do not trust and our experience is minor, we will not buy! It’s that simple.

If a FAM trip is designed according to these steps, the investment made will be returned in business. Quite obviously the FAM trip organizer and their sponsoring partners have investments. But please do also consider, that the participants are investing their time and money to see and experience this destination. Respect both investments.

Try it! You will see how it works!

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