Fam trips (i.e. familiarization trips, destination showcases) offer tremendous benefits for event planners, resorts, hotels and event venues. I've been on a number of fam trips and I have just returned from one. Based on these experiences, here are some ideas for building the perfect fam trip.
- Include event planners from a range of organizations (e.g. internal and third party from both large and small firms).
- If possible, balance the number of men and women and include activities that appeal to both sexes. This is important because client groups will be mixed.
- Don't include direct competitors on the same fam trip.
- Bring participants in during the afternoon of the first day so that they have a chance to relax before the welcome reception and opening dinner.
- Don't over-pack the agenda. The law of diminishing returns kicks in if participants become too pooped to take it all in.
- Balance the itinerary. Include large and small properties to give event planners options for various clients.
- Highlight the local culture. Showcase local cuisine through your menus, dress of guides and drivers and activities. Include a cooking event, music workshop or a heritage museum tour.
- Maximize meal times. Start the day with breakfast at the location of your first site inspection. This will maximize the amount of time event planners spend at the venue and make it possible to fit in a second site inspection in the morning without exhausting the group. Serve lunch at the location of the first site inspection of the afternoon. Arrange dinner service at one of the venues on the site inspection list. It's perfectly acceptable to include a brief site inspection after receptions and before dinner.
- Upon arrival at each venue provide hot or cold service and offer a glass of water or juice. Even during the winter, guests may feel hot, sweaty and thirsty.
- Remember to build in time for bio breaks before leaving each venue.
- Give participants at least 2 hours of downtime before dinner. Rested participants will be more receptive participants. Participants need time to pick up emails and attend to business.
- Before they disperse, ensure that participants know when and where they are to meet next.
- Get participants to re-assemble 10 - 15 minutes before your scheduled departure time.
- Give participants a chance to really experience the destination. Include visits to local attractions and activities other than site inspections on the agenda (e.g. desert safari, dinner cruise, campfire, concert, festival).
- Give participants daily reflection time to process what they have seen and experienced and begin to think about which clients may be a food fit for the various venues. (30 minutes before receptions or dinners may be an ideal time.)
- Consider bringing in a professional facilitator to kick things off on the first day and guide participants through daily reflection and brainstorming time.
- End early each day early so that attendees can get a good night's rest and start the next day fully refreshed.
- Build physically demanding activities into the agenda on the second day when participants are still fresh (e.g. horse riding, ziplining, rafting or even a golf clinic that beginners will find demanding).
- Consider building educational content into a fam (e.g. a short opening keynote, presentation over dessert at lunch one day, or a mini-workshop to help planners brush up on their sales, marketing or promotional skills to promote the destination more effectively).
- Ensure that final day activities are not physically demanding as participants will be tired. (Suggestions: mini-spa, yoga on the beach, gondola ride with photo opportunity, visit to a beach or waterpark, pontoon boat ride).
Also consult FAM Trip Etiquette on the Cvent Event Blog.
Photo Credits: Corporate Event Planning, Executive Oasis International