This blueprint helps you cover all the bases before your next big event.
As much as the direct selling industry is in a state of change, some things are truly timeless. The importance of gathering in person is an integral part of the culture of practically every company in the channel. Making sure your event—whether it is an exotic incentive trip, regional conference or global convention—runs smoothly and creates indelible memories should be a top priority.
Once your company decides to launch your next event, a site visit can be a very helpful next step in the event planning process. A site visit not only allows you to choose the best location for the trip but also to find the right hotel to meet the demographic needs of your attendees.
Timing and Value
Depending on the timing of your event, this process can be done in one visit. Quite often in the direct sales industry, companies will decide on a location and hotel before even visiting—which is fine as long as you are working with an experienced incentive travel and event company that has actually been there and understands the wants and needs of your company and can help you navigate the inevitable bumps in the road you will encounter. If you are planning to go for a follow-up visit after the hotel contract is signed, make sure you include as least three free nights in the negotiation for that final site visit.
Four Important “Do”s for Your Site Visit
1/ Spend at least one night in each of your top choice hotels.
You will get a much better feel for the overall hotel experience as a guest than you would on a daytime walk through.
2/ Do a detailed walk through.
Include each potential event venue, your meeting agenda and on-site activities. This is the perfect time to run a test trial of your event.
3/ Look into off-site venues for an exclusive VIP dinner.
The right location is key for a successful VIP dinner, so spend time checking out several options, testing their menus, listening to musicians and meeting with the decor team.
4/ Trial the entire incentive trip from start to finish.
If golf is important for this trip, test out the transfer to the course, the greeting, club rentals and cart setup. If you are planning a dine-around, test the food quality and service at each of the restaurants. The more partners and vendors you are able to meet while in town, the better you are in the long run. A thorough site visit to trial an upcoming event can take 3-4 days to narrow down what feels right for your group. You’ll know it when you experience it—trust your gut!
Limit the Surprises
The value and prestige of incentive trips can’t be underestimated—your distributors work hard to earn it and understandably have high expectations for a one-of-a-kind experience. One of the most important things about planning and executing a successful incentive trip is mitigating potential surprises. A detailed and thorough site visit is your best bet to crafting a memorable event for you and for your distributors. Be fully prepared by walking through the entire trip to know where problems could arise and put a plan in place to solve them.
What is a FAM Trip?
A FAM trip stands for “familiarization trip” and is a benefit of being in the direct sales industry. FAMs are sponsored by travel suppliers, hotels, cruise lines, resorts, third-party travel companies and tourism boards. FAM trips are exclusive experiential trips for direct sales executives, incentive travel, conference or conventions decision makers, directors of events, event personnel and third-party travel companies.
Familiarization Trips are the best way to confidently determine the optimal location for your big event—nothing compares to actually experiencing the destination and resorts firsthand. Essentially a FAM trip takes you backstage to experience a location in hopes you return with your company travel incentive, conference or convention. A personal experience is better than any review you could ever read. Experience it, then book it.
Travel Like A Pro: The “Do”s and “Don’t”s of FAM Trips
Have a good time but remember what you’re there for.
Know as much as possible about the location and hotel products ahead of time. That way, it will make more sense and mean more when you experience it. Plus, you’ll be able to get additional information that could be valuable to you or your future event.
Arrive a few minutes early.
Punctuality is important so no other FAM attendees are waiting for you. In your room, requests or complaints about air conditioning, plumbing, etc., should be directed to the appropriate personnel in a diplomatic way, respecting the partnership between you and FAM sponsors.
Use good sense with the people you meet.
You can tell people that you’re a part of the travel industry—but don’t let other guests know that you’re on a FAM trip. Be sociable but always use discretion.
Engage in the kind of travel experience that your attendees will experience.
Get an education but think from the standpoint of your potential event attendees.
Take the time to say “thank you.”
Everyone appreciates gratitude when they’ve gone out of their way. Rarely will things be 100 percent to your liking, but it has still been a new travel experience for you. Remember to acknowledge the vendor’s generosity through a verbal “thank you” to staff and crew who have served you well. Don’t forget to thank your housekeeping staff with tips.
Philip Cochrane has been in the direct selling industry for over 20 years and is the Co-Founder and President of iCentiviz. iCentiviz delivers over 100 years of combined industry experiences with a deep-rooted passion in assisting and supporting direct selling companies’ growth through their travel incentives, conferences and conventions.