Fam trips are one of the best ways for travel advisors to become more proficient in the field of travel. Fam trips, or familiarization trips, can be excellent opportunities for those who plan travel for others to get to know what various cruise, hotel, spa and flight experiences are like so they can make more educated recommendations to travelers.
Far from a ‘free vacation,’’ fam trips are a lot of work, often involving long days and little free time. However, as our seasoned travel advisors understand, there’s simply no substitute for firsthand experience when it comes to travel planning. We send our travel advisors on fam trips so they gain the experience to make yours amazing.
Here’s what a few of our advisors have to say about what fam trips are and how they help them plan amazing vacations for others.
Fam Trips: How They Help Travel Advisors Plan Amazing Vacations
When travel advisors go on fam trips, they usually inspect every aspect of the experience so they can explain it to potential travelers and make recommendations based on the needs and interests of each person they help.
We asked two of our top travel advisors, Abby Bebout and Jenny Gilbertson, what they like about fam trips and what makes them worth the investment.
“Fam trips allow advisors to experience what the client experiences when they travel,” says Bebout. “You tour properties to learn the ins and outs and sometimes even the behind-the-scenes, but you also experience the same food, service and amenities that a client would experience when traveling to that destination.”
Gilbertson adds that fam trips can help advisors improve the service they offer travelers. “Firsthand experience is the best way to learn the geography/location of the destination. After visiting a destination, it’s much easier to make satisfying recommendations.”
Cruise and resort fam trips are some of the best to take at improving the recommendations travel advisors can make because they allow advisors to experience the intricacies of those types of travel.
“Cruise and resort fams allow us to make a recommendation of what to do, where to go and how best to experience a specific ship or resort,” says Bebout. “Everything from being able to make a recommendation on what to order at the restaurants to who the best bartender is, or where to sit at the show for the best view are things that we experience during fam trips and can give feedback on first-hand.”
Gilbertson agrees, adding that seminars at sea provide an abundance of information on the cruising experience that can’t be gained any other way. “We usually tour the entire vessel as well as receive shore excursion information (and enjoy them like the travelers we help would), marketing ideas and the most current updates of the cruise line.”
What to Look for in a Fam Trip
Once travel advisors see the value in a fam trip, the next question becomes which fam trip to take. Our advisors say a good place to start is with places or experiences travelers are likely to desire or inquire about.
“I like to experience fam trips based on what I sell and what is going to be beneficial to my clients,” says Bebout. “I would love to take every trip offered, but am I selling that destination or product? True experts are selective in what they choose to do and qualify trips based on experiences that will benefit those for whom they help plan vacations.”
Gilbertson adds that small group fam trips or trips to places an advisor would not personally go can be beneficial.
“I always look for a fam trip where I’ll experience what my clients look forward to. My idea of a fam trip is definitely NOT seeing ten properties in a day; visiting one to two with ‘experiences’ is what it’s all about,” she says. “Some of the most memorable fam trips I’ve experienced were an Azamara cruise from Barcelona to Roma and a visit to the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica.”
Travel advisors can maximize the value of fam trips by paying careful attention to specific things. “Take note of what’s included in the price, what transportation is provided and unique experiences you can share with clients upon return,” says Gilbertson.
Bebout adds that being careful to evaluate everything will help advisors gain the most value from fam trips. “Keep track of what the flights were like and how the arrival process could have been easier. I can take a picture, but it’s likely the same picture that you can find online. What you can’t get from the website is how the service was at the resort. Another important thing to look at is room locations. What is the view like? Is there privacy? How close is the room next door? These are notes that a good advisor is taking to be sure they have all the information to pass along to colleagues and clients alike.”
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