Familiarisation (FAM) trips tends to provide such a variety of opinions and stir up interest within the events industry. MEaT Director and Founder James Bacon was recently in Madrid at the C&IT International Forum discussing the topic, which proved to be quite a lively panel discussion.
FAM - How it adds value to clients.
Speaking at the International Forum, James explained why he believes FAM trips are a valuable resource to event planners. Especially for those who are based within agencies.
"As an agency you do need to show you have a real insight and knowledge on venues and locations. It's not just from an event planning or management perspective, you need to be able to add value to your clients in all aspects."
"Anyone can Google a location, the top rated hotels or restaurants. But actually being able to discuss in detail our suggestions and why we are proposing those choices because our team know them personally is a huge benefit to our clients."
So knowing venues and suppliers means better rates or working and building relationships with them can mean so much more?
"I think building relationships with your suppliers is essential. It's not just about trying to get that special rate from them. It's about really getting a feel for what they can offer and how that could work with your clients. No venue or client is the same and we believe as a planning and management agency that as much effort should be put into both supplier and client."
"Events can go wrong when you place the wrong client at the wrong venue. Or the last time you saw the venue was 5 years ago. Chances are that venue is now not like you last pictured it. That is why for me I look at each venue and not only think about what event I can put on there, but what client it would suit...or not suit."
But what about those who see or take advantage of the FAM trip to use it as an incentive reward or "Jolly"?
"I personally think responsibility has to come from both parties. We look at each FAM Trip on its own to assess if it is worth us attending. We would all love to go to these beautiful locations, but from a business perspective it's just not practical. Does that location really serve your client base? Have you ever thought about the location or venue before? Is that your market?"
"If you can answer honestly and it's no, it means it will be taking time out of the business that you may not have, on what will then be more of a punt, or jolly than a fact finder."
Can suppliers do more to ensure they get the right people onto their FAM's?
"I certainly think they can do a little bit more. More often than not itineraries are released right at the start of the FAM. Which then gives us no real time to make a call on who to send or not to go at all. We also find that some suppliers simply put too much into the trip or focus or that they offer so much that they focus on areas that really are less beneficial to those attending"
"Personally, I would like more transparency and a better effort made on both sides to enable more productive trips for each party."
But some people will always take advantage, right?
"Of course, but I think by tailoring your FAM it will help to reduce the risk of having people there that will have little interest other than to enjoy the luxuries on offer. By releasing the itinerary earlier, it will allow planners and agencies to at least make the call on who to send or to attend at all. If they then send someone who takes advantage, it's on them as a business."
"You will never be able to have a group 100% engaged across the whole trip. When on a FAM you are presented with endless and amazing food and drink. Added to the wonderful locations it's easy to get a little bit excitable and perhaps not have your best judgement shall we say. It's like that one friend at a party that you know at some stage quite innocently will get a little carried away by it all. But as long as an organiser you factor this in, and it's at a minimum, you just need to accept it."
We would love to hear your views on all things FAM trips. Do you have any horror stories, has a particular trip proved instrumental in the success of an event? What changes would you make to make your next FAM visit more relevant or useful?
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