Comment: Fam trips can be a win-win for both trade and consumer

Educationals have plenty of benefits for all involved, says Haslemere Travel and Aito’s Gemma Antrobus

Having just returned from a fabulous fam trip to Corfu, visiting the Elounda Beach Hotel with Aito operator Lusso, I was reminded just how valuable such visits are for today’s travel designer.

Fam trips, whether organised by a tour operator, tourist board or hotel, are a crucial component of any agent’s arsenal. Such personal experiences allow us to sell holidays accurately to our clients, having seen what the hotel, or destination, offers. There is simply nothing like recommendations and detailed insights obtained first-hand.

More: Comment: Fam trips should be the start of a long-term commitment

Comment: Fam trips are invaluable but ROI is vital for all involved

Comment: Fam trips are an investment in knowledge, not frivolous jollies

Hotel visits – to experience their amenities, services and overall atmosphere – allow you to make informed recommendations to clients; they will then book a hotel or destination that best fits their personal preferences.

Familiarisation trips also enable us to enhance our overall knowledge and expertise. Immersion in different hotel environments – experiencing a wide variety of accommodation options – allows us not only to broaden our horizons but also to expand our understanding of the diverse range of hotel options available. This helps us to tailor our recommendations to match the specific preferences/needs of each client, leading to greater customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Knowing that you have matched a destination and hotel perfectly to your client’s requirements, and seeing their belief and trust in you at an all-time high, delivers a great buzz!

Building bonds

One element of fam trips often overlooked is the networking and knowledge-sharing among agents (and their hosts) when travelling together. I’ve had countless invaluable conversations about business growth, marketing ideas, HR issues and more.
Additionally, the bond built with your host – be it a tour operator, a tourist board or a hotel – is often undervalued.

Building relationships and sharing knowledge, in turn improving revenue across both companies, while ensuring increased client delight, is a wonderful win-win.

To the outside world, fam trips might be seen as jollies – and some, of course, are more relaxing than others. But, in most cases, the days are long, and the amount of product knowledge absorbed daily is vastly greater than that gained during a day at the office. There may well be reports to write for colleague training purposes, and social media to keep on top of, as well as communications with clients if you are not fortunate enough to have a colleague able to handle this for you.

Investing in knowledge

At Haslemere Travel, fam trips are part of our ongoing training and development programme for team members. We are fortunate to be offered a variety of trips by our trusted independent suppliers, and welcome the opportunity to send our travel designers away during company time. Such trips are a wonderful investment, and they are also a reward for hard‑working team members.

We don’t rely solely on fam trips being offered to us. If there’s a destination about which we feel we are lacking in knowledge, or a hotel on which we need a refreshed perspective, then we will organise such visits ourselves. Knowledge is power, and sometimes this means a little investment on the part of the agent too. If you haven’t been offered a hosted fam trip recently, why not reach out to your closest tour operator partners, or hotels, to see if they can help you organise an independent fam trip – or perhaps get a few agents together and take a small group?

Hotel and destination fam trips provide travel designers with a competitive edge. By staying informed about the latest hotel trends and offerings, and by establishing strong relationships with hotel and tour operator staff /management, agents can position themselves as trusted experts. This can help you to attract more clients and to secure more bookings, ultimately leading to increased success and profitability for your business.

I appreciate that fam trips come at a considerable cost for the hosts, including the significant time taken to organise them; I am hugely grateful. I truly hope that our partners continue to see the value in hosting such trips and, indeed, increase their frequency.

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