The Travel Village Group’s chief executive Phil Nuttall says bad behaviour on fam trips has to stop

Several years ago, I spoke at the Clia conference about fams, saying there’s no such thing as a freebie.

I was referring to the privileges afforded to us all in this wonderful industry, and how important it is to listen and learn and share these experiences in a positive light with your customers on your return.

There was, of course, an undertone of realising just how important it is, when being hosted, to be well behaved, well mannered, accommodating to your hosts’ requests and being aware that you are representing your company, the industry and, most importantly, the tour operator’s brand.

Since then, I have had the misfortune of experiencing first-hand and second-hand the unacceptable behaviour of people working within this industry (not limited to travel agents).

Manners cost nothing

As always, it is a minority, but I am not sure enough is being done to make examples of people who show a lack of respect and basic good manners.

I recently sat at a table for lunch being hosted by MSC Cruises where we were offered wine to complement our meals. One agent actually asked to see the bottle then, deeming this not to be suitable, requested the wine menu!

This made me think of Sting’s lyrics…

If “manners maketh man” as someone said

Then he’s the hero of the day

It takes a man to suffer ignorance and smile

Be yourself no matter what they say

It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I couldn’t just sit back and smile. I told the person the dinner was hosted and if the wine wasn’t to their liking then a soft drink was available.

However, this was nothing compared to some of the behaviour I’ve witnessed and heard of in recent times. I am also starting to hear about the hosts being subjected to abuse and nonconformity on fam trips. This is a new level, and totally unacceptable.

Tip of the iceberg

The people who work the longest of hours, spend the most time away from their families, turn up on a Sunday to your travel shows, speak to the public on your behalf and take the most flack on the telephone do not deserve this total lack of respect. It has to stop right now.

Last year, two of my team came back from a hosted river cruise traumatised by the behaviour of some agents. It was a consumer cruise, yet some thought it was OK to take over the facilities and over-indulge while being abusive and rude in the company of paying guests.

Why do some people think it is acceptable to get blind drunk and stay in bed the next morning when they should be at a presentation that someone has taken the time to put together to educate them about the unique selling points of the product they are being hosted on free of charge?

More recently, I heard about an employee of an operator who was subjected to verbal confrontation. No one should feel threatened when hosting fam trips.

Is this is just the tip of the iceberg, or am I being oversensitive in my old age? I’d love to know.

➞ Have you witnessed irresponsible behaviour on a recent fam trip? Email