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Fam trips

#EventPlannersTalk Live: Hosted Buyer Programmes and Fam Trips – challenges and solutions

hosted buyer programmes fam trips 2

Hosted Buyer Programmes and Fam Trips are well established in the events industry. Nearly every event professional has encounter them in one form or another. With not just technology changing at a fast pace in the industry the question is if they are still the right model in the marketing mix – what does the current business environment look like, how effective and easy is it to attract the right audience, do they deliver ROI? These questions got raised after an anonymous blacklist was published in July and discussed at the latest #EventPlannersTalk Live event on 26th September at the Caledonian Club in London.

The MICE Blog had invited for a Breakfast session to talk about ‘Hosted Buyer Programmes and Fam Trips – is it time for a change?’ in partnership with the AIEA (Alliance of Independent Event Agencies), the Caledonian Club, Splento and

How destinations can improve fam trips

Fam trips, or familiarisation trips, are designed for event planners to get acquainted with a destination. They are often organised by the Convention Bureau, hotel(or hotel chains) and other local suppliers. Organisers invite top decision makers to experience the best of what the destination has to offer.

Fam trips are of educational nature to give planners ideas, inspiration and networking opportunities with local suppliers. Short haul destinations usually offer a 2-3 day trip. Medium to long haul destinations can offer trips even up to one week. Usually all expenses are covered but some destinations ask for a modest “administration” fee of about £10o.

Fam trips are exciting and fun! Destinations will go the extra mile to give you a lifetime experience. They will show you all the secret gems and be attentive to all your needs. You’ll often stay in luxury hotels or get the suite or best view. Most importantly, everything is organised for you and you just have to be there and can relax. This is one of the job perks.

I joined many trips and overall had very good experience. Nevertheless, I would like to share with you key aspects that destinations can improve and stand out. At the same time some destinations presented innovative ideas and I’ll share them with you, too.

Keep first day “light” for attendees

On the first day attendees are coming from different destinations, some have short, others long journeys to the airport of origin. Depending on the flight duration they can arrive exhausted. Often fam trip organisers plan a very packed programme on the first day but attendees can be exhausted to fully enjoy it. I recommend keeping the first day light, with a relaxed evening programme so we can have a good night sleep and save the energy for second day. Alternately offer your attendees an extra night the day before.

Great example from Munich fam trip with German Convention Bureau. Our dinner on the first night was few minutes walk from the hotel, so anyone who wanted to leave earlier could just walk back without having to wait for everyone to finish.

Facilitate attendee networking

On the first day when everyone arrives, most probably we are strangers to each other. Try to facilitate introductions, make an ice breaker or name badges including name, company and maybe a flag of the country of origin. Usually during the fam trip we find ourselves chatting on the bus, between the venue tours, at the table and introducing ourselves to each other. But would be better if the host plays a bigger role in facilitating networking.

The #MIND fam trip organised by Copenhagen Convention Bureau is one of the greatest examples how to facilitate networking. From the beginning they split us in small groups and had (sometimes) competitive tasks for us to collaborate.

© The MICE Blog

Cocktail teambuilding activity at the Park Inn by Radisson in Copenhagen, December 2014

Too much food

We appreciate the fantastic hospitality, but sometimes there is too much food. Starting with breakfast at the hotel, continues with splendid buffet lunches, coffee breaks, desserts, afternoon snacks and three course dinners can be too much. And because we also talk about sustainability, last thing we want is to waste food.

I support what Copenhagen Convention Bureau did when they gave us the opportunity to place our own order from the menu.

Don’t give us brochures or giveaways

We’re most likely to leave brochures or giveaways in the hotel room before check-out. It costs you money and bad for the environment. We have long journey back home and it’s just adding us extra luggage. Today it’s possible to send everything electronically and USB stick will be preferable over hard copy.

The best example I’ve came across is what the German Convention Bureau did during Munich fam trip. Instead of giving us brochures they donated the money to two local initiatives, Green City e.V. and the München Summt. What a great idea to incorporate CSR into the fam trip!

Don’t invite us last minute

When I receive last minute fam trip invitations, for me this means two things. Either someone just canceled and I’m your second choice, or you’re not well organised to get it out earlier. Someone who has time wouldn’t mind, but if you want decision makers, who are very busy, you should contact them at least 4 – 6 months in advance.

Invest in the invitation

If you want to attract decision makers, you must think creatively to prove it’s worth their time. The invitation is the first impression you give them if you cold call or even inviting an existing client, because they get many invitation so yours must stand out. I personally don’t don’t like PDF attachments because they take a lot of space in my in-box.

Best way to do this is to create a dedicate landing page, or a video. I love this example of the MICE PEAK event in Malta.

Local supplier and partners should be informed about prices

Fam trip organisers show us the best venues and when it comes to business, planners want to know how much it costs. It’s surprising how often suppliers send junior staff members to welcome the group and are not always informed or confident enough to talk about prices. It’s recommended to have 2 – 3 examples of packages to give us an idea how much the service costs.

How is your experience with fam trips? How often do you go and what are the challenges you encounter?