Canadian travel advisors get the latest updates on Palace Resorts
Virtually everyone loves a fam trip. That said, not everyone acts professionally. And in some cases, travel advisors aren’t properly prepared to make the most of the experience.
Here’s a look at the “do’s and don’ts” of fam trips – starting with the “don’ts.”
Don’t think of a fam as a vacation. “I believe some go on fams for the free trip and not to learn about the product to present informed decisions to their clients,” said Chris Caulfield, a CruiseOne franchise owner in Croton-on-Hudson, NY.
“Professionalism should be your top priority,” said Alison Tracy of Dream Vacations – Madson & Associates. “This is a professional industry that provides a professional service you should act accordingly.”
When inspecting rooms do not touch everything in sight. “From the alarm clock to the TV, to the minibar – keep your hands to yourself, said Ryan Doncsecz of VIP Vacations.
“And please, do not use the bathroom. These rooms are meant to be kept pristine for tours, with multiple other groups coming later that day.”
Added Tracy, “On one of my recent fam trips, there was an agent in our group that tried out every bed in every room we toured. It felt so incredibly unprofessional.”
Don’t take items from rooms. “I had an older agent [on a fam] with a giant bag who took every amenity kit from each bathroom from every room we toured,” said Sarah Kline of Time for Travel. “She could barely carry the bag by the end of the day.”
Do not make a distraction of yourself. “I was on a Europe fam tour and we had a Disney agent who was on hold with Disney – on speaker – every day of the tour, all day,” Kline said. “Our entire fam trip video has Disney songs in the background.”
Don’t hold the group up during an inspection tour. Find another time to stop at the pool bar to grab a drink or a snack at the grab-and-go. “Not only are you not a paying guest, but you’re holding the group back – and if you’re on a fam, you’re likely doing site inspections at several other resorts and that’s taking time away valuable time, Tracy said.
Be respectful of guests. “When walking through common areas, don’t walk between guests, walk around them,” Tracy said.
Do not solicit business from guests. “Whether you’re aware of it or not, it is not allowed to solicit business from guests while doing site inspections,” Tracy said. “Although this should go without saying, it does happen and I have personally witnessed it. It left a bad taste in my mouth.”
Travel advisors dining together on a FAM trip. (photo via RIU Hotels & Resorts)
Pay attention to your existing clientele. “Do not ignore your emails. Just because you are out of the office does not mean consumers aren’t trying to get in touch with your business,” Doncsecz said.
On the “do” side of fam trips, be sure to connect with the sales manager. “Give them your business card and leave a professional impression with them so they remember you,” Tracy said. “It may help you in the future. Don’t be afraid to ask the sales manager questions, even if the questions seem silly.”
Take photos. “This could help you close a sale down the line, but also allows you to remember many of the small details you are seeing,” Doncsecz said. “On bigger fam trips where you are viewing many hotels, a lot of the minutiae can become convoluted – so help your future self by taking tons of photos.”
Share your experiences on social media. “This is free and easy marketing, with tons of opportunities to let the world know what you are doing and the experience you now have that can be shared,” Doncsecz said.
Don’t forget your business cards. “You will have opportunities to exchange business cards with many important industry contacts, as well as hoteliers,” he said. “Many of them will reach out to you right away and thank you for your visit. Be prepared with your contact information handy.”
Observe guests. “What are they doing?” Doncsecz said. “Are they happy? Who could this property appeal to that you are working with currently?”
Dress appropriately. “Wear breathable, comfortable, business/smart casual attire and think about comfortable footwear as well,” Tracy said. “Agents have been seen wearing inappropriate attire such as swimwear with coverups while doing site inspections and this is just totally unacceptable and unprofessional.”
In Caulfield’s view, the biggest “do” is to “look at the cruise or resort through the eyes of your clients.”
“Areas that may not interest you but are of interest to your client are what you should pay attention to the most,” he said. “Consider what questions your clients have asked in the past that you were unsure of so you are better prepared next time.”
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