I have been fortunate enough to be on both sides of the fam tour equation. My CV includes a 10 year stint working in sales/marketing in San Diego for the Hyatt Islandia, the Rancho Bernardo Inn and Paradise Point (then Vacation Village). It was followed by a thirty year run with my hotel consulting business. Now, I’ve transitioned into full-time travel writing.
In late 2015, I was asked to arrange a fam trip to Mexico for a European based resort company. I vetted and handpicked seven travel writers. The fam was well received and all the journalists delivered stories as promised. Given my hands-on experience and background, please allow me to offer a few suggestions on how to host a successful hotel/resort fam tour:
Identify who you want and what kind of coverage. Print journalists, social media mavens, bloggers? Who is your target market? Leisure, millennials, seniors? Any niche you want covered? Food, spa, soft adventure? The travel writing landscape is often confusing and, although outlets and followers matter, numbers can be misleading. A couple of key questions might be, “Can you provide a letter of assignment?” and, “What’s your UVPM count?” Read past stories for style and substance.
1. Keep the fam small. Ten or less is ideal; more intimate for writers and hosts.
2. Make it clear in advance what you are hosting, e.g., transportation, rooms, meals, gratuities, incidentals, second guests, etc. No surprises.
3. Consider the itinerary carefully and don’t overload the journalists. Provide a breather on travel day, scheduling only a simple welcome event. At that time, give them a souvenir with your logo that is easy to wear at the FAM and pack later. (I’m a big fan of caps). Additionally, let them have time each day to recharge, write, take photos, wander around, etc.
4. Schedule very short informational meetings. You’ve invited pros, so they will ask for specific details while on site or later during their writing process. Keep property inspections relevant. Not many want to see the “back of the house.” If someone does, they will ask, but don’t shlep the entire group. Don’t hand out old-fashioned press kits. They are a pain to pack and carry and there are environmental issues. All of your information should be accessible online, including photos.
5. Do something off property so your guests don’t feel trapped and are able to write a more complete, interesting travel feature.
6. Don’t tolerate a writer who doesn’t “play well with the other kids” or consistently complains, runs late, criticizes, etc. Demanding and narcissistic behavior is not acceptable. It’s bad karma for the fam and the other attendees hate it. What to do? Confront the person and, if the boorish behavior continues, send him/her home. The word will spread and that writer will, most likely, find future invitations scarce.
7. Hand out a questionnaire at the end of the trip. Get the journalist’s critique of the fam; listen and learn.
Note: although the same suggestions usually hold true for CVBs, they generally have slightly different goals due to their various stakeholders.
Need help? I’d love to hear your fam trip stories, comments or questions….
My Poker Tutorial: Omaha 101 Plus An Insiders Guide to Reno was recently awarded Gold in the app category in the North American Travel Journalist Association’s 2015 competition.