In more than a decade of professional travel journalism, I’ve attended dozens if not 100 or more familiarization (FAM) tours of many varieties. In addition to individual FAMs, I’ve joined organized tours with other writers, as well as group leaders, tour operators, travel agents and other industry professionals. And although each tour is different, FAM tours have many things in common.
I’ve observed a number of best practices that will help you make the most of your time on FAM tours and develop good relationships with your hosts. Next time you set out to explore a destination, remember these six do’s and don’ts of FAM tours.
• DO come prepared to work. FAM tours often entail long, fast-paced days with busy itineraries. You’ll get the most out of a FAM if you embrace the hustle and view it as an opportunity to get business done.
• DON’T treat it like a vacation. I’ve had some incredibly fun experiences on FAM trips, but that doesn’t mean I take the trips just to enjoy myself. FAMs are professional events, and you should be punctual, courteous, attentive and appropriately dressed.
• DO take notes and photos. You’ll see tons of attractions, restaurants and hotels on FAM tours, and some will be just right for your groups. Taking notes as you go will make it easier to pinpoint the organizations with which you want to do business, and taking photos can help you sell the tour when you get back home.
• DON’T rely on your memory. It’s easy to think you’ll remember everything about an exciting trip, but FAMs are so busy that many of the details blur together in the end. If there’s something particular you want to remember from a trip, you should document it as you go.
• DO ask questions and engage with your hosts. Only you know the particular needs and tastes of your travelers, and you may have questions or insights about an activity or an accommodation that your hosts haven’t considered. Feel free to speak up, and try to work out the best arrangement for your travelers.
• DON’T be a diva. Sometimes a FAM tour participant can become a little too vocal and monopolize hosts, to the exclusion of everyone else on the trip. Don’t be that person; divas annoy everyone else on the trip and make a bad impression on hosts.