A Site Selector Shares his Insights on Best Practices for Familiarization ToursJune 27, 2016 | By: Sarah Reinecke
It’s well-known that site selector familiarization tours of a region are a key business attraction strategy.
So what are the key elements for hosting a successful familiarization (FAM) tour?
To find out, we spoke with Scott Kupperman, Founder of Kupperman Location Solutions, a site selector that gets invitations to anywhere from 10 to 15 FAM trips a year, and selects up to three trips to attend.
Below, Scott shares some insight on what he looks for in the FAM tours he attends, including what works best from his perspective.
DCI: How far in advance do you like to receive FAM invitations?
Kupperman: Giving at least 60 days’ notice is probably going to be the minimum. Three months in advance is probably better. At 30 days, you’re going to have a really hard time getting people.
DCI: When selecting which trips to attend, what key criteria do you look at?
- How much time are they asking me to spend; and what’s the possibility of conflicts with my day job?
- Will they cover my travel expenses?
- Once in a while, some places will offer a stipend of some kind – a reasonable and modest stipend. That’s not the end-all be-all, but it certainly helps.
- I specialize in working with companies in the food industry; so in the regions I go to, I look for whether it is a place where food is a target industry. Is there a cluster of food processing? Is it emerging as a place for food processing? Is it a place I’d like to learn more about for future opportunities?
DCI: Do you seek out FAMs in regions where you have a project in the works, or locations that are being explored by clients?
Kupperman: If there’s an ongoing project I have, or am about to have in that certain location, I would likely not go. Especially if the region is going to compensate me for travel and time, I don’t want to mix that benevolence with the project, and I don’t want to be seen by my client as being swayed in any way because a place invited me. I like to learn about what they have to offer relative to what I’m really focusing on, but it just works better if it is not a place I’m about to start evaluating for a live client.
DCI: What do you think is the ideal amount of time to spend on a FAM tour?
Kupperman: I can’t afford to be out for more than two nights. That usually means one full day and one or two partial days. I personally like it when I’m going for a very clearly defined business purpose. I won’t go if it’s just golf or some kind of leisure-related activity; that’s not how you’re going to find anything out about a region.
The ideal situation would be if I left home on a Tuesday afternoon, and the first part was a low-key get-to-know-you Tuesday night; Wednesday all business; and Thursday was a morning wrap-up and panel discussion, then I’m on an airplane coming back around lunchtime on Thursday.
DCI: From your perspective, what are some best practices organizations should aim for when coordinating and hosting FAMs?
Kupperman: The best events I’ve gone to spend a majority of time exposing you to something they think makes their region unique – meaning we go to a facility and meet with local people who are involved in economic development. I like it when places define how they differentiate themselves.
Maybe we’ll spend some time at an existing employer who has recently or historically done really well in the community, and candidly talk to leadership about what their experience was like in starting and running a business there. I also like getting exposure to workforce training programs and learning about any other local or regional entities in business/government/education that just make the place kind of different.
Additionally, I find it extremely valuable when trips allow for collaboration and discussion amongst the site selectors that join the trip. For example, I think it’s worthwhile when there’s time built into the program for site selectors to discuss the trip with hosts, allowing the guests to share what they saw and what they find interesting about what’s happening in the region.
Have you ever received feedback from a FAM trip you planned and what did you learn? We’d love to hear in a comment below or tweet us @aboutdci.