Do FAM Trips Really Lead To More Travel Agent Sales?November 6, 2019 | By: Karyl Leigh Barnes
FAM trips are stressful to plan, expensive to implement and exhausting. Ever wonder as a destination organization if they are worth it?
In 2019, Development Counsellors International (DCI), in partnership with Travel Relations LLC, conducted a study among 1,705 travel advisors across the U.S. and Canada to better understand the value of FAM trips and whether or not they actually lead to sales. Here’s what we discovered.
Firsthand Experience Matters…
It turns out, personal and professional travel experiences are the top influencers on which destinations travel advisors recommend to their clients. A general sentiment expressed in the findings of the study is that travel advisors without firsthand knowledge do not appear credible and in turn cannot effectively sell the destination. While this information can be gained in several different ways, nothing beats on-the-ground experience.
So, why are FAMs so important for destination marketing organizations to implement? Because they ultimately lead to sales for the destination.
Travel advisors note that several factors influence what travel experiences they will discuss with their clients and push to sell. While a travel advisor’s travel experiences (both vacation and work-related) and preferred supplier relationships lead the way, recent sales events are the next leading influence.
Nearly ¾ of travel advisors (74%) report they participate in FAM trips.
The value of FAM trips for travel advisors is undisputable, and advisors want the opportunity to experience a destination firsthand to be able to credibly answer any questions that arise from clients. However, both time constraints and limited financial resources impact the ability of travel advisors to participate on FAM trips.
On average, travel advisors will take fewer than two FAM trips per year, with American travel advisors more likely than Canadian travel advisors to pass on FAM trips altogether. Of responding travel advisors, 79 percent report that the cost they must shoulder is the biggest influencer of whether they will attend a FAM trip. If participating in a FAM trip – and committing both time and other resources – travel advisors want to be assured they will be in destination for a sufficient period of time to really learn about the destination and the key selling points.
For a short-haul FAM trip, more than half of respondents believe four to five days is the ideal length to be in destination. American travel advisors note 2-3 day FAM trips as their second choice, while Canadian travel advisors prefer FAM trips of five days or more.
For a long-haul FAM, 41 percent believe a minimum of seven days in destination is needed while 46 percent believe five to seven days is enough. Overall, more American travel advisors prefer long-haul FAM trips that are 5-7 days in length, while Canadian travel advisors prefer long-haul FAM trips of seven days or more.
So, if not on an actual trip, how else do travel advisors expand their understanding of destinations?
Nearly eight in 10 travel advisors (79%) report attending destination-hosted events in their home markets. American travel advisors are more likely than Canadian travel advisors to skip events hosted at home.
Despite the many personal and professional demands on one’s time, 39 percent of travel advisors report that they most prefer attending dinner events, with lunch events noted as the second preference for U.S. travel advisors and cocktail receptions for Canadian travel advisors. However, attendees are again looking for the greatest return in the shortest amount of time and the vast majority (82%) prefer events to last no longer than an hour.
For that reason, the location of the event plays a big role in whether an advisor attends. The closer a travel advisor is physically located to the event, the more likely he or she is to attend. In fact, location of event is the top factor influencing a respondent’s decision whether to attend a destination-sponsored event, followed by the information to be presented. Again, this underlines the advisor’s underlying goal of building destination knowledge.
Time (and Money) is of the Essence…
Whether participating in a special event, webinar or FAM trip, travel advisors want to maximize the return on investment of their time and financial resources. Be respectful of the time commitment for events (preferred length of time: 60 minutes) and the amount of travel time required for the bulk of attendees to attend an event should always be taken into consideration. The same is true when considering the length of a webinar (preferred length of time: 30-45 minutes).
On the flip side, if hosting a FAM trip, be sure the amount of time spent in destination – regardless of whether it is a short- or long-haul trip – is sufficient to give participants a solid education on the destination and the top selling points they can in turn share with clients (preferred length of time for short-haul trips: 4-5 days; preferred length of time for long-haul trips: 5-7 days). The cost of a FAM trip is the primary determinant on whether an advisor will attend a FAM trip so know your audience and work with the correct suppliers to provide an unforgettable experience.
Download the complete findings of the study for free.
About This Study
In the 2019 study (a replication of our 2014 study), DCI surveyed 1705 U.S. and Canadian travel advisors (also known as travel agents) to determine how destination organizations and tourism boards can best work with them to enhance destination sales. Of the respondents, 81 percent identified as U.S. travel advisors and 19 percent as Canadian travel advisors.
Interested in learning more about how DCI’s travel trade team can help you increase sales of your destination among the travel trade? We’d love to explore how we might assist your destination marketing organization or convention bureau.