By Rebecca Chappell, Account Executive
Facilitating a FAM trip – a free or reduced-rate trip
offered to travel professionals to familiarize
them with what a destination has to offer – is a great opportunity to build
relationships with media as well
as provide an experience that they can recreate for their audience.
In the case of our client Wuksachi Lodge, a full-service hotel
nestled in the heart of Sequoia National Park
and operated by Delaware
North Companies Parks & Resorts, our FAMs have focused on what sets the
hotel and surrounding area
apart from other destinations. By customizing itineraries that showcase unique
seasonal and year-round elements (versus one-off news items that have a quick
shelf life), we are able to host media from short and long-lead outlets
simultaneously. This is important, as long-lead magazines and television shows
typically plan two months to a year in advance.
Executing a successful FAM trip requires a great deal of organization
and there are a number of items to consider from start to finish. Here are just
a few preliminary steps that will help ensure smooth sailing once guests are
Consider Timing and
You need to first decide on dates for the trip, length of stay
and the appropriate number of guests. Media generally prefer midweek to
weekends and at least a two-night stay. Avoid holidays if possible. When
contemplating how many guests to accommodate be sure to think about sightseeing
opportunities. Will your guests walk or do you have a passenger van and trusted
driver? And don’t overlook potential weather issues! If it rains on your
outdoor activity or a heavy snow shuts down a thoroughfare, what’s the
Design an Invitation
Your invitation serves as pitch to entice media. In addition
to the five W’s – who, what, why, when and where – it should convey the answer
to the question: What’s in it for me? With all the invitations travel media
receive to explore various destinations throughout the world, what makes yours
worth saying “Yes!” to?
A great way to attract media to your FAM is to send your
invitation through a professional database that specializes in the travel
journalism. But just because someone accepts your invitation doesn’t mean you
have to book them as part of the FAM. As part of the qualifying process you’ll
want to request credentials, writing samples, links to published articles, etc.
You can also pick up qualified leads from trade publications, sales and trade
show activity and referrals.
Create an Itinerary
A well-thought out itinerary is imperative. Sightseeing
destinations in Sequoia National Park, for example, are a great distance apart.
Many require a vehicle as well as walking time. This is the sort of thing that
needs to be accounted for when trying to get a media group to a tour on time. Also
imperative is providing plenty of down time between activities. Sure, you want
to showcase the place, but don’t pack the daily schedule so tight that media
have no time to rest or explore at their own pace.
Supply Travel Tips
Before media depart for your destination you'll want to send them a list of travel tips, from driving and/or flight directions to important phone numbers to all the localized things in between. Since there
are no gas stations within Sequoia National Park, we provide a list of the last
gas stations you can fill up at before ascending the mountain. Because Sequoia
is home to black bear, we provide bear safety information. And, as weather in
the mountains can be unpredictable, we always offer suggestions for what to
wear and what to pack.
These tips merely scratch the surface of what it takes to
pull off a successful FAM trip. They do require a lot of organization in
advance, but the results can be very beneficial for a client when all goes