Travel Agent FAM Trips Explained
The prospect of becoming a travel agent is indeed thrilling. Many individuals exploring this career path fantasize about working remotely while enjoying complimentary global travel. While we appreciate this aspiration and believe it's attainable, there are appropriate and inappropriate approaches to achieve it. If your goal is to earn a six or even seven-figure income in this industry and gain respect among vendors, pay attention. FAM trips may not be as glamorous or reputable as you think.
Understanding Travel Agent FAM Trips
FAM trips, short for "Familiarization" trips, are designed for agents to gain firsthand knowledge of a property. These free trips often involve dozens of agents from various travel agencies. They participate in mandatory meetings and group tours of the property.
We've overheard discussions among travel agents who spend their entire year attending FAMs and conferences, yet barely make any sales. There exists a harmful subculture of agents seeking free travel and expecting something for nothing. These agents, often frequenting budget all-inclusive resorts, mistakenly believe they understand the travel industry.
Travel Brands' Perspective on FAM Trips
One might assume that hotels would welcome a group of agents eager to learn about their offerings. However, the travel industry is evolving, and often, those participating in group FAM trips aren't the ones driving sales. On one occasion, our team was visiting a property and having lunch with the sales manager when a rowdy group of inebriated travel agents were dining nearby. When asked if any of these agents had requested a meeting, the sales manager responded, "No, they just want the free trip. Those types of agents are all the same."
The takeaway here is that while FAM trips can be enjoyable, aligning yourself with individuals seeking handouts isn't a wise strategy in the travel world. Successful agents know how to foster profitable relationships with properties, leading hotels to go the extra mile for their clients. Conversely, if hotels perceive you as a constant drain on resources, they're less likely to extend special favors. In essence, FAM trips may end up costing more than you anticipate.
Which FAM Trips Are Considered Reputable?
Certain FAM trips are respectable, such as those for property grand openings or inaugural cruises. These invite-only events provide an opportunity to learn about new travel offerings before anyone else. However, don't attend solely for the free trip. Make it a point to meet key personnel like sales or revenue managers and discuss business. Demonstrate your intention to provide a return on their investment. If you don't plan on selling their product, politely decline the invitation.
Is Free Travel Acceptable for Agents?
Absolutely. Our top agents could practically live in hotels year-round for free while maintaining the respect of the property. The secret lies in understanding your value. The more business you generate, the more hotel and cruise brands will want you to experience their properties. Unlike group FAM trips, your visits will be solo or with a partner, allowing for productive, revenue-focused discussions and comprehensive tours tailored to your clients' interests.
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For instance, we frequently visit high-end hotels like Rosewoods and Amans, providing video walkthroughs of penthouses for our clients. Such personalized experiences would be impossible on a FAM trip due to the presence of numerous other agents.
In Conclusion: Embrace Free Travel, But Avoid FAM Trips
Free travel is undoubtedly one of the greatest perks of being a travel agent, but it must be earned. Avoid cheapening your reputation with budget FAM trips. Instead, focus on generating business and strategically building relationships with hotels, visiting each property with a clear purpose.
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If your ultimate goal is to get something for nothing and attend FAM trips to low-end properties, our host agency may not be the right fit for you. However, if you aspire to generate such substantial business that you enjoy complimentary stays in luxury suites worldwide without the need for group trips, we invite you to learn more about becoming a travel agent with our host agency.