Agents are ready to once again explore the world on fam trips, most notably to help jumpstart client interest in travel once the coronavirus is suppressed.
“Agents are going to lead the way by example in this recovery, so I think it will be important to begin fam trips as soon as possible,” said James Berglie of Be All Inclusive. “Personally, I’m ready to hop on a plane anytime—and yes, I would love to see suppliers open up fams right away, but I also realize they have challenges in being able to do so.”
Added James Ferguson of Travel Edge: “As ambassadors of travel, now more than ever, we can stimulate a return to travel with first-hand experiences and product endorsements—it’s more crucial than ever before.”
As much as agents would like to begin traveling again, they know that, at least for now, they’ll have to wait.
“I think that late summer, fall and this winter would be a great time for fam trips,” said Cal Cheney of Bucket List Travel and Tours, a member Nexion/Travel Leaders. “Advisors should have the time and money to reinvest in their craft. I had trips to Peru and Croatia canceled, so I have the time, money and desire to travel, [and] I assume other advisors do as well.”
Cheney said he plans to fly to Chicago on or around June 1 to visit friends and relatives. “And I plan on telling my clients that,” he said. “It is [a customer’s] personal decision [to travel], but if we show our clients that we are not afraid to travel, isn’t that a healthy thing?”
In Cheney’s view, fam trips are essential to the selling process. “There is no replacement for having been there,” he said. I have only been in this business two years, yet, having been to 35 countries and all 50 states at least twice has given me the confidence and credibility to help counsel others about great places to go.”
On the hotel front, resort fam trips are key in helping agents match clients to the properties that best suit their needs. “Being able to match the right customer to the right resort is crucial, so experiencing the resorts is very important. Each resort has its own unique personality—and it’s something you can’t really know unless you’ve experienced it,” Berglie said.
Claire Schoeder of Elevations Travel noted that she is very selective about the fams she travels on. “I select fams based on the company that is sponsoring it and how likely I am to sell that company’s product to my clients. Fams that stress a few properties over seeing four or so a day are much better for learning.”
Meanwhile, suppliers also believe that fam trips are essential to helping agents kick start travel while also familiarizing them with their products.
“We highly recommend agents visit the destinations personally, as it makes a lot of difference in selling these trips,” said Rajni Pandey, manager-international partnerships at Culture Holidays, whose destination offerings include India, Asia, the Middle East and Europe. “The goal of these fam trips is to help agents build destination knowledge to be more effective ‘sellers of travel.’ Attending a fam trip will help travel agents learn about the pros and cons of the destinations so that they can advise their clients accordingly.
“Secondly, fams help travel agents to get a better understanding of the tourism infrastructure in each destination. For example, they can have a better idea [of what] a five-star hotel looks like in a particular destination and how [it compares] to the standards in their country. It also gives agents the chance to build connections with their supplier, and will help them to know the services they are providing as well.”
Additionally, the Serenade Punta Cana Beach Spa & Casino Resort in the Dominican Republic, which is set to open in September, is taking a proactive approach to getting agents to visit the property.
In commemoration of National Travel Advisor Day on May 6, the 600-room, all-inclusive property unveiled travel advisor rates of $58 per person, double, per night for stays in Tropical Garden View rooms for travel from Nov. 1, 2020, through April 30, 2021.
“Celebrating travel advisors is especially important this year after what the travel industry has faced these last few months with the travel agents assisting their clients through all of this,” said Aimee Tejeda, the property’s director of sales and marketing, Serenade Punta Cana Beach, Spa and Casino Resort. “We will get through this together, and look forward to welcoming travel advisors to experience the resort once this passes.”
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