Because the saying goes, you need to see it to consider it. And in terms of location scouting for vacation spot occasions, planners have to get the complete image firsthand earlier than deciding on a spot. Enter familiarization journeys, or what’s extra generally referred to as FAM journeys. Normally hosted by venue operators, lodge properties, and vacation spot organizations, most of these journeys enable planners to expertise a possible website—from the assembly areas to the excursions—for consideration for upcoming occasions.
However what do planners actually wish to take away from a FAM journey? And the way do hosts purpose to draw potential purchasers (and probably new enterprise) to their locations and venues? We polled a number of specialists to seek out out.
In December, thehosted a visit for high occasion and marriage ceremony planners to point out off the property and the town. “Prior to now, Philadelphia has been typically missed as a vacation spot for luxurious, and it’s lastly being acknowledged as a high marketplace for internet hosting occasions, milestones, and conferences,” defined , director of catering for the 4 Seasons Lodge Philadelphia. She added that she wished the occasion profs to “expertise firsthand what our service requirements and degree of hospitality really feel like.”
As an alternative of solely inviting planners, Ewing defined that for this current journey, a mixture of luxurious occasion professionals was included. “Our purpose was to seize a broader viewers and convey a distinct vibe to the expertise, so the planners who have been invited felt extra particular and skilled one thing totally different. We labored collaboratively with lots of the metropolis’s high distributors to provide the friends a way of what they might anticipate when reserving their occasions with us.”
, artistic director and proprietor of New York-based (TTWD), attended the 4 Seasons FAM journey, and stated that “we’re at all times preserving a pulse on new and noteworthy distributors who can provide a singular expertise for our purchasers, whereas doubtlessly additionally resulting in future mutually helpful relationships and collaborations that align with who we’re and what we do at TTWD.” She added that the lodge “felt like such a pure match for us, not solely as a result of we have now many purchasers from Philadelphia and the encircling areas, however as a result of it’s a one-of-a-kind property.”
Personalize the Expertise
When it got here to the 4 Seasons Lodge Philadelphia journey, Ewing stated that the crew “spent weeks attending to know every attendee previous to their arrival so that each element might be customized.” This included a shock supply of their favourite espresso and a monogrammed 4 Seasons bathrobe with an invitation to a spa evening that featured a private bottle of Moet, a uncooked bar with caviar, and candy treats.
After all, one of many principal objectives for attending planners is to achieve a greater understanding of the providers and facilities supplied by the property. Ward added that she additionally desires to know that her purchasers will probably be properly taken care of “as a result of finally once we are recommending a venue for our purchasers’ occasions, we have to know they are going to be in the perfect palms attainable all through the planning course of and on their occasion day.”
Spotlight the F&B
After scouting potential occasion areas, subsequent on the to-do record for planners is meals. Ward stated that she expects to study in regards to the numerous culinary experiences which can be supplied by the property or which can be distinctive to the locale. “Being that meals and drinks are on the coronary heart of any celebratory occasion, it’s essential to have the ability to converse to the forms of meals service, cuisines, and caliber of meals and beverage a property can provide when recommending it to a consumer.”
, proprietor of in San Francisco, stated that that additionally contains the banquet crew and off-site choices, not simply the on-site eating places. “When visiting a brand new vacation spot, it’s great if properties join with areas off-site that they accomplice with for different occasions comparable to rehearsal dinners or welcome events and to provide us a style of the expertise off property.” For instance, the 4 Seasons Lodge Philadelphia journey included lunch on the , which Leahy stated supplied a “nice style of the chances within the space.”
Showcase the Vacation spot
“When planning these journeys, it’s necessary that we highlight not simply the lodge, but in addition the situation as properly,” stated , director of incentive and assembly gross sales for the all−inclusive property assortment at Hilton Lodges & Resorts. “Not all purchasers are accustomed to Playa Del Carmen and Tulum in Mexico or Montego Bay in Jamaica, so we wish to be sure that we’re educating them on the vacation spot in order that they’ll resolve what experiences they’ll create to make sure an inspiring assembly or incentive journey program.”
For instance, in Mexico, Hilton has taken planners to the Mayan ruins or cenotes in Playa Del Carmen or Tulum, which supply ziplining, water rafting, or cave experiences. “We would like our friends to completely immerse themselves to allow them to then recreate the expertise for their very own purchasers,” Brown stated.
, co-founder and CMO of , a cost processing platform for occasions, agreed with this, saying that “I don’t adore it when the FAM journey retains you on property your entire time,” noting that the 4 Seasons journey included a metropolis tour with the group.
It’s “useful to get to know the tradition of that vacation spot and what makes it distinctive, together with the various kinds of potential actions and experiences that vacation spot can provide in an effort to have a well-rounded understanding of what an occasion or weekend of occasions may appear like,” Ward stated. This additionally contains highlighting the native distributors and companions. “A part of working in a brand new location is about having connections domestically within the space, and it’s at all times great to get to know these people along with the contributors on the journey,” Leahy stated.
, vp of gross sales operations for , stated that along with spotlighting the and accommodations just like the and , itineraries usually additionally embody visits to native eating places and venues that provide distinctive off-site actions, comparable to Penn & Beech Candle Co. the place teams could make their very own customized candles and native distilleries that provide excursions and tastings. (Columbus lately hosted PCMA Convening Leaders 2023.)
Curiously, Hammond stated that a part of the attraction of Columbus is that it is a one-day drive or a one-hour flight from greater than half of the U.S. inhabitants, so highlighting how simple it’s to get to is a vital a part of website visits. She added that “we wish to respect that planners have restricted time.” That features providing a fast 24-hour go to.
Present Off the Behind the Scenes
of in Grapevine, Texas, stated that she loves “studying the sudden about properties on a FAM journey. I wish to know the historical past of the constructing, the again halls, the loading areas, and the freight elevator. … We’re eyeing properties from a logistical perspective—that’s why we’re employed.”
Know Your Viewers
“Some resorts wish to tour you thru each single room class—useful for journey brokers however pointless for occasion professionals—and sit you down for lengthy conferences and shows with in-depth discussions in regards to the model,” Leahy stated. “These conversations ought to occur extra organically and intimately on a visit like this as a substitute of in a compelled setting.”
On the flip aspect, she stated that “some FAM journeys are all in regards to the enjoyable, and I stroll away actually having no thought what the gross sales crew is all about or what the occasion areas even appear like.” So hosts want to have the ability to discover the stability between work and play when planning their itineraries.
A lot of the planners talked about the necessity for downtime throughout the itinerary, so “they’ll recharge, examine emails, and even simply put together for the subsequent exercise,” Ward stated. “It’s tremendous useful to have these moments in an effort to guarantee attendees really feel energized and totally current for all of the enjoyable and academic actions you’ve deliberate for them.”
Brown agreed, saying that “downtime is a key factor for any lodge keep, whether or not for enterprise or leisure. We perceive that, even whereas on property for a work-related go to, planners nonetheless have emails to reply to and households to examine in with. It’s necessary that we enable them the pliability to take care of these duties.”
Along with studying in regards to the property and vacation spot, Leahy stated that these journeys additionally provide “distinctive networking alternatives with people I wouldn’t essentially get to satisfy in any other case. The intimate and prolonged nature of a FAM creates a a lot deeper bond than a cocktail celebration, and I’ve made a few of my closest associates within the trade on these journeys.” She added that she’s been capable of name on individuals she met on FAM journeys for recommendation in numerous markets and that she’s given and gotten referrals from the individuals she’s met.
Winikka agreed, saying that “whereas I do love attending different trade occasions, they have a tendency to lead to floor chit-chat and dialog. On a FAM, we have now the chance to spend actual high quality time collectively. The conversations are usually deeper and extra significant, and my hope is that all of us stroll away with a speed-dial kind of relationship.”
The lodge partnered with native organizations, together with the Philadelphia Ballet and Philadelphia Museum of Artwork, “to create interactive and interesting experiences that spotlight the cultural, culinary, and architectural landmarks of the town,” Ewing stated.Photograph: Courtesy of 4 Seasons Lodge Philadelphia