Suppliers in the travel industry will sometimes offer Familiarization trips (“Fams”) designed to familiarize agents with certain destinations or resort companies. These opportunities range widely in cost to the agent, but usually offer severely discounted costs for the land portion although airfare is most always “on your own”. It’s important to realize that these are NOT vacations – they are usually escorted by a representative from the sponsoring supplier and include sun-up to sun-down site inspections and sightseeing experiences – and require a certain level of professionalism.
It’s up to the sponsoring entity to set criteria for participation on their Fams. Some require that the agent have a certain level of sales with them to “earn” their spot. Some require that you have your IATAN ID card before you can participate. And some recognize that new agents actually benefit the most from a well-run Fam trip since it is so much easier to sell places that you have experienced first-hand.
When we are notified about a Fam opportunity by the supplier, we look at the itinerary and the criteria and make a decision about whether to just throw it out there to the whole host agency or to be more selective in order to meet their requirements. In the past year we have been able to get our agents on some VERY exciting fam opportunities – including some brand spanking new Travel MBA students!
Obviously the best Fams for you are the ones that match your niche or involve destinations or resorts that you will sell frequently. If your specialty is European travel, you don’t necessary need to hop on the first available Fam to Jamaica. But a great opportunity in Italy or France might be just what you need! Feel free to let us know what you think would be valuable for you to see so we can keep our eyes out for the right fit. And, as always, relationships are everything in this industry, so build those supplier relationships up over time and before you know it, the engraved invitations will start appearing!