Hosting a fam tour for a tour operator is a very effective method of educating an overseas operator about your product and, therefore, increasing the advertising they will do for you in that market. Tour Operators want to visit you because they want to find out what your area or facility has to offer to their clients. They want to see for themselves what interesting, unique or appealing things there are to see and do in our region.
After RMI’s recent Megafam to Wyoming and South Dakota, participants commented that they felt much more knowledgeable and confident about selling our region after seeing it for themselves. Some had been selling this region for some time but had never been here. Others had been here but never seen some of the attractions offered on the Megafam. Especially in our region, it helps them greatly to experience travel here – to see the spectacular scenery, to experience the driving distances, and to understand the special challenges that changing weather and higher elevations can bring.
When you are deciding what to show on the fam keep in mind who your audience is and what their particular interest is. Find out if these tour operators are interested in winter product, or upscale accommodations or in particular activities. If not, don’t waste their time and your resources by showcasing these. Do they prefer upscale dining, campgrounds, ranches or moderately priced hotels? Are they interested in seeing activities in the area and if so, find out which kind of activities.
Show off your community from a tourist’s point of view. Don’t showcase things like the local library, community arts center, or church meeting center. Although these might be interesting from your community’s point of view, these are not attractions that will be of interest to most tourists. Show off your unique downtown shops and restaurants. Take your visitors on site inspections of several hotels. Point out local museums, spas, horseback riding venues or hiking and biking trails if you don’t have time to visit them. What reasons can you give them to go back home and enthusiastically sell your facility or area to their clients?
While you are showcasing your product, don’t miss an opportunity to sell your product. Give participants all the information they will need to develop tour product in your area. Hand out rates, brochures and contact information, tell them about your booking policies. Let them know who you are, what you do and how you can help them. Take advantage of the relationship building opportunity this brings.
Sometimes a community forgets to sell the things that make their area most appealing to tourists. Simply showcasing various hotels, restaurants and activities isn’t always enough. Remember to explain why a place might be the perfect fit for a particular type of visitor. Suggest an itinerary. Tell them how your facility or area can easily fit into a larger tour. Outline on a map the distances and overnights so they can easily put together a new tour itinerary that includes your product. Show the location of your product in relation to other nearby attractions. Make it easy for the tour operator to take the next step in adding your product to their brochure.
Providing this information doesn’t have to take up a lot of their time or yours. These fam tours are usually on tight schedules. Be ready to provide succinct information and to provide these specific details in a short amount of time.
Because there is so much ground to cover on the tours, they don’t expect a lengthy explanation everywhere they go, an abbreviated version focusing on major highlights will do. Websites are a great place to refer them to. It’s convenient for them to look up all the information they need once they return home if it is easy to find on your website.
Obviously it helps greatly for travel professionals to visit an area themselves, and it is valuable for them to meet you, the person they will work with when making future reservations, and this will hopefully develop into a long-term business relationship. If the participant’s experience with your product on the fam tour was memorable and if you make it easy for them to get information, they are more likely to include your product in their tours. Showcase your product in its best light, and remember to sell it.