Familiarisation events for business, government, or media
A few years ago, a regional economic development office planned a week’s worth of excursions for a national business development site selection expert. Four local development authorities got the opportunity to practice putting together local presentations to attract the attention of major companies looking to locate new facilities.
Two of the local authorities already enjoyed the benefit of extensive manufacturing and government services expansions into their areas. One was already an important tourist destination. The third had significantly less development than the others, relying on agriculture and light manufacturing.
At the end of the tours, the site selection team gave the first three areas high marks for a polished professional presentation. They toured existing facilities and received nice boxed lunches from local delicatessens. The poorest region, however, pulled in a local farm to table catering company, arranged for live music during the reception, and also promoted their region as well as they could.
The team noted that while the first groups had treated them as professionals, the area with the lowest level of development went out of their way to treat them like family. Though it had the least business advantages, it left the best impression.
In a real competition for attention, they went a long way to evening the odds.
These types of tours, usually held for business, government, or media officials, are called familiarisation events, fams, or famils. Whatever the term, they can go a long way to giving an area the advantages they need in earning the right kind of attention to advance their goals.
What Is a Famil?
Famils provide the best way in which a region can put its best foot forward to impress a target. That target could come from major industry, the media, government services, or some other source. In many cases, organisations and businesses create famils for journalists covering a particular subject, usually tourism. The individual or group sees a region’s best attractions, meets fascinating people, and encounters other activities that will inspire him or her to provide positive coverage.
Other times, famils help to expand businesses get familiar with the advantages provided by an area. They help the business make an educated decision on whether or not to expand there. Government officials, however, probably go on the most such tours. Famils for government officials have the goals of educating them on issues and sometimes advocating for a certain policy position face to face.
How are Famils Organised?
Trade and media famils generally include three major planning elements, the itinerary, the invitations, and the execution. Apart from these three aspects of famil planning, however, one must also include a fourth aspect: improvisation. No matter how big or how small the planned event, it will almost never go according to plan. Those who understand this fact beforehand will be less unsettled when the unexpected does occur. When you and your team successfully put one together they provide solid and often spectacular results, as well as a tremendous feeling of personal and professional accomplishment.
Create the Itinerary
Planning an itinerary seems deceptively simple.
Itineraries are schedules of places where tours go. They include information on travel time and how long the group will remain in one place. Time serves as the biggest obstacle and most limited resource. Experienced famil planners know that you must incorporate buffer time into almost everything. People will want to stay longer at certain sites. Travel times will usually lengthen during the trip, rather than decrease. The unexpected, such as road construction or accidents, may hamper progress.
To keep the group on time, you should take the recommended time between stops and add 30 to 50 percent. Then keep a list of spontaneous stops on hand if the tour happens to stick to the schedule. This will both prevent you from falling behind while also providing more opportunities for interesting events.
In a perfect world, all invited participants will respond promptly about their availability. You can then easily plan the tour to accommodate their presence or absence. No perfect world exists in famil planning. Some important invitation targets will fail to respond to the initial inquiry. Others will want to keep their schedule options open until pressed. Worst of all, some will commit and then never show. Work out a system of invitations, follow ups, and confirmations to ensure that you get the information that you need as quickly as possible.
Execute the Plan With Flexibility
From the beginning, always assume that the plan will somehow go awry. Try to have Plan B sites in mind all the way up until the day of the tour. On the day of the tour, if you serve as the coordinator, your job lies in being the “bad guy.” You must serve as the person who moves people along when the time comes to do so. Allowing participants and hosts to interact as long as they wish will result in even more hassles as your party will get behind schedule.
What Else Should You Consider When Planning a Famil?
Famils work best when you have something tangible to show to the individual or group invited. Do not subject a group to a lengthy powerpoint or other type of presentation where they have to sit and listen. Keep your invitees moving, seeing, experiencing, and enjoying. Make sure that you educate through “walk and talk” to keep them from losing interest or worse. Famil groups organised for tourism will want to see beautiful scenery and learn about its history, its upkeep, and other interesting data.
Trade famils should focus on “how it works.” Globally, television shows about how a job gets done keep millions of faithful viewers interested. Your tour can accomplish even more in person, especially when you put it in the context of great stories involving people. Outside of the logistics of planning a successful event – famil tour, you should consider the following issues as well.
Know the Audience
When planning a event as famil, you should gain an understanding of both the invitees and their potential relationship with the site partners.
First, develop a sense of the needs of invitees. What would interest, entertain, fascinate, or educate them? Resist the unconscious urge to only schedule events that would interest you, assuming that all share your tastes.
Next, think about how those potential events contribute to the purpose of the event. If they entertain the invited guests, but create a tangent from the purpose, you risk distracting their focus and attention from where you need it to be.
Finally, try to provide contrast between the different types of events. Several visits to the same types of sites could give you a bored, tired, and distracted group.
How to Achieve the “Wow” Factor
Details make all the difference. Make sure that every component of the tour contributes to the purpose. If you want to show an area’s tourist attractions, make sure to connect them to local food and drink opportunities, as opposed to chain restaurants and national chains. Also, try to connect them with as many people as possible who express pride in where they live and what they do. Excitement is always contagious. If you and your sites project it, your invitees will feel it.
People who attend your tour want to feel as if their presence is desired, appreciated, and enjoyed. Making them feel like family and helping them to create good memories of the experience will go far in cementing connections.
Follow Up Is Always Key
All your efforts will go to waste if you fail to follow up. In some cases, merely following up the famil with a phone call or a personal visit will accomplish the purpose. We suggest that you should also take the opportunity to get email information. Make sure that they get added to your email contact list so they can receive regular information about your area or industry. On tourism expeditions especially, take the opportunity to snap photos of your guests enjoying their time, then send them during the follow up process. Personal touches such as these truly matter.
Finally, when maintaining a relationship with journalists or other invitees make sure to occasionally contact them even when you do not need something from them. Wishing a Merry Christmas or Happy Birthday through social media can keep important connections going when there is no professional matter that needs to be discussed.
For Best Famils, Consider Hiring a Professional Service
Planning and executing a successful famil will take weeks of dedicated staff work to accomplish. In most cases, you will need staff with substantial experience to both plans and manage the project. Many companies and other organisations, such as local chambers of commerce and convention and visitors’ bureaus lack the resources to undertake such an endeavour.
If you lack the staff capabilities or time, consider reaching out to professional planning consultants. Get in touch with our team today to learn more about how to make your famil go the right way, and get the right results.