A “fam” tour, or familiarization tour, is a common tool in the tourism industry, but almost no one takes time to explain the idea. Let’s go through the basics of fam tours for small business.
|Bloggers on a fam tour in Hutchinson, KS.
That’s me and Jeanne on the left.
Tourism expert Sarah Page explained that a fam tour is “a short tour geared toward the press or travel trade to familiarize them with the attractions of a particular area. The hope is that after the tour the press will write stories and articles about the area, and the travel trade will begin to book tours there.”
So if you run a bed and breakfast, you might give a night of free lodging to a small fam tour group in exchange for the hope of exposure that would lead to future business. If you could have your B&B featured in a national magazine or on a popular travel blog, wouldn’t you trade a night’s stay to get it?
Who might come on a fam tour?
While travel writers are the most common fam tour participants, there are lots of different people who you might see:
- people who publish in traditional media like newspapers, tv and magazines
- people who publish online with blogs, videos, audio, photos and the like
- people who book tours, like group tour organizers
- people who recommend travel, like your state or regional tourism groups
Do fam tours actually work?
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Marianna Hayes Chapman says
Great post – and yes, a very overlooked area of explanation in most of the small towns or even in larger cities with small businesses with whom we work. It is imperative that when a fam tour is organized by a local CVB that the business owner doesn’t just sit around waiting for the tour to swing through their business – but that they make a special effort to leave a memorable impression. I have had some clients that have actively accepted business cards from members of the tour and e-mailed them a personal note after to remind them, have seen them hand out one-sheet profiles stating the basics of the business and its’ back story along with a list of resources they could provide (like existing professional photographs, etc.). Helping the media and tourism folks help your business is your job. Just being there isn’t enough to make the business stand out.
Thank you so much for putting the spotlight where it needs to be!
I’ve been behind in my Google Reader and just saw your post today.
I want to first thank you for the reference to my post. What a nice surprise!
Secondly, I appreciate you taking the conversation on this topic a little further. Many DMOs out there still haven’t caught on to this yet, and I think your post goes a long way in showing them why they should.
Becky McCray says
Marianna, thank you for adding those ways that businesses can stand out on a fam tour.
Sarah, thank you for your original post to kick off this discussion. I was sure that most small businesses had never heard of fam tours, so we ought to explain.
thanks for this article on Fam Tours. I’m an entrepreneur living in Austria, Europe. We’re launching a new business in the travel sector. As my mother tongue is german and my english is therefore not perfect it would be great if somebody could answer my question: we want to call our business “femtour” – can this be mistaken for fam tour in the tourism industry? we want to offer journeys for women and I don’t want to have to explain that femtour is something different than famtour…can you see my problem? or do you think it is no problem…?
Would be great if someone could answer. Thanks!!!
Becky McCray says
Anita, I think it is not likely that “femtour” would be confused with “fam tours.”
You never know with business names. My local clothing shop called the Daisy Village frequently gets catalogs targeted to florists.
Becky, thank you very much. I think so too. I just needed some affirmation.
By the way: I like your blog and your website. I think healthy small businesses are very important for cities and as employers…
Becky McCray says
Thanks, Anita. Glad to have your comments.
Good guidence for small businesses and DMOs. I am just getting into the tour operator business and hope to participate in FAM tours so I can better market BC to our asian clients. I think there is a big difference between a properly run FAM visit (explaining tour policies, available media etc) and what a visitor would experience as a walk up guest.
Becky McCray says
Cameron, that’s a good point. Because the FAM tours are bringing people who are not the usual tourists, the tours should be different. Travel writers (for print or online) will want a more compressed version of what regular tourists may experience. Tour operators are more interested in sampling or surveying what is available to regular tourists. It pays to know this when deciding how your business may participate.