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Archive for June 18th, 2012

What is a Travel Agent Familiarization Trip (FAM)? Jun 18

What is a Travel Agent Familiarization Trip (FAM)?

We’ve all heard the saying, “Knowledge is power,” and that is especially true in the travel industry.  The more knowledge you have about a travel product, the better equipped you are to offer the expert advice your clients appreciate.  Brochures, websites, and training seminars are all useful tools.  But understanding the product you are selling involves more than glossy pictures, and goes beyond facts and figures.  Experiencing a destination in person brings the information to life in a way like no other.

One of the easiest ways to gain real-life travel experience is by going on a familiarization trip, more commonly known as a FAM trip.  These reduced-rate trips are specially designed packages that allow travel agents to visit the most popular destinations, resorts, and cruise ships.  FAM trips may be offered by tourist boards, hotel chains, or any other supplier that recognizes how much first-hand knowledge benefits the agents that are selling their products.  In addition, KHM Travel Group partners with top travel companies to offer exclusive FAM trips, with information tailored specifically to the needs of their home-based travel agents.

What happens on a FAM trip?  Most often, a FAM will include tours of multiple hotels and resorts.  At each property you will see samples of various room categories, as well as public areas like restaurants, kids’ clubs, pools, and spas.  You will have the opportunity to take pictures or video that you can share with your clients upon your return.

Your FAM trip will likely include training sessions offered by the trip’s sponsor.  These sessions provide education about the product, marketing tools available, and other valuable advice … Just what any travel agent needs in order to return home filled with enthusiasm and ready to increase your sales!  And you might even manage to squeeze in a little fun too, at a cocktail party, VIP dinner, or on an excursion to a local attraction.

Another fantastic benefit of a FAM trip is the opportunity to network with other travel agents.  As you get to know the other agents traveling with you, you’ll be able to share stories, ideas, and ways to overcome the challenges you’re facing.  You may also develop relationships with key supplier personnel and resort staff, who often provide valuable support of your travel business.

FAM trips aren’t limited to land-based travel, either.  Cruise lines often sponsor ship inspections.  These tours allow agents to view staterooms, deck layouts, entertainment venues, and often include a chance to sample the cuisine at one of the ship’s restaurants.  For an even more in-depth experience, you might consider a Seminar at Sea, which allows you to set sail on a scheduled itinerary at a discounted rate.  These cruises offer training sessions to expand your product knowledge, as well as the chance to enjoy the amenities and activities on-board and in each port.

Agents returning from a FAM trip often find themselves energized, inspired, and armed with the information and experience needed to grow their business to a whole new level.

KHM Travel agents can look under “Meetings and Events” in their agent portal to view upcoming FAM opportunities.

Not a KHM Travel agent yet?  Call Burt Kramer at 1-877-220-9260 (ext. 101) and/or visit KHMTravel.com to learn more about the training and support available to start your own home-based travel business.

How to Follow-Up After a Networking Event Jun 18

 How To Follow-Up After a Networking Event

In the first two “how-to” videos, you learned how to find networking groups, and how to effectively use the time you spend networking.  However, if there is no “follow up” after a face-to-face networking event; quite frankly, it’s a waste of your time.  That is why we say that the “follow up” is the most critical part of any networking event.

But how do you follow up after an event in a way that doesn’t appear pushy? And more importantly, how do you develop the relationship that you have begun to build and gain “trust” as a business professional?

Too many people walk away from networking events feeling good, but then do nothing. And in most situations, if you don’t follow up on a timely basis, the people with whom you spent time at the event probably won’t remember you or your conversation.  So, you should make it a personal goal to take decisive action after every single networking event you participate in.

Here a few suggestions for “follow up” that only take a little strategic planning and an effort on your part, but are proven to take your networking events to a new level:

  • [Send a follow-up email or note] Follow up by email or even the old-fashioned note in the mail.  Simply let the person know that it was great to meet them and that you will keep them in mind if you meet anyone that is looking for the services or products that they offer. This shows that you took an interest in their business and will make a personal investment of your time to help them gain new clients.
  • [Build upon the conversation you had at the event] Try to include something in your follow up email or note that is personal to show that you found them interesting. For example, maybe they shared with you that their daughter just graduated or that they are a marathon runner.  Let them know that you enjoyed hearing their story or give them a sincere “congratulations” on their success.  You can even decide to keep personal notes, observations, and new contact introductions after each event as well.  You may be able to use these notes for long-term strategic planning. Remember that your follow up email or note gives you the opportunity to build upon the relationship you began creating during the networking event.
  • [Follow up within 24 hours] Make sure that you follow up within 24 hours.  If you don’t, that individual may not remember who you are, or you may forget to do the follow up altogether. Following up quickly also shows that you are taking the networking opportunity and their business seriously.
  • [Add them to your contact database] Don’t forget to add this person’s contact information into your database. In your follow up email or note, let them know that you would like to email or mail them your monthly newsletter and try to gain permission to add them to your email list.  At this point, you will want to request to be put on their email list as well so you can stay updated on their business.  This shows the sincere desire once again to learn more about what they do.
  • [Sell yourself first, then your business] Leave your new contact with a feeling that you are more interested in them and their business than selling “your” travel products. You are still selling “YOU” and building a relationship. If this is done effectively in the beginning, you will get the opportunity to promote your business soon enough. In the meantime, you are building a strong relationship to build upon in the future.
  • [Use social media to make a connection] Send a Linked-in or Facebook invitation after your initial follow-up. This is a great way to stay connected both personally and professionally.  Using social media for your business has become the standard and you will find your request to connect in this way will be accepted by the majority of people you interact with.
  • [Suggest another face-to-face meeting] Suggest meeting for coffee or lunch so you can get the opportunity to learn about THEIR business. A win-win relationship is generally most appealing to a business contact. It will give you the opportunity to get to know them as an individual, learn more about their business and build a relationship. The benefit of this type of meeting is that they ultimately will want to learn more about you and your business in return.

Remember to approach networking as an opportunity to build relationships and widen your possibilities to grow your prospect list. Face-to-face networking becomes the most effective when you have fine-tuned your follow-up procedures and actions.

If you do these few simple steps when following up, you will find that not only have you separated yourself from the competition, but you have begun defining yourself as a person with whom they want to do business. And the bottom line is: People will do business with people they like.

Do you have what it takes to sell travel? Contact Call Burt Kramer at 1-877-220-9260 (ext. 101) and/or visit KHMTravel.com to learn more about the training and support available to start your own home-based travel business.