Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” And Dwight E.’s notion seemed to ring truest to everyone in our industry during COVID, didn’t it?
If you’re a DMO/CVB sales or marketing professional, then you know better than most that when it comes to meeting and event planners, the planning doesn’t stop—and it didn’t for most, even in the thick of the pandemic.
One highly effective tool that many DMOs have used in keeping the planning process alive throughout everything has been a virtual FAM (familiarization) tour for their leads. Naturally, right? FAMs help DMOs increase product knowledge. They give planners the opportunity to familiarize themselves with a city firsthand so they can adequately plan for their attendees and pitch the city to any stakeholders or board members involved. So, it makes sense.
And, while no amount of online research or touring compares to the familiarity gained during a real-life FAM trip—the knowledge a meeting planner might get from navigating an unfamiliar airport, eating at new restaurants, or simply feeling out a city’s atmosphere—through technology and online demand, virtual FAMs have made it possible for planners to get a feel for a destination better than ever before.
A lot goes on behind the scenes and screens of a virtual FAM. To understand what will attract and increase online attendance during your virtual FAM tour and continue to sell after it’s been given, dive into your destination’s unique selling points and think of ways to blend those with entertainment value.
You’ll need a fully imagined marketing plan to promote and garner interest in the virtual FAM. This plan should include designed content for social posts and ads, email communications to your database, a lead-capture landing page to grow attendance and automation emails to keep planners informed and engaged before and after the FAM.
FAM Tours Have Legs
While many meeting and event professionals return to a co-workspace, attend industry events and even join live group FAMs again, DMO sales teams will continue to supplement their selling efforts with virtual FAMs—whether they’re live or pre-recorded. FAMs can have shelf life and be used as promotional sales tools and highlight reels for future in-person tours.
After all, a vast number of planners have recalibrated to (and have a higher awareness of) hybrid and virtual tools to help with the planning process. Plus, even as destinations become poised to host FAMs, travel isn’t always possible. The more selling tools your DMO has, the better! (Also, we can’t forget that content consumption doubled in 2020 (Source: Forbes)).
Tips for a Successful Virtual FAM
- Incorporate your top meeting hotels/resorts to show and share how they have prepared the destination for a safe and healthy return to business.
- Allow key staff to play host (one or two from sales) and behind-the-scenes “producer” to ensure the flow of presentation is on track and moves properly from locations/pre-recorded to live etc.
- Practice. Then, practice some more. Do several dry runs to ensure your team and your partners have their talking points well-rehearsed.
- Set a precedent for the FAM, addressing housekeeping and technical aspects, a rundown of the agenda/itinerary and the presentation’s flow.
- Focus on group and meeting activities, steer away from “family activities.”
- Have a prompter to ask questions to keep partners on-topic if they are live and participating.
- Have fun! This is one of the best ways to keep people engaged.
Digital Edge Archives: Successful FAM Tours
From Park City, UT, to Boise, ID, to Lehigh Valley, PA, DMOs have tapped into virtual FAMs to keep their selling alive.
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Virtual FAM tour marketing is one of many services that we offer our DMO clients to help them bridge the gap between their sales and marketing team while providing value to meeting and event planners. We’d love to do the same for your DMO. Put us to work. Start here.