If Fams Are Work Does That Make You An Employee?

Fams are work, so are you an employee?

by

Fams are sometimes thought of as one of the great perks of being a travel agent, 
and no doubt about it, fams can be fun, especially when you have a chance to 
meet and compare notes with other agents. But make no mistake, fams are work.

I suppose there are some circumstances – a trip offered by a supplier as a reward 
for outstanding production, for example – when you can afford to just relax, 
go with the flow, and just enjoy yourself. But even in that kind of setting there 
is still work to be done.

Here are just a few of the things an agent should be attempting to accomplish 
on a fam.

Most obviously, a fam is an opportunity to learn more about the supplier and 
the particular product or products being showcased on the fam. But agents 
should go beyond the brochure talk and once-over-lightly briefings. How big 
exactly are those staterooms? Is the layout convenient? is there enough 
closet space? Which are the best rooms in that resort (and don’t forget room 
numbers)? How long a walk to the main dining room, the pool, the beach, the 
gym? What is really cool about this feature and what is not? Which rooms 
should you definitely NOT book your clients into? The list is almost endless.

This kind of intelligence, often lumped under the heading “product knowledge” 
is valuable, but it becomes truly powerful when it is combined with your 
psychographic knowledge about your target clientele or, better yet, specific 
clients. You should constantly be asking yourself questions like “Will this appeal 
to my target market of young families?” or making mental notes like “These 
bungalows are exactly the sort of thing at appeals to Dr. Frobisher.”

Another goal of a fam should be to make contact with and develop relationships 
with supplier personnel that can be turned to your advantage down the road, 
when you need some information, face a tough sales challenge, or need the 
rules “bent” just a teeny bit. Always be sure to write thank you notes to the 
salespeople, BDMs, or on site personnel who have helped make your fam a 
success. Creating warm relationships is an underrated factor in travel agent 
success in my opinion.

Also, the “down time” spent with fellow agents, while great fun, is not just about 
mindless pleasure, hard drinking, or trading “war stories.” Most successful 
agents will tell you, if asked, that some of their best strategies were picked 
up from fellow agents. So don’t hesitate to ask “How did you do that?” when 
a colleague brags about some big booking.

Won’t your fellow agents be annoyed if you pepper them with questions about 
their methods and maybe even their “trade secrets”? Not at all. At the risk of 
sounding like Dale Carnegie’s ghost, one of the best ways to forge close 
relationships with people is to get them talking about themselves. And most 
experienced agents will be flattered to take a newer agent under their wing 
and answer questions over the phone – especially if that neophyte agent 
plies their trade in a distant state.

If you think about the topics I’ve touched on so briefly in the last several 
paragraphs, you should see that we are talking about a lot of work. And since 
most of this activity is investigative or reportorial, good note taking and record 
keeping is essential. On the many fams I have had the privilege of taking, 
I have consistently observed that the most obsessive note takers and question 
askers tend to be the most successful agents.

So if going on a fam means going to work, that ship or that resort becomes 
your workplace and, since you are a professional, you should conduct 
yourself in a professional manner. That much is pretty obvious to most agents, 
although you’ve no doubt encountered a few who seem to forget. But let 
me take this train of thought a step further.

I would like to suggest that – in a sense – you become an employee when 
you are participating in a fam. Yes, yes, I know that is not literally true, 
but let’s just pretend for now. You are no longer just any old agent, but an 
agent for this particular supplier. For the duration of the fam, you are working 
in that supplier’s place of business. That supplier is providing you with an 
experience of which they are proud, not to mention feeding you and 
occasionally plying you with drink. They have certain expectations of what 
you owe them in return, just as they do about their employees.

In the corporate world (and some home-based travel agents may have
transitioned from that world), companies can take a dim view of inappropriate 
behavior on the job and even what their employees do or say in their “off” hours. 
The same tends to be true of travel suppliers vis a vis agents on their fams.

Now in most cases, this is not an issue. Every sane travel agent knows enough 
not to brag to “regular people” they may encounter about how little they paid 
for their trip or to hand out business cards and try to poach business from other 
agents. Some agents, however, are not so careful about what they say in 
”private” or share online with “friends.” For better or worse, we live in an 
electronically interconnected world in which gazillionaire Mark Zuckerberg, of 
Facebook fame, can blithely say there is no such thing as privacy.

What this means is that what you say and do, during and after a fam, even 
among “friends,” can come back to bite you. All the more reason to think of 
yourself as an employee when you are on a fam, even if you know it’s really 
not true. All the more reason to stick to the highest standards of professional 
conduct, which I lay out in depth in The Home-Based Travel Agent Success Course.

Home-Based Travel Agent Success Course

If Fams Are Work Does That Make You An Employee? was last modified: October 26th, 2015 by Kelly Monaghan