The world’s opening up again and that means destinations are starting to welcome educational visits from agents again, but the age-old question keeps coming back to haunt us: Just how many hotel visits are acceptable during a fam trip?

Few dispute hotel inspections are part and parcel of fams, but in the past agents say educationals have often been top-heavy on room viewings and light on experiences and getting out and about.

It’s now so easy to go online to check out different room types – and that’s one reason hotel visits are probably not as essential as they used to be.

Another is that clients now, more than ever, are looking for expert advice on where to go and what to do outside of resort.

Agents do like to see different hotels, though, and get a feel for the property. But they ‘won’t remember each room’, as one put it, when they return to the office and start selling.

How many hotel visits?

Most agents feel three hotel visits a day, ideally not back-to-back are OK. Others prefer only one or two a day.  One agent reported doing 12 property visits a day on an educational.

“One educational had us on and off coaches constantly seeing hotels and it was exhausting. We didn’t get the resort experience,” one agent told us. It’s a common complaint.

The best experiences

One fam-trip attendee said a self-drive in New Zealand, staying somewhere different each night, meant she’s been able to tailor-make client itineraries based on what she experienced. Other agents told us their best fam trips involved mini mokes in Barbados, chocolate making in Antigua and other experiences that highlighted a destination’s selling points.

Agents feel that, as they often take fam trips as annual leave, so some free time is essential.

Would/should agents contribute?

With concern about the return on investment among organisers, many agents told us they wouldn’t mind contributing to a fam trip.

Agents also told us they would happily pay a single room supplement, with many saying the fact they snore – or are concerned others might do – puts them off sharing a room. In fact, one woman said her loud snoring has meant she’s turned educationals down, due to embarrassment.

How valid are fam trips these days, anyway?

“I think they could prove to be as important as ever at the moment,” one agent said.

“Prior to seeing what the destination has to offer, it’s about the process of even getting there and back into the UK. Knowing the entry requirements for the other destinations is extremely important. That coupled with the destination and product knowledge will be extremely helpful.

“Having holidayed in Barbados recently, we are now very confident in advising our clients on the entry requirements in addition to what the destination has to offer. In fact, that confidence has meant we’ve actually switched clients to Barbados based on that new-found knowledge.”

Another agent said: “My conversion rate on a destination I have visited or experienced is a lot higher as you share your excitement and personal take with the client and they trust this the most.”

What’s the perfect number of agents on a fam?

Around 10, agents told us. “Bigger groups tend to encourage cliques of little groups and so the fam can get a bit disjointed with everyone staying with their own little group,” one agent said.

And finally…

Agents also report being offered fewer discounted trade bookings that they can take their partners or families on.

As one put it: “Looking at rooms can be great and eating all the delights on offer for adults but what if clients ask about the kids’ club or whether the pool is child-friendly, or what the beach is like?”