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Shaking up the fam trip

These days the phrase ‘fam trip’ is a bit of a dirty word in the industry. From the outside fam trips have long appeared to be a weekend jolly, during which a hotel buys someone dinner and drinks in exchange for sending some bookings their way. If you tell your colleagues you’re going on a fam trip… well, it’s not real work, is it?

However, things have changed, especially in corporate travel and events. People want to have fun so that the trips are memorable, but they also have to add value to everyone with a vested interest. To this end, Capita Travel and Events decided to take matters into their own hands.

“We initially overcame it by referring to fam trips as product knowledge trips”, say Leigh Cowlishaw, Capita Travel and Events’ director of proposition – accommodation and meetings. “And we created a process to make sure that any knowledge and information about partners and their locations could be shared amongst everyone in our business, and customers as and when needed.

“We want these trips to be enjoyable and memorable so that our teams continue to attend – they’re often hosted on weekends, and who would want to spend the weekend watching PowerPoint? But at the same time, we do need them to be educational, professional, and provide us with learners to take back to our business and wider, through our recommendations.”

The team at Capita were conscious of how much investment their partners were making in them – and that it wasn’t always going to guarantee them any kind of return, whether short or long term. So they decided to act.

“Although partners don’t expect any guaranteed bookings as the result of a product knowledge trip, we still thought there was a better way to support them in achieving ROI, while collecting and sharing their knowledge we need to provide great services to our customers,” says Cowlishaw.

The team set about building a more proactive plan for the UK trips. They began by focussing on the locations their customers were booking with regularity.

“Instead of just sharing trip invitations as and when they arrived, we began contacting several venues in each of our key locations,” says Cowlishaw. “What’s more, several different partners could host the teams over a weekend, rather than a single supplier having to invest in all accommodation, dinners and activities. This also provides a variety of different styles, and the opportunity to walk between different landmarks and products, to really get a bearing on customers’ key locations.”

And this change in approach has many advantages, says Cowlishaw.

“We obtain first-hand experiences of multiple properties in a location that we already know our customers require and also we visit new places to ensure that we keep a breadth of new and developed offerings.

“There is more chance of the venues or hotels receiving bookings from the back of these approach to trips, and they’re not having to invest as much because the fresh model shares the investment between several partners.

“It’s much more consistent with the collaborative way in which we work with partners, teams and customers in other parts of our business, and it’s a win, win, win!”