Familiarization tours, more commonly known as “FAM Tours,” are a fantastic tool for bringing out of town investors, agencies, or consultants to your area. Often initiated by economic developers, FAM Tours provide your guests with the perfect opportunity to experience all your community has to offer.

 

Regardless of your role in the process, you want to assure that everything runs smoothly for both the hosts and guests. Whether you are hosting the event directly or for a client, you all have the same goal—make your guests want to come back. There’s nothing worse than flying across the country to find a room full of people hectically deciding on a schedule. Weekend: ruined.

 

The Difference Makers

Let the experiences speak for themselves. Your guests need time to let everything sink in. They are experiencing things for the first time. Don’t ruin it by treating your event like a business meeting.

Give them something tangible to remember you by. Often, hosts will provide their guests with gift bags containing local goodies they can only get from the area they’re visiting. Hosting in Wisconsin? Give them a delicious cheese sampler that they can’t get anywhere else.

Local is good, but local and unique is better. Yeah, Applebee’s might be an American treasure, but I can personally guarantee that you will be able to find somewhere local and unique for your guests to eat.

Don’t wait until they arrive to start building relationships. If you want your tour to be a success, start understanding who they are and what they like before they arrive. It will make for great conversation and easier event planning.

FAM Tours are not reality TV shows. Social media posts are a perfect way to market your tour, but bombarding your guests with pictures and questions will make them feel constricted.

Don’t be afraid to show them a good time. No one said you aren’t allowed to let your hairdown and have fun with your guests. All work and no play makes for a disappointing visit.

Every guest is their own person. Everyone enjoys doing different things, so mix it up a bit and show some variety throughout your itinerary.

Bring in some outsiders. While your tour should be both fun and educational, it’s always good to bring in some individuals outside of the business realm. Try inviting people who are thought leaders of community development projects, not just people who are trying to sell something.

 

Properly marketing your tour is essential for maximum attendance and, of course, good publicity. From save-the-dates and invitations, to booking flights and reservations, everything needs to be packaged perfectly. My recommendation? Collaborate with a marketing agency. Simple might do the trick for some, but strategy, creativity, and organization will make your event stand out from the rest.