Picture this: You’re sitting around a campfire at a luxury resort just steps from the Yellowstone River in Montana. During the day, you’re horseback riding and fly fishing. In the evening, you’re sipping an Old Fashioned in a hot tub. At a certain moment you think to yourself, “Is this even real?”
Not only is this completely real, but for a Fora Advisor, it’s one of the epic perks of the job. It’s called a FAM trip, or “familiarization trip,” and it's one of the many community benefits offered to Fora Advisors. Read on to learn more about Fora’s recent FAMs, and how you can get on board.
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What are Fora FAM trips?
FAM trips, or “familiarization” trips, are when a group of travel agents (at Fora, we call them advisors), visit a property to “familiarize” themselves with it. They stay at the hotel, sample the activities and meet with the General Manager and other hotel leadership. Advisors get first-hand experience to recommend the hotel and destination more effectively to clients.
The best part? Travel advisors attend FAM trips for a fraction of the cost of staying at the hotel or visiting the destination on their own, due to Fora’s existing relationships with hotels. Hotel managers love hosting Fora Advisors because travel advisors are decision-makers for dozens (even hundreds) of clients. This means when FAM trips happen, our advisors benefit from VIP treatment, behind-the-scenes access and exclusive introductions, all while networking and connecting with other travel advisors.
Note: There are also industry FAM trips, which are available to a select group of Fora Advisors. These FAMs are hosted by hotels and resorts, cruise lines, tourism boards and other travel providers like tour operators. Fora FAMs, however, are exclusive to advisors in our community.
What do Fora FAM trips entail?
Fora has hosted two amazing FAM trips in our first six months as a business, each wildly interesting and a whole lot of fun.
The first FAM was to Sage Lodge, a luxury resort just 35 minutes from Yellowstone National Park. Fora Advisors stayed three nights in their own room in one of Sage Lodge’s ranch houses, enjoying meals and activities (including dinner at The Grill, an on-site restaurant that serves magnificent regional cuisine like beef and bison, cooked over an open fire). Fora Advisors were welcomed to their FAM weekend with a cocktail reception, a mixologist lesson, a tour of Yellowstone National Park, a spa day, an evening of stargazing and even an afternoon of ax throwing. Plus, Fora Advisors were able to meet with Justin Robbins, Sage Lodge’s General Manager, creating lasting relationships that will benefit Fora travelers for years to come.
Our second FAM happened on Cape Cod, along the coast of Massachusetts. Fora Advisors visited Chatham Bars Inn, a stunning resort situated along a private quarter-mile beach. There, they walked along the inn’s boardwalk and gazed at the blue waters of Aunt Lydia’s Cove, sipped beverages under private cabanas and participated in a tour of the on-site farm. This farm produces 100,000 pounds and 125 varieties of vegetables and features innovative farming techniques such as hydroponics and Slovenian beekeeping.
While the activities are certainly a highlight of the FAMs, many Fora Advisors shared that their favorite aspect is the ability to get to know other Fora Advisors and build meaningful relationships with each other.
“It was really a great cast of characters,” says Fora Advisor Gaya Vinay, reflecting on the Montana FAM. “Everybody was so kind and lovely and could not be more different, which was so nice. There were people who had been in the travel business for a while. And then there was a younger crowd that was just sort of starting out. We had a great time.”
Deb Swacker, who was also on the trip, recently reconnected in New York with other Fora Advisors who went on that same Montana trip.
“It was like a high school reunion,” she laughs. “We were so excited to see each other.”
What are the benefits of Fora FAM Trips?
There are a lot of reasons to go on a Fora FAM trip. Getting first-hand experience of a destination is not only fun, but makes it that much easier to recommend a place to your clients and to give them helpful tips along the way.
Many advisors use FAM trips as built-in marketing opportunities, taking pictures and sharing them on their websites, social networks and other media to inspire wanderlust and build bookings.
If you’re looking for an opportunity to really experience a place without paying out-of-pocket for a vacation, a FAM trip is a great way to get a “lay of the land” through a quick, and much less expensive visit. Because the intention of a FAM is to familiarize, Fora Advisors are able to experience a lot of different parts of a place at once. They participate in site visits, seeing multiple room styles at a hotel property, and often hear directly from the General Manager and other hotel management staff, ultimately giving them a well-rounded and informed view of a destination.
All of these perks happen while simultaneously building your network and tapping into Fora’s in-person community. Fora Advisors are able to form relationships with hotel management to make sure their clients’ experiences are top-notch. They also take time to interact with Fora Advisors and our HQ team. This has a lasting impact not just on future trips to the FAM destination, but on Fora Advisors’ ability to refer their clients or get valuable support and help from other advisors in the future.
FAM trips are just one of the many benefits of being a Fora Advisor, and the benefits of community and connection don’t just stop after a FAM is over. Fora Advisors have access to a wide network of hundreds of other travel advisors around the world who can help them build their knowledge and destination expertise. This happens inside Fora’s own community platform, called Forum, where Fora Advisors have the ability to post questions and message other advisors, get advice and feedback from the Fora team, participate in virtual destination trainings and business management skills, and more.
“I have been incredibly thankful for Forum and being able to ask questions about properties and locations,” says Kerry Boyd, who recently went on Fora’s Chatham FAM. “Having Forum there is sort of a support system. And for me, it’s been incredible to know that the Fora team is available and able to help you.”
How can I attend a FAM trip in the future?
The Fora team is already planning its next FAM trips for Fora Advisors to see, taste and experience the world. We currently offer these FAMs to select groups of certified Fora Advisors (who are invited based on their expertise, training level and Fora cohort participation), and look forward to welcoming more advisors as our community grows.
Not only do Fora Advisors get to travel the world, but they also can make meaningful income planning travel for others. Want to get started? Learn more about our Fora cohorts and sign up to become a Fora Advisor today.
Looking for more intel? Read our piece on how to become a travel agent.
Or, check out resources on other types of travel agent careers: