By Jennifer Rodrigues
Q: What is a media FAM and should I be arranging one for my hotel?
A: A media FAM, which stands for a familiarization trip, is an organized visit to a hotel that is put together to give members of the media a first-hand experience your property. These trips, which are often arranged by an inside or outside public relations team or sponsored by another organization such as the local visitors’ bureau, include accommodations and a schedule of complimentary activities that may include a site inspection of your property, spa treatments, meals at the on-site restaurants, and visits to local attractions.
Though they do require careful planning and a lot of follow-up with participants for optimum results, hosting media FAMS can definitely be an asset to your hotel because it will promote your property to the very individuals who will be writing, blogging and broadcasting about it. Plus, what better way to get the word out about your hotel-and make people fall in love with it-than allowing individuals to experience and enjoy all its amenities first-hand?
Q: What type of media should I invite to a media FAM held at my hotel?
A: Typically, media FAMS include a good variety of media personnel, ranging from local TV reporters and newspaper reporters, to travel bloggers and international magazine writers. When planning your media FAM, do your research. While it’s a good idea to target well-known travel magazines like Conde Nast Traveler and Travel & Leisure-or even TV stations like the Travel Channel-it can also be very beneficial to seek out travel bloggers, niche spa publications, food writers (which can end up writing articles and features about your property’s chef or on-site restaurants) and freelance writer who may be able to write about your hotel for travel brochures or guidebooks. Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook can be a good start in seeking out potential media contacts (preferably those with a strong social media presence and following) to invite to your media FAM.
Q: Are group FAMS better than individual FAMS?
A: When it comes to media FAMS, there are two ways to go: organized group FAMS, where anywhere from 4 to 20 individuals come out to your hotel for 2 to 3 days (or longer, depending on how much you want them to experience) and have a chance to talk to hotel management, tour the property, dine at its restaurants, and experience the spa and other onsite amenities. Group FAMS often also include tours to local attractions, including theme parks, shopping districts, landmarks, national parks and other historic sites that may be unique to your hotel’s destination. Individual FAM trips, meanwhile, include one journalist and may or may not feature a set itinerary and escorted activities.
Neither type of FAM is necessarily better than the other, though each offers a different experience for the media participants. Group FAMS allow a hotel to market its property a certain way, ensuring that participants see/do exactly what you want them to experience. However, some would argue that individual FAMS give participants a more “authentic” experience as they are able to explore the property and surrounding areas at their leisure, often traveling with a spouse or companion (or even their children) and having a more similar experience to that of a would-be guest. Individual FAMS might be beneficial for writers or bloggers covering a specific angle like romantic travel or family travel.
Q: How often should I host media FAMS?
A: There is no set number of times a hotel should host a media FAM. Many hotels do an annual media FAM, while others do them a couple of times a year (for example, one in the summer and one in the winter). Many hotels may only do FAMs to promote new additions to their hotel such as renovations, special seasonal events or new spa and restaurant offerings.
Q: How often can I ensure media coverage from FAM participants?
A: In order to ensure coverage from participants, it may be beneficial to have participants confirm a story before confirming attendance to your media FAM. This can also help you get a feel as to what type of coverage/angles your hotel will be receiving and can allow you to have time to invite additional participants if needed. It also is crucial to follow-up after the trip and stay up-to-date on scheduled media coverage as some journalists may not publish a story until months (or even a year) after a FAM trip.
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About Jennifer Rodrigues
Jennifer Rodrigues, Visibility Development Manager with ThinkInk and TravelInk’d, is a seasoned public relations professional with a passion for the hospitality industry, which is expressed in her role at ThinkInk’s travel division, TravelInk’d. At TravelInk’d, she is responsible for developing cost-effective and creative public relations and marketing strategies for clients in the travel and tourism, airline, lodging, cruise and meeting/event sectors. For more information on TravelInk’d, please visit www.travelinkd.com or contact Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more news about PR and marketing in the travel industry, follow TravelInk’d on Twitter @TravelInkd and visit the TravelInk’dFacebook Fan Page.