One of the most important and enjoyable aspects of being a travel agent is going on fam trips in order to gather first-hand information about various destinations and paint vivid pictures of your travel experiences for your clients after you return. Here, we asked several agents about the most recent fam trip that they went on, and what they learned from it.
"I recently went on a five-day Caribbean
fam hosted by Travel Impressions," says Rick Etherson, owner of Knoxville,
TN-based Etherson Travel Destinations, Inc. The group of agents, which totaled
75, convened in San Juan
and then split up into groups of 15. The smaller groups then took separate
flights on American Eagle, visiting two Caribbean
islands a day. "This was great because we weren't always bumping into each
other," says Etherson. "The whole group would end up on the same
island each night, which was a great opportunity to exchange ideas and
experiences." Etherson claims that the trip really opened his eyes to the
beauty of Nevis, Martinique and St. Lucia,
but he was particularly impressed by Antigua.
"I'm a history buff and the island is loaded with history," he says.
"I hadn't sold Antigua before the visit, but we're now selling a lot of Antigua vacations."
Last September, Trudy Lagerman, a travel consultant with
Liberty Travel in Selinsgrove, PA,
went to New Zealand
with Swain Tours. What she learned there helped her to land a sale right away
after she returned from the 10-day trip. "I learned how diverse the
country is," Lagerman says. "From the North Cape to the SouthCape,
there are unbelievable differences."
Lagerman visited Queenstown, Auckland
and Christchurch, among other places, and along
the way stopped at some of New
Zealand's wineries, took part in her first
bungee jump and checked out some penguins.
"Now I know how to sell it," she says. "I
could do an FIT, or book one of the tons of lodges that overlook the landscape
for a fishing trip. Off of Auckland
there are wineries and beach resorts, or you could do a helicopter ride to
Milford Sound. After that trip, I can definitely say I specialize in that
Consider a Fam Cruise
Mary Pepides, a travel consultant with Southbury, CT-based
Largay Travel, had the distinct opportunity to taste the good life on a recent seven-day
itinerary with Regent Seven Seas Cruises. "I sailed in Alaska aboard the Regent Seven Seas
Mariner and it was a truly exceptional experience," says Pepides.
"It was wonderful to finally experience first-hand what my clients have
told me about their Seven Seas experiences. I compare the service to that of
Ritz-Carlton: The crew and staff were all genuinely happy and could not do
enough for you," she continues. "I don't believe the word 'no' is in
That's not all she loved, however. "The food was
exquisite, with the feast beginning with the eyes and ending with the palate
and the entertainment was very good, with the 'Krew Kapers' being a real
highlight," gushes Pepides. "The comfort and spaciousness of the suite
with veranda was just luxurious; I especially loved the walk-in closet and the
incredible bed. I was asleep most nights before my husband, and that's unheard
of at home." Each and every detail could help her to sell cruises to her
clients. —Mark Rogers, Dave Eisen and Jennifer Merritt