The Value of a Well-Executed Fam Trip

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. 

Rick Etherson

"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."

Trudy Lagerman

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 country."

Consider a Fam Cruise

 Mary PepidesMary Pepides, a travel consultant with Southbury, CT-based Largay Travel, had the distinct opportunity to taste the good life on a recent seven-day Alaska 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 their vocabulary."

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

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