When event industry professionals are already traveling to a destination for a trade show or conference, tourist boards and venues have an ideal opportunity to familiarize them with the destination. A pre-fam trip can be a value-added experience that conference and trade-show organizers offer their members.
Because travel expenses are covered already, a pre-fam trip can be organized at a fraction of the cost of a standalone fam trip. Here are a few things to keep in mind to help them run smoothly.
1. Focus on a particular area of town so more venues fit into the itinerary. A recent pre-fam trip in Toronto for Ignite Business Event Expo focused on venues along Toronto’s airport strip and in East Mississauga.
2. It’s always best to stick with one hotel for accommodations. Event planners need a home base and constantly packing and changing venues eats up time.
3. If possible, include a cultural or heritage site on the itinerary. This gives attendees a real feel for the destination.
4. Make it fun. Part of a destination’s appeal is what activities event planners can build into their programs. For a pre-fam trip to IMEX Frankfurt, for example, participants did a Segway tour. For the recent Ignite Business Event Expo, planners participated in a cake-decorating contest after dinner at the Toronto Congress Centre, took in the season opener for baseball’s Blue Jays and went indoor skydiving at i-Fly Toronto.
5. Use the talents of hotel team members to create excitement with the unexpected. During a lunch at the International Plaza Hotel in Toronto during the Ignite Business Event Expo Pre-Fam, a man burst into song out of sight. When he entered the room, it turned out to be the Guest Relations Director, who had greeted us singing “The Music of the Night” from Phantom of the Opera.
6. Invite suppliers to attend some of the social events. This is an opportunity for them to bond with the event planners.
7. Build a buffer into the itinerary. Site inspections invariably take longer than anticipated. It’s really important to keep this in mind when planning the itinerary.
8. Build in time for attendees to check emails and calls from suppliers and clients. Remember that business doesn’t stop just because you’re on the road. Once event planners have an opportunity to take care of business, you’ll have their full attention. Try to schedule this after breakfast because once you’re on the road, delays could wipe out this time entirely. Suggestion: 30-45 minutes daily.
9. Don’t overpack the agenda. Participants need downtime and rest. Expand the break to two hours on the second or third morning so they can relax.
10. Don’t go too late at night. You want attendees to get a good rest so they’re refreshed and ready to see the next day’s venues.
11. Think through travel logistics. If event planners are receiving a lot of gifts, perhaps arrange to have them shipped home or provide a box so that they can pack them easily.
12. Arrange for late checkout. Also, move the group to the trade-show or conference location the afternoon or night before the event.
Photos by Toronto Event Planning, Executive Oasis International