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Familiarization Trip Etiquette

Etiquette tips to help you navigate these luxurious business sojourns and pump up your career

The familiarization trip is the best way to learn what a destination has to offer. But properly navigating these luxurious business sojourns is an art and a science. Here are some tips from the pros.

1. To Go or Not to Go. “A lot of time and expense goes into these educational programs and should only be attended by those who have a market to sell them to,” says Audrey Esar, vice-president of meetings and events for Vision 2000 in Saint-Laurent, Que. “You don’t want to take the place of someone who can offer it to their clients on a regular basis.”

2. Do Your Research. Know at least a bit about your destination and venue before getting there. Sharing a nice bit of local trivia at your arrival dinner will make you shine to organizers.

3. Look Alive! “Show interest in the properties that are being shown,” says Susan Prophet, director, meetings, conventions & incentive travel for Destination Québec, and 2009 President - SITE Canada Chapter. “Take photos, notes, ask questions and interact with the suppliers who are presenting their products—all are examples of good etiquette.”

4. Feedback Matters. “Give us useful feedback in the evaluations process,” says Bonnie Boyd, CMP, DMCP, president of BBC Destination Management in New Orleans, La. “If something is great, let us know! If something needs improving, let us know! If there is something negative tell us so we can correct it.”

5. Honour the Plan. As one expert commented (who asked to remain anonymous) “Always attend meetings, functions and tours set up by the hosts no matter how tired you are, or even if the subject is not of personal interest. It’s common courtesy. They paid for you to attend!”

6. Tips on Tipping. Always a point of awkwardness for Fam attendees, the veterans say it’s prudent to ask your organizer upfront about what’s appropriate on your trip. Meal gratuities are generally covered, as are many spa treatments, but bellhops and drivers may not be. And extra great service is always worthy of a tip, say the pros.

7. Have Fun...But Not Too Much. “These programs are great networking opportunities and perhaps not the place to show just how many drinks you can manage to consume in one evening!” says Esar.

8. Give Back to the Destination. “Spend money in our shops, museums, restaurants and venues. This is true sustainability for any destination,” says Boyd.

9. Give Thanks—In Writing! When’s the last time you wrote a thank-you note with your own handwriting and sent it by mail? There’s a buzz going around the industry that proper thank-you notes have gone the way of the dodo bird. Doing it old-school—with some cool note cards and a meaningful message–is memorable and carries amazing weight with organizers.

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