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Virtual Familiarization Trips: FAMTripTV

Sit back, relax and pull out the popcorn while your virtual host does all the legwork

Fitting in a FAM trip can be a challenge for the time-crunched meeting planner. And there are costs to consider: not just dollars spent, but environmental costs, too. Is there a better way?

You bet. FAMTripTV, which was launched in December 2009 by Jennifer Wood, CMP, president of Convene Inc. and co-owner of Toronto film production company Tellavision, lets event planners virtually explore select destinations from the comfort of their own office.

In each 30- to 45-minute broadcast-quality HDTV episode, Wood takes meeting planners on a behind-the-scenes tour of recommended hotels, venues and meeting facilities, as well as local cultural activities and excursions—from a helicopter ride in Niagara, Ont. to a jazz cruise down the Mississippi River.

“Through the show, planners will see things that will either pique their interest, or make them realize it can be taken off the table,” says Wood, executive producer and host. “Fewer flights are wasted on unqualified leads or destinations that don’t fit the event objectives, thus reducing the carbon footprint from flights and the necessary ground travel to shuttle FAM guests around.”

What’s more, by posting the footage for free online, it limits paper waste by direct mailings, she says.

Within each episode, Wood reveals the details that meeting planning professionals need to know: everything from meeting space square footage and orientation, technological capacity and room inventory, as well as insider-scoop details—like her experience at the airport or the noise levels poolside. She also highlights green meeting initiatives, such as Green Key eco-ratings or a commitment to sourcing local.

FAMTripTV may also function as a catalyst. “Planners can use it to trigger dialogue between the destination and their clients whereby the host could initiate their own FAM to explore in greater depth and detail,” Wood says.

To date, Wood has produced four episodes in Ottawa, Niagara, New Orleans and Banff/ Lake Louise, with four new destinations clamouring for a spot in 2011.

Says Wood, “If a picture says a thousand words, a professionally filmed video that can be paused, cross-referenced and visually compared speaks volumes.”

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