FAM Trips: great opportunity for travel industry newbies
The location this year will be Quito, Ecuador. Forty-one years ago, William H. Coleman, Inc. created the unique venue to provide Marketing, Advertising, and Public Relations services for Travel to Latin America.
The company also launched the first Rendez-Vous for Canadian Tourism products. Like TMLA, the location rotates. Both events have grown to become staggeringly successful appointment-based tourism marketplaces.
In addition to re-connecting with one’s overseas land team is the exposure to new products and innovations. And, another lure is the opportunity for pre or post Familiarization trips. Many of the suppliers offer a chance to experience their new or established programs at complimentary or deeply discounted prices. This can include transportation, accommodation, meals and a variety of touring. Browsing through the FAM opportunities reveal that this year’s offerings include visits to all four of the Geographical regions of Ecuador. Realizing that I am double booked for the event, I offered the opportunity to Michelle Gadd, our new digital marketing specialist, and begin to help her sift through the array of choices of industry perks.
There is a five-day cruise in the Galapagos Islands. Tempting for anyone interested in Natural history. She would be travelling on a 20-passenger motorboat, cruising between the thirteen major Islands and six smaller ones that make up the Galapagos Archipelago land and marine reserve. It is an experience that I have enjoyed on three previous visits and I am excited for her.
Some of my other recommendations to her would be a visit to Machallila National Park on the Pacific Coast three hours north of Guayaquil (where one of the two Ecuadorian International airports is located). Here, a delightful and colorful adobe-style lodge named Mantaraya sits on a cliff overlooking gorgeous, un-crowded beaches ideal for swimming and paddle sports. Offshore, marine mammals abound including sea lions and humpback whales whose journey from the Antarctic brings them to share these tropical waters from June to October with their new calves.
The new conference venue in Quito lies in the Andean region. The Andes boasts two UNESCO World Heritage sites, Quito and Cuenca. It will be wonderful for Michelle to feel the reverence of these ancient structures, filled with priceless artifacts and history. Colonial architecture, incomparable Catholic churches with ornate altars and countless museums can fill several days. Colourful markets are held in a variety of towns North and South of Quito. Several of the FAM’s take place in the Andes and include hiking, biking, rides on historic trains, touring by the Avenue of the Volcanoes (eleven snow-capped volcanoes some still active).
I encourage her to visit one of the cloud forests on the Eastern edge of the mountains to search for some of the country’s 1600 bird species and maybe a few monkeys. And for relaxation, there is Papallacta hot springs, a magical thermal oasis at a high pass before the road dips into Amazonas. One can continue from Papallacta down into the Amazon basin. Alternatively flying into Coca to stay jungle lodge or board one of the 4 – 7 night floating lodges that traverse the Rio Napo
While some of the tourism expositions are being replaced by virtual formats, It is hard to replace the connection to people and place that physical conferences provide. And for someone just starting out in the industry – a genuine perk.