Fam trips: Why it is so important for us to learn from other destinations

collaborative tourism
Fam trips: Why it is so important for us to learn from other destinations. The Tourism Space. Images of groups of people in the background with white writing, logo and light blue square border to the foreground.

They have always said that travel broadens the mind. How true this is! When we immerse ourselves into another culture as a tourist and experience a new way of life, culture and tradition, we are expanding our minds and tapping into a new perspective and new way of thinking. Why not use the same approach when it comes to destination development? A fam trip, or familiarisation trip, is a learning visit in which media, influencers, writers or, alternatively, travel trade are invited to a destination to gain a first-hand experience and familiarise themselves with the destination. In this article I am going to specifically refer to the importance of the tourism trade fam trip and emphasise the significance of sharing knowledge and learning from other destinations and how they are managed.


At The Tourism Space, we have curated and facilitated many fam trips. In the past year we have brought a group from the Limerick Kerry Greenway Destination Development Programme to visit the already established Waterford Greenway where information was so generously shared with the group about their experiences of developing their Greenway destination. As part of the Cuilcagh Lakelands Geopark Sustainability Programme we hosted a group here in County Clare, in the West of Ireland, where they gained insights on how to be a more sustainable destination through visiting the internationally-known Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark and meeting members of the award-winning Burren Ecotourism Network. We have also organised many internal fam trips and have seen the benefits of how stakeholders within a destination learn about their own place. We love organising fam trips because we can see the impact they have on both those who are visiting and those hosting. For those hosting it instills a sense of pride in their place and their practices. For those who are visiting we can see the inspirational impact they have, the excitement of returning home to share the news of what they have learned and how they visualise ways in which they could implement similar practices within their own destinations.


So why is it important to learn about other destinations and why are fam trips one of the most effective ways to do so?


First-Hand Experience

On a fam trip, you will meet stakeholders of the destination who have had a key input into how their place has been developed. You will gain first-hand information on location about important topics such as what went well for them and what ideas and practices weren’t as successful. Core themes that have arisen on the fam trips that we have organised are the concepts of collaboration and community engagement and involvement.


Broadening Networks and Connection With Others

Not only are fam trips a way of getting to know a destination and its developmental phases and practices, it is also a networking opportunity. It is a chance to connect with others who you wouldn’t normally have the chance to connect with. This may be someone who owns a similar business to you or your peer in a different agency or organisation. It is an invaluable event to broaden your network. On top of that, it is an opportunity to strengthen relationships with the stakeholders of your own group, network or organisation that join you on the trip.


Fresh and New Perspectives

Through meeting your peers in another destination, you gain insights into their way of thinking, methods and processes implemented on their journey. It can sometimes be a form of re-discovery, gaining fresh perspectives to destination development. This can give you inspiration for your own destination and enthusiasm and confidence through visualising what could be for your place.


Peer Learning and Knowledge Sharing

Learning from stakeholders in other destinations more established than yours allows you to learn from those further down the line. Peer learning is by far one of the most practical ways to learn and through the fam trip you will acquire information about the processes the host destination has used and the journey the stakeholders have gone on to get where they are.


Tips for you before participating on a FAM trip:

  1. Research the destination, businesses and sites you will be visiting and the developments they have made.
  2. Find out who you will be meeting and investigate the areas in which they work.
  3. Prepare questions you might want to ask those who you will meet. You may only have a certain amount of time with each stakeholder so it is best to make the most out of the opportunity you have with them.
  4. When on location, aim to get contact details or ways in which to connect with those you have met to further follow up and ask questions if they arise after your trip
  5. Extra tip (in particular if you are partaking in a fam trip to Ireland): Prepare for the weather if part of your trip takes place in the outdoors. As always, planning and preparing for any visit, especially if it is outdoors, truly comes as a benefit and aids us in making the most of a trip and making it more enjoyable. The correct attire always comes in handy. After all, I am an Accredited Leave No Trace Trainer and try my best to raise awareness of the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace where I can.

A Fam Trip is most certainly not a holiday, however not unlike a holiday it is a chance to disconnect from your locality and visualise another way of thinking and doing. It is important to learn from other destinations for this sole reason. To promote openness, to gain a new perspective and to learn ‘from the horse's mouth’ the do’s and don'ts for developing your own tourism destination.


Aoibheann Boyle


If you would like to arrange a fam trip for your destination and would like guidance on what is involved or would like to know more about how we can facilitate one for you, you can get in touch at [email protected].

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