Dear FAM Trip Participant:
According to a leading travel industry website, “FAM” (short for FAMiliarization) trips are offered and arranged – usually by a travel vendor such as a hotel, for example – to give you (the person in charge of booking the travel on behalf of your employer) “a better understanding of [a hotel’s] accommodations and allows you to visit a destination and gain first hand knowledge … They [FAM trips] are an entertaining way for you to scout
the perfect setting for your employer’s next event, trip or destination.”
Since personal assistants work so hard, FAM trips are a wonderful business perk to offset some of the chores that come with the territory.
When you, as a member are fortunate enough – through the ACPA to be selected to experience a FAM trip – you should by all means enjoy the opportunities extended to you. A FAM trip is a BUSINESS TRIP and as such, there are four things that you must keep in mind at all times during and after the FAM trip:
- You Represent Yourself
- You Represent The ACPA
- You Represent Your Employer
- Your Behavior Reflects Upon Your Fellow FAM Trip Partners
The minute you accept an invitation for a free stay at a hotel, you automatically become a good-will ambassador for the ACPA and your employer. The
way you conduct yourself before, during and after the FAM trip reflects not just on you, but upon the organization of which you are a member and the person or company that employs you.
This is not a personal vacation without any obligations. You, along with the other ACPA members on the trip, are part of a team of highly professional personal assistants who must be ready to behave accordingly in front of your host(s) and the hotel staff.
WHAT IS EXPECTED OF YOU
Commitment to the FAM Trip
Coordinating a FAM trip is a stressful and time-consuming project for the hotel representatives and the ACPA Board of Directors and/or Trip Coordinat
or. It is imperative that whoever enters into a drawing for a FAM trip is prepared to commit (barring unforeseen emergencies) to attend the FAM trip. There have been problems in the past when ACPA members have backed out of a FAM trip at the last minute due to schedule conflicts or personal situations. If a member (aware of his/her own working schedule) knows in advance that he/she cannot commit on the day of the drawing (due to the nature of his/her job) he/she should NOT enter the drawing for the FAM trip. It unfairly prevents another member (whose schedule is less problematic) from having the opportunity to win the trip.
Handle your business
As the FAM trip date approaches, ACPA members participating may have to let either the ACPA Trip Coordinator or the hotel and/or airline representatives (or all three depending on the circumstances) know certain vital information. It is important for the ACPA member to respond in a timely manner to requests for information, communicate it accurately and with as few phone calls or emails as possible. If there are issues that are not clear, or questions that need to be answered, of course feel free to contact the appropriate party. Try to limit it to a minimum, as the people arranging the trip will have a tremendous amount of coordinating to handle.
Another thing to keep in mind: if the FAM trip involves international travel, it goes without saying that your passport must be up-to-date. This is strictly your responsibility. In the past, we have had last minute situations due to a member who “forgot” to renew his or her passport a day or two before the FAM trip. This created needless stress on all parties involved. Please make sure you are prepared to travel.
Be aware of the FAM trip itinerary
The hotel and its representatives are going to want to meet you and your fellow ACPA members and give you a tour of their property, its facilities and amenities. This is the precise reason that you have been invited to the hotel. Your attendance is mandatory. This is an obligation that you should be prepared to fulfill. The ACPA Trip Coordinator will advise you of the details, but it is your responsibility to remain aware of when your presence will be required.
Be on time
Please do not make your traveling partners wait at the airport for your arrival. It’s difficult to keep track of everyone, you should allow enough time to get to airport and meet at the designated location. Once you arrive at the hotel, a meal or reception(s) may be on the agenda. You will be informed by the ACPA Trip Coordinator regarding where you should be and when. It is your responsibility once you’ve received the information however, to make sure no matter what, that you stick to the itinerary. There will be periods of free time, of course, but you are responsible to know when your presence is required for a scheduled event and arrive promptly and be prepared to make a positive impression.
Behave in a professional manner
It goes without saying that you should present as positive of an impression as possible in public. Your hosts are sizing you up and considering whether their (sometimes sizeable) investment in you for this trip is worth their expense. And they have often gone to considerable cost, time and trouble to offer you a trip that will make a positive impression on you about what their company has to offer. By the same token, they will also form an impression of your employer through the information that you divulge. Please be aware that the FAM trip is neither the time nor the place to air embarrassing details about your employer, co-workers or any grievances you might have about your job, your salary, your employer’s habits and demands, etc. It is not appropriate to discuss these issues! This is a business excursion–your financial and personal difficulties are not your host’s problem. Please keep this in mind when in the presence of the FAM trip host(s).
Sloppy dress or overly provocative attire at a formal business function is unacceptable. While we all work in a field that allows everyone from the boss on down to express him or herself however he or she likes in personal clothing style, for the most part remember your host(s) work in a more business environment and dress accordingly at events.
Be gracious and appreciative
Remember that you are a guest of the hotel. While your employer may someday visit the hotel as a guest, they will be a paying customer and their indiscretions will be overlooked. Yours will not. The hotel and its staff are well aware that you are a non-paying guest, and as such, it is a good idea (certainly not required) to show your gratitude if you receive great service, to tip the doorman, housekeeping, bell hops, porters, etc. If money is a problem, at least attempt to be pleasant to the staff. In the past, we have had embarrassing situations where our members were excessively demanding and difficult, and it reflected poorly upon the group as a whole.
At the conclusion of the FAM Trip, the ACPA Board and/or FAM Trip Coordinator will follow up with a formal letter to acknowledge the hospitality of the FAM trip host(s). We have made a practice of offering a token gift of appreciation to the host(s) collectively from the FAM trip participants. Again, this is not required, but it is more meaningful for the host(s) to receive a gift from the members that they have now met and interacted with; in lieu of a donation to the gift, an ACPA FAM trip participant is welcome to limit their contribution to a card or note – again, not mandatory.
Hopefully, the ACPA FAM trip will be a wonderful adventure and enable you to make good travel choices and useful connections for your employer in the future, based on your first-hand experience. Through the FAM trip, you will get to know your ACPA travel partners better and on a personal basis. You will also be able to share what you’ve learned on the FAM trip with other ACPA members.
ACPA Board of Directors