Familiarising the trade with your product

Whether you want to showcase your product to potential partners, or ensure the travel trade is selling your product effectively, knowing how to make the most of familiarisation trips, sales calls and staff training is essential.

A group of people on a familiarisation trip crouching in front of Betty's Cafe Tea Rooms in Yorkshire

Familiarisation visits

Familiarisation visits (or fam-trips as they’re also known) enable incoming tour operators, travel agents and other members of the travel trade to experience your product firsthand. Whether it’s providing highly targeted exposure for your products, or promoting them directly to the people who will ultimately be selling them to consumers, fam-trips are a valuable way of spreading the word about your product with the international market.

Sales calls

Keeping in contact with your distribution partners is essential for building strong relationships and generating business opportunities. Designing a strategy and schedule for your sales calls will help you to take a proactive approach, ensuring you don’t call when you’re not welcome, or inundate your partners with calls.

Make sure your sales calls find their mark:

  • Plan your calls for times you know are going to be convenient for the person you’re calling, especially if you’re making international sales calls. Avoid arranging calls during busy holiday times and be aware of potential clashes with events such as major trade shows
  • Cold calling is rarely appreciated, so plan your sales calls well in advance. As a courtesy, confirm your call with the distributor before it takes place
  • Consider carefully the form your call should take – face-to-face, video-conference, or on the phone
  • If you set a time to call, ensure you keep to it
  • Do your homework. If you are well versed about the distributor you’re calling, it makes a good impression. Similarly, have the figures to hand of your recent and past business with the person you’re calling, it’s often useful when negotiating for new business
  • Research cultural customs – respecting those small cultural differences can make all the difference
  • Make a written record of everything discussed, and ensure you fulfil your side of the deal. Communicate your agreements after the call to ensure there’s a record, and that you share the same understanding of what you’ve agreed

Staff training

Staff training presentation with VisitBritain branded map of Britain on a flip chart

Investing in product training for your distribution partners will help them sell it more effectively.

Think about the context in which the agent will sell your product and the other products they might want to feature at the same time. Consider the broader picture for the traveller, bearing in mind their likely travel arrangements, accommodation needs and activities nearby, and consider engaging others in these areas in your training package.

To ensure your training is impactful:

  • Keep your training as simple and interesting as possible, and communicate all the key information about your product
  • Understand your audience and what they need to know in order to do their jobs. Appeal to their needs and it’s more likely they will remember what you tell them
  • Let staff know where else your product features, whether it’s part of a broader campaign, or in a brochure
  • Schedule your training for times that are going to be attractive for the majority of people you want to train. As with sales calls, keep in mind when people are likely to be taking their own holidays
  • Consider the practicalities – ensure you have enough materials for all the people you’re going to train. And remember, biscuits, teas and coffees always go down well!