Slap on your sunscreen and get your cameras out because we’re going to break down one of tourism industry’s most effective marketing and PR tactics for destination promotion: familiarization tours, or FAM tours as they are commonly known.

Travel destinations invite writers, vloggers and influencers to a resort or hotel property with the goal of getting coverage and promotion in their respective publications through a first-person experience. Paige Rosenthal, an account executive at rbb Communications, invited five Toronto-based content creators to Playa Mujeres, Mexico for three days last month to visit two resort properties managed by AMResorts and Cision Canada happened to tag along.

For Rosenthal, running a great FAM tour is about more than finding writers at top publications, but rather curating an experience that content creators will remember.


Less is more.

On top of Rosenthal’s priority list is ensuring the visitor experience is maintained for her guests.

“You don’t want exhaust your visitors,” she said. “You want to give them an authentic experience at the resort and allow them to discover why it special and enjoyable on their own.”

To accomplish this, the last day had no planned activities, other than ensuring attendees got on a shuttle bus to their airport at 1:30 p.m.

“I wanted everyone to have a full morning at the resort to get one last swim in the ocean and another amazing meal,” said Rosenthal.


Curate unique experiences.

BeachFor the featured activities you do plan, make them special.

On a vacation with family or friends it is the experience with each other that truly makes the trip special. On a FAM tour, this needs to be engineered. Rosenthal added a plus one to all her media invites to help build that into the experience. (A vlogger and a travel journalist both brought their mothers on the trip!)

The tour’s first stop: Secrets Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort, a 4.5 star adults-only luxury resort with only 424 rooms and 24-hour unlimited room service. After an initial tour of the property, everyone joined together for dinner at a five-star Italian restaurant. The group activities continued the next morning with a round of golf on a course with ocean views designed by Arnold Palmer, followed by an ocean front brunch.

WiFi is a must.

To help guests share those experience Secrets features extremely high-speed WiFi from the main entrance to the beach. Tour participants shared content live from the golf course, dinners and on the beach itself creating instantly measurable results for Rosenthal, which included more than 120 social mentions by tour participants in four days.

The second stop brought the group to AMResort’s Zoëtry Villa Rolandi Isla Mujeres, an island resort outside of Cancun that can only be accessed by boat. General manager Marco Soria said that his guests couldn’t live without good WiFi.

“In a lot of ways having strong WiFi is more important than running water,” said Soria.

Zoëtry is AMResorts’ expensive and luxurious brand that is dedicated d to wellness and relaxation, a room for a night costs more than $1,000 CAD. Soria said that many of the property’s guests visit to do as little as possible — they want to eat well, watch Netflix at night and relax.

rewardShare hashtags and handles with your guests at all times.

In everyone’s room a printed guide to the social handles, contact names, and the event schedule helped ease content creation and ensured promotions got virtually tied to the respective properties. In some instances the #RewardYourself hashtag appeared on plates of macrons, meal menus, name cards, guide books and promotional items like a towel holder and portable phone charger.

Have fun!

The final strategy that Rosenthal deployed is keeping the focus on fun without guests feeling the need to constantly work.

“I want to help people have fun and I want to connect with them,” said Rosenthal. “If I’m having a good time, it is more likely the group will have a good time.”

Whether it involved a hike through a Mayan ruin or dancing late at night during a Bon Jovi-themed rock concert and circus performance, Rosenthal joined in. She even showed off her gymnastic skills on the golf course to help the group get comfortable.

Up, up, up and away @secretsresorts #rewardyourself #mexico

A photo posted by Paige (@paigerosenthal) on

Influencers and writers want to share unique experiences, beautiful photos and they want to do it instantly. Learn how to pitch perfect, read our guide to attracting attention of influencers and journalists.

About James Rubec

James Rubec is a data geek, a former public relations lead and journalist with a love of content and advocacy. Ask him anything @JamesRRubec and be sure to follow @Cision_Canada

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