Yesterday, DCI revealed several top tips for hosting a successful familiarization (FAM) tour during our webinar, “When Site Selectors Come to Visit: 8 Tips for a Memorable FAM Tour.”
In case you missed the tips from our panelists, Susie Webb, a senior coordinator with the occupier services group at Cassidy Turley, and Elisabeth Kulinski, a senior associate with the indirect tax credits and incentives group at Ernst & Young, we’ve recapped them here. Please click on each tip to access additional details.
In an upcoming blog, we’ll also share the questions and answers that were asked and discussed during the webinar session.
Since site selectors receive dozens of invitations for FAM tours and events throughout the year, it is important to make your invitation stand out and include key components that will catch site selectors’ attention, such as:
- The Date: It’s very important to reach out to site selectors about the FAM tour roughly three to four months in advance, since their schedules fill up fast. Even if you don’t have all of the details, a “save the date” invitation can be very effective, especially if you follow up as the trip approaches.
- Meetings with Key Spokespeople: Include the names and titles of the leaders with whom the site selectors will be meeting, such as your governor, mayor, CEOs of major companies in your area, etc.;
- A Sample Schedule: This allows site selectors to get a feel for what the itinerary entails, the pace of the trip and the types of companies and organizations that will be part of the FAM tour;
- A Unique, Fun, Quality of Life Activity: Will they attend a sporting event, visit a winery or take a special trip to a key tourist attraction?
The hotel you chose will typically be the first place site selectors stop when they arrive in your community, so it is important to be sure the accommodations you choose leave the best first impression. If possible, choose a hotel that is conveniently located near where most of the FAM tour meetings will take place and also showcases some of the top assets of your community, whether that’s a water view or a quaint downtown. Since site selectors are on the road so often, it is important to be sure they are comfortable, and the hotel is conducive to business travelers.
Food and meals are also an important element during your FAM tour. As you plan meals, think about cuisine and restaurants that are unique to your region, whether it is fresh seafood or great craft beer. Incorporating food that is unique to your location helps make the trip more interesting and memorable – just be sure to give options and take dietary restrictions into consideration.
A welcome packet is a great way to arm site selectors with information about your community before the tour gets started. A welcome packet might include:
- FAM tour itinerary;
- Articles about your region;
- Brochures/marketing materials;
- A letter from your mayor, governor or high-level economic development official.
While it is not required, consider giving the site selectors a welcome gift from your region that fits within your budget. Something iconic that is made in your region or a truly unique item can leave a lasting impression when site selectors see it on their desk or in their home.
Here are some examples of what a few communities have done in the past:
- Southwest Michigan gave site selectors KitchenAid mixers; KitchenAid is a brand of Whirlpool, which is headquartered in Benton Harbor, Mich.;
- Memphis, Tenn., gave out Elvis glasses and gear;
- Salinas, Calif., gave out books by John Steinbeck, who was born in Salinas and wrote many of his books about the area.
1. Politicians, like your mayor or governor
Meetings with this group can truly make your community stand out and leave a lasting impression. As you arrange meetings with government officials, try to keep them intimate if possible, so that site selectors have the opportunity to ask questions and have an interactive conversation.
For example, South Dakota recently arranged for their governor to have lunch with a group of visiting site selectors, and it was truly an invaluable opportunity for the site selectors to get the governor’s perspective.
2. Business leaders, including CEOs and high-level executives, from your biggest industry clusters and employers
Making connections with business leaders should also be a key component of your FAM tour. Choose leaders who can serve as great ambassadors and champions of your region, but can also speak honestly about your region’s business climate, workforce, strengths and challenges.
You’ll also want to consider arranging meetings with business leaders who might be difficult for site selectors to access on their own, like the CEO or a high-level executive from your city’s biggest employer.
3. High level representatives from your economic development organization
This is your opportunity to form lasting and personal relationships with the visiting site selectors, along with the chance to showcase your organization. There is no substitute for site selectors getting to know you and building face-to-face relationships.
With this in mind, it is crucial that at least one high-level representative from your organization be present throughout the entire tour if possible. The leaders of your organization know the community’s business climate and assets better than anyone else, so can provide both a birds’ eye view and detailed information.
As you put together your FAM tour itinerary, you should aim to include these types of assets:
- Research facilities
- Biggest employers
- Manufacturing operations
As you think about which companies to highlight, choose companies that are growing or have a unique story. You’ll also want to give site selectors a well-rounded taste of your key industries by showcasing companies in a few different sectors.
Depending on site selector feedback, you can also consider incorporating some of your available real estate into the tour. Visiting site selectors may have a client that could be a great fit for one of your available buildings.
Since many site selectors can only attend a few FAM tours a year, an exciting quality of life asset can set your FAM tour apart and make it more enticing. Simply stated, including quality of life activities makes your FAM tour more fun.
In addition, quality of life can be a key consideration in headquarters location decisions, so allowing site selectors to experience your tourism attractions and quality of life firsthand can help them relay more than just numbers to their clients.
As you consider when to host your FAM tour, it is generally best to avoid weekends, but if possible, schedule the trip so that site selectors have the opportunity to stay the weekend, if they’d like. Some site selectors might want to extend their stay and explore more of your tourism assets on their own.
As you put together your FAM tour itinerary, keep in mind that you should show site selectors as much as possible, but also incorporate a little downtime. Providing a break for emails or phone calls allows site selectors to be better focused during the meetings and tour. In addition, it is important to be accommodating if site selectors have an urgent client matter that arises during the FAM tour.
It is critical to continue to foster the relationships you create with site selectors during your FAM tour. Here are a few great ways to follow up:
- Send a Post-Tour Survey: Consider sending a short survey to get feedback on what worked well, what they thought of your community and what projects or industries they might see as a fit for your region. Hearing their perspective could help you discover something new about your industry clusters and will help you improve FAM tours in the future.
- Add FAM Tour Attendees to Your Newsletter Distribution List: Or send them personalized email updates when appropriate.
- Follow Up By Phone: An occasional phone call is another great way to maintain a strong relationship.
Check out the Slideshare embedded below to view the full presentation, and if you’re interested in a recording of the presentation email Rachel.Deloffre@aboutdci.com.