When FAMs Go Virtual

Blog > Industry News

When FAMs Go Virtual

By Michael Pinchera | Apr 17, 2020

How are destinations engaging with and informing planners during this strange time in which FAM trips, like most face-to-face gatherings, simply cannot happen? One CVB took a curious tact by offering a “virtual FAM” as a creative way to reach out to planners.

“Home with the FAM – An RACVB Virtual FAM Tour,” showcased some of the cultural and venue options around Rockford, Ill., just south of the Wisconsin border. Hosted by the Rockford Area CVB, partner venues for the FAM included the BMO Harris Bank Center and Coronado Performing Arts Center, Embassy Suites by Hilton Rockford Riverfront and Rockford Conference Center, Mercyhealth Sportscore Complexes and Indoor Sports Center and the UW Health Sports Factory.

Essentially a live webinar/video call in fresh packaging, nearly 80 meeting professionals—planners, industry media, reps from other CVBs—joined the experience via Zoom and Facebook Live on April 17, just before lunch time, from locations as diverse as Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Germany.

Representatives—including Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara and Rockford Area CVB President and CEO John Groh—broadcasted from various locations around the city. For instance, Lindsey Arellano, the CVB’s vice president of sales & service, was live from Mercyhealth Sportscore Two at an indoor soccer field, which is also used for trade shows and a variety of events. Then a few moments later—zap!—and the viewer was connected to a live feed from inside the BMO Harris Bank Center in downtown Rockford, receiving the same type of tour (albeit abbreviated) one would encounter during an in-person site visit. Then a sneak peek from the Embassy Suites by Hilton Rockford Riverfront—the city’s newest hotel property, slated to open this summer.

Like with others in the industry, elements of the Rockford meeting industry were on track for a record-breaking year—until the coronavirus. Yet, the destination is ensuring it’s ready for guests once the business travel world re-opens.

There were added incentives to join the hour-long broadcast: beyond simply learning about the destination, planners were entered into three drawings for $50 restaurant gift cards—and any attendee of the virtual FAM who contracts with one of Rockford’s participating venues within four weeks will receive a rebate based on actualized room nights.

If you missed this presentation, you can watch a recording on the FAM’s webpage, which will be posted shortly.



Michael Pinchera

Michael Pinchera is an award-winning writer and editor for The Meeting Professional as well as a speaker, technologist and contributor to business, academic and pop culture publications since 1997. Read more of his work at www.whatmemeworry.com.