Top ten tips on hosting a successful famil: A Port Macquarie famil study

Recently Destination North Coast hosted the second of our four major famils for the year with resounding success. This case study has been designed to share with you our learnings throughout the process so that you, the reader may learn from as a future participant or organiser of your own famil.

A famil, (not family as my autocorrect keeps referring to) is an abbreviation of the word familiarisation; as defined as “the action or process of gaining knowledge or understanding of something”. One of the best ways to do this is have our clients personally experience the products, services and people of a destination, in this case, visit one of our key destinations on the North Coast – stunning Port Macquarie.

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3 minute video

From 5th – 7th September, Destination North Coast hosted a small group of Business Event Managers from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne to showcase the best of what regional NSW has to offer.

When hosting such an event it important to focus on your points of difference and what makes your destination truly special. This event allowed us to showcase what many have described as Australia’s best climate, a rich diversity of product and experiences and to highlight the benefits of conducting events in a naturally beautiful and relaxed region. This methodology provided potential event managers with a point of difference from other destinations and the confidence that they would be delivering memorable events with first class service and facilities.

Supported by industry, Port Macquarie Hastings Council and Port Macquarie airport, delegates enjoyed activities as varied as camel rides along Lighthouse Beach, a moving cultural experience in Sea Acres Rainforest, amazing whale encounters with Port Jet, cuddly encounters at Koala Hospital and even got lost at Bago Maze and Winery!

They were also treated to some amazing local fare and ho​spitality for dinner at Rydges Zebu Restaurant and The Stunned Mullet, as well as morning tea at Ricardoes Tomatoes and decadent lunches at Douglas Vale Vineyard, Sails by Rydges and Port Panthers. Quality site inspections rounded off the delegate experience and were held at Waters Edge, Rydges, Sails by Rydges, The Glasshouse, Port Panthers and Mercure Centro. A truly amazing experience for all involved.

Delegates were escorted by Destination North Coast Business Events Executive as well as a local council representative via Port Bus private shuttle. The entire famil was filmed by The Bakery Media with a 60 second and 3 minute promotional video produced that can be used to support future business opportunities and conference proposals.

Given the importance of this business development opportunity, we thought we would share with you Top 10 Tips when hosting or participating in your next famil.

Should this appeal to you as an Event Manager or EA who organises corporate events, we would also invite you to register for our next series of famils being held in The Tweed and Byron Bay.

Please visit our website to register your interest or contact me directly on details below.

Rebecca Morley
Business Events Executive
Destination North Coast
M: 0401 720 120

Ten Top Tips for a Successful Famil – From Organisers Perspective

  1. Understand that your delegates’ time is precious so be clear to include what you have to offer – showcasing the best of the best of your experiences, products, services and most importantly, your people!
  2. Target and qualify those event managers / decision makers who have vested interest in your destination and have the capacity to produce business for your specific destination. Famils can be criticised for being ‘junkets’ – this can’t happen if you have done your qualifying homework.
  3. When considering the agenda organise a relaxed, yet spectacular agenda with enough time and space for delegates to check in with the office and rest – there is nothing worse than people feeling overly scheduled and stressed out because you are trying to cram in every including the kitchen sink!
  4. Be clear and set expectations from the get go. This means having a clear outline of what is included in the “hosting” of the famil and communicating the expectation from the initial communication and reinforcing throughout the registration process, official welcome, housekeeping, survey and follow up. Most of all though, have fun throughout the process. If you don’t enjoy yourself, your delegates certainly won’t. The idea is to leave on a positive note that sets you up for a follow up call acknowledging how the destination experience was so appealing and how this could provide a wonderful option for their guests.
  5. Organise and communicate in a professional and timely manner and pay particular attention to special requests including special dietary requirements and preferred tea and coffee orders that can be communicated in advance.
  6. Create some surprises throughout the agenda that delegates don’t know about until they get into region just to keep the excitement alive. It is an occupational hazard for Event managers to want to know the enth degree of detail on everything – it’s nice to allow them some surprises in their down time!
  7. Make sure that everyone involved in the exercise (from local council to transport provider) have been fully briefed and understands the purpose of the famil ie. why delegates are there and in what capacity their product/service is being presented. This also means that they understand the need to adhere to the timetable and have venues ready and set up to be viewed. The person showing the group around should also be the one who can answer specific questions around the event side of the business ie. Capacity, function offerings, AV etc.
  8. Provide opportunity for Welcome to Country ceremony to take place and invite VIPs from council, regional organisations and other key stakeholders to gala dinners so that they have options to interact with delegates and understand how others perceive their destination.
  9. If budget allows provide opportunity for professional photographers and videographers to follow the group. Ensure that talent releases are filled in and that the group understand where the footage will be used. Make sure you can turn this footage around quickly as it is a nice way to sit down at the end of the famil and recap as a group send off! Encourage all of the delegates and hosts to share across all channels – a combined effort is a powerful one and shows proof of collaboration!
  10. Provide the option for post famil survey to be completed in a timely manner (no longer than one week after the famil) with results being sent to venues about how their organisation was received and how feedback can offer an opportunity to make improvements. Also take the opportunity to share results with key stakeholders in region as well as with industry bodies such as Executive PA, with other clients and of course, PR agencies who can help spread the positive messages and outcomes from the famil.


Ten Top Tips for a Successful Famil – From Delegate Perspective


  1. Understand that you are special, that you have been potentially chosen over others because of the value you offer and the potential your business can provide to this destination. A famil is not a holiday, it is not a free for all, not an opportunity to get you out of the office – it is a credible opportunity for you to experience what you ultimately want your delegates/staff to experience and enjoy on their next business event. It’s your professional reputation on the line so it’s important to get it right, right?
  2. Try not to bring any preconceived ideas onto your famil. It’s easy to do with many saying, “I used to visit here when I was a child” or “I have wonderful memories of holidays here with my hubby”. Try and view the experience from your client or staff perspective – ask yourself how would this experience translate for my next business event and my delegates?
  3. Be open to trying some new experiences. We appreciate this might be difficult to go outside your comfort zone – for example I would struggle if asked to jump into a helicopter as I have a fear of heights! Your famil host is not going to put you in any danger or embarrass you in front of the group but will certainly encourage you to participate wherever possible. Remember your delegates/staff are as varied as the activities that will be available so give it all a go if you can!
  4. Please be considerate when asked to supply information for administrative purposes such as registrations, talent releases, preferred flight times and/or special needs. As you can appreciate when famil hosts are organising a group who are not known to each other, it is best to have this information secured in a timely manner so that they can communicate to wider group of stakeholders in the destination. Communication is key!
  5. Please be responsible for your own actions – we are all adults and don’t need a babysitter on famils. Whilst your famil host is there to assist – you are responsible in your own right to make your own way to catch flights, manage your comments in a friendly and constructive way, interact with other delegates in a non competitive way, pay your way for things that are not included in the famil and manage your alcohol consumption at lunches and dinners. Nothing worse than having to apologise for untoward behaviour.
  6. Please be aware of the cultural significance of the Welcome to Country ceremony and any storytelling, cultural activities that are shared from the local Aboriginal community. This is a sacred exercise, the time to show respect; not the time to answer phone calls (or even have the mobile phone switched on), or pass comment – just be present in the experience as they can be very moving and powerful.
  7. Your feedback is priceless! As a trusted resource, operators will be looking for feedback on their products, services and the experience they offer – you are considered an industry expert and will be asked to share your feedback either via survey or in person with organisations so it’s important to take note of things that you can see businesses are doing well and how they might improve.
  8. Help spread the word on your experience wherever possible. Most famils will follow up with photos and/or video or your experiences. Please feel free to share across your personal and business channels referencing correct hashtags if they were provided.
  9. Please fill in the post famil survey. We suggest no longer than one week after it has been sent to you so that feedback is fresh. Be honest with your feedback, not nasty – everyone is trying to improve their operations for the benefit of future delegates and business events and this is your opportunity to play a part in that important process.
  10. Nothing says thank you and affirms a positive experience like booking a conference or business event into region off the back of the famil. It is what your destination stakeholders will be aspiring to and even if you aren’t in a position to do this straight away communicating timelines and future interest is always appreciated. If you are not in a position to give business immediately, think of other positive ways you can contribute back to your host destination… these might include sharing your positive experience with colleagues and peers, providing donation to local charity or Aboriginal cultural program, or simply spreading the word on how much you enjoyed your time in region.