The first Mega FAM from ALG Vacations is a hit with travel advisors

The first ALG Vacations Pros on the Go mega FAM was a resounding success with travel advisors. With 150 travel advisors in attendance, the event took place April 9-12 in Cancun/Riviera Maya at various resorts and included educational workshops, team-building exercises, multi-site inspections and a give-back component.

“Previously, our events department would schedule upwards of twenty or more escorted FAMs each year, which, as you can imagine, is a lot of man-hours. The mega FAMs have the same number of advisors on site as the twenty individual FAMs, but it allows our events team to plan site visits, excursions and transfers more efficiently, easing some of their burden,” explains Jacki Marks, Global Head of Trade, out. brands, ALG Holidays.

“Additionally, by having so many advisors in the destination at the same time, we can create educational opportunities for them on a shared day. Additionally, our leaders can address the group in a general session, and everyone can participate in a giving back event. The mega FAM is a combination of the most popular pieces from our Ascend educational conference and our reward trips.”

The 150 travel advisors who attended this first mega-FAM flew into Cancun International Airport and stayed throughout the Riviera Maya at Hyatt Zilara Riviera Maya, Hotel Riu Palace Mexico, Iberostar Grand Paraiso, Breathless & Secrets Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa, Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya and more.

Education, networking and giving back
All advisors came together for an action-packed day of education, networking and giving back. The general session began with a thank you to ALG Vacations’ travel advisor partners. Hyatt CEO Mark Hoplamazian told participants in a video: “We couldn’t do this without you. You build trust. And that’s why your customers come back to you… You bring them value and peace of mind. That is your superpower.”

Then Kathy Mehring (ALG Vacations Sales Director, Midwest) and Heather Hendrix (ALG Vacations Sales Director, East Coast) gave a nod to the big merger (when Hyatt acquired ALG in November 2021) and answered the still: The question on everyone’s mind remains hanging on what will happen to the different brands, says: “They are not going away… There is loyalty. We will still have all our brands.”

They also discussed various aspects of the group’s travel offering; summarized growth in Europe (with sales exceeding $100 million by 2023) and expansions (with more boutique properties and a luxury collection on the way); referenced the group’s ongoing Kindness in Travel movement; and provided an update on Carlson Kressley as ALG Vacations’ Travel Advisor Champion, spreading the word to national media about the value of using a travel advisor. Amstar then provided an update on their transportation options and excursions. And representatives from Breathless & Secrets Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa offered an overview of the accommodations (with Breathless attracting a lively crowd interested in social activities, and Secrets offering a quieter and more intimate stay).

ALG Vacations Mega Fam Cancun
Photo: Denise Caiazzo

After the general session, participants broke into smaller groups to attend workshop sessions, gaining a better understanding of how to use ALG Vacations products, services, marketing and technology to build their business. Destination and event photographer Will Byington also provided tips on taking photos/videos that make an impact in social media marketing. Travel industry expert Sandra McLemore discussed the hows and whys of both charging scheduling fees and implementing email marketing.

Another session followed, showcasing ALG Vacations’ special talent for bringing fun, complemented by a meaningful giveback component. All travel advisors gathered in a ballroom for a quick team building session, piñata-making session – with the piñatas then donated (along with school supplies) to a group of the sweetest little local girls and boys.

On subsequent days, consultants participated in site inspections and field trips. The event culminated in a sensational communal farewell party hosted by the brand new Hyatt Vivid Grand Island, where consultants paired it with delicious food and music, and enjoyed sharing stories of the week’s adventures.

What travel advisors had to say
Every travel advisor we spoke to had positive things to say about their experiences at this mega FAM. For example …

“My experience was absolutely wonderful,” says Yolanda M. Corbin, owner/travel consultant, Lux Life Travel Co. “The planning was well thought out, the breakout sessions were informative, the food was great, the leadership was excellent.” Regarding something she learned at the event, Corbin goes on to say, “That was Cancun not was at the top of my list for destinations, but this mega FAM and their attention to detail changed my perception. I loved it! I told my adult children about it, and they are surprised too, because they know I didn’t like Cancun, but they always wanted to learn more because my clients love it. That’s why I will definitely keep the hotels on my radar for bookings.”

ALG Holidays travel advisor fam trip general session
Photo: Denise Caiazzo

Tricia Pirner, senior travel advisor at Carrousel (sic) Travel, said: “It was an amazing experience; I was impressed with the breakout sessions to improve my business and fewer hotel tours. I loved that they picked hotels that would benefit my business to visit. All in all a very well thought out FAM.” Pirner notes that she has noted “the updated booking options for groups. It’s great to have some control over your bookings, without having to keep calling to make adjustments. I loved those features. As for enjoying the event: “I was also impressed by its ability to provide balance. We work very long hours, so it was great to have some free time to connect with others.

Travel consultant Julie Kutzke of Design Your Vacation says: “I loved it. I met so many new people and learned so much from others. As a new agent, I benefited enormously from the trip!”

Allison Frame Reaves also gives a glowing review: “I learned so much from the teaching classes, as well as from the BDMs and other agents. I have to do a major brain dump when I get home because I have so much resort information and so many ideas and processes to implement when I get back to the office. I enjoyed the camaraderie within our group. It’s so great to have other agents to learn with, talk to, and bounce ideas off of. I enjoyed the excitement and wonder of our Xenses excursion, and my heart is overjoyed for the giveback event. The piñataMaking it was not only fun, it was also heart-warming. Showing kindness during your travels is so important, and seeing the smile on the face of the little boy who received our trip piñata and school supplies was an invaluable experience.”

What’s next?
ALG Vacations’ next mega FAM will be in Punta Cana from September 18 to 21. Advisors must obtain ALGVPro certification to qualify for FAM travel. ALGV business development managers select eligible consultants from all US sales regions.

On future mega-FAMS, Marks advises, “In our first year out of the gate, our mega-FAMs filled up very quickly. After word gets around, we expect it will be even more competitive to get a spot next year. We will announce next year’s mega FAMs in the first quarter, so advisors should keep an eye on their emails.”