Have you ever travelled abroad for an event or conference, or been lucky enough to be invited on an incentive trip somewhere exotic? Just as the events industry is pushing boundaries here in the UK, there are growing expectations of those hosted abroad as well.
People expect to have an experience; they want to see the sights, talk to locals, sample the food and learn about another culture. We see so much from the comfort of our phone screens these days that people naturally want to dig a little deeper when they visit somewhere in person.
Here at FoxWylie we’re very used to working on events abroad but, just like everyone, we need to do our homework in advance!
What’s a FAM trip?
A FAM trip is short for ‘familiarisation’ trip, and it really does what is says on the tin.
When you visit your local travel agent – or speak with an online travel counsellor – we’re sure you’ll agree that the best experiences you have are when they can personally advise on the destinations you are considering.
This is just what we do. By visiting the different countries and getting to know the infrastructure and opportunities out there, we are in a much better position to advise and work on events held abroad.
FAM trips usually involve a packed itinerary with hotels, restaurants, conference centres and local tourist attractions to visit. Of course, they’re great fun too!
But it’s not just about exploring the physical places, it’s about gaining an understanding of the culture, the people we’d work with, and industry rules and regulations, which may differ to here in the UK.
When we return to FoxWylie HQ, we can discuss what we’ve learned with the team so we’re fully prepared for any future projects.
Our most recent FAM trip was to Malta, a small island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea directly south of Italy. Over 425,000 people live in Malta and there are 365 churches on the island – one for every day of the year!
We were hosted by ‘MM and Company’ – who provide the conference and incentive market with detailed knowledge and support of various destinations – and ‘Mi Malta’ who offer hospitality and ancillary services to Malta’s Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE) sector.
Malta attracts around 1.6 million tourists a year, but it’s just as popular for filmmakers as it is for sun seekers. Did you know some of the scenes for movies such as Gladiator, World War Z and Captain Phillips, which was shot off the coast of Malta, have been filmed there – as well as the TV series Game of Thrones?
It took us just two and a half hours by plane to get to Malta and we checked in at the Radisson Blu Resort Hotel on arrival.
We then visited Mdina, which is known as the ‘silent city’ due to the narrow streets, which happily accommodate horse drawn vehicles, but with very few cars allowed to enter the city walls. It’s like stepping back in time with beautiful architecture all around you.
The day finished with dinner in Mdina before heading back to our hotel.
We headed out to Malta’s capital, Valletta, for a tour of the city. It’s a small city packed full of sights, and is a Unesco World Heritage site.
We then went on a site visit to the Mediterranean Conference Centre and had lunch at Café de Mear, which has stunning views across the Med. The conference centre is an old hospital building that is now used for multiple banquets, exhibitions, international conventions and theatrical shows.
After some time to ourselves to reflect on what we had experienced so far, we had dinner at another beautiful venue.
Our last day featured a trip to Naxxar to see the Palace Parisio, which is a palace and gardens featuring beautiful architecture and lavish interiors.
We then headed back to the airport for our short flight home.
Malta as an event destination
It was great to get a feel of the country; the history, what brings tourist and incentive travellers there, and its growing events industry.
Here are some of the reasons why we think Malta is great for future events…
- It’s a small island – just 17 miles long and 9 miles wide – so nothing is going to be too far away to visit or take up too much time. In fact, nothing is more than 20 minutes away from you in Malta, hence the archipelago’s joke that everything takes 20 minutes!
- There is a good public bus system going all over the island inexpensively and efficiently.
- There is lots to see and do.
- It’s quick and easy to get to from the UK, so doesn’t take up too much time for travel.
- It is growing its MICE industry (Meetings, Incentives, Conference and Exhibitions).
- The island enjoys regular sunshine – over 8 hours daily across the year!
- Its residents speak Maltese and English.
If you’re interested in hosting an event or incentive travel trip abroad then we’d love to talk to you.