by Heather Beaumont
Remember that old saying: When you fail to plan you plan to fail? Wise expressions have stood the test of time for a reason: They make sense. A good plan is key when it comes to recordkeeping and FAMs.
There's no need to waste time hunting for misplaced brochures or trying to match the photograph to the location. With an itinerary that's jam-packed with activities, it's in your best interests to organize your information so that you can focus on your visit.
Prepare Questions in Advance
Ann LeBlanc, a Meeting Specialist with Manulife Investments takes the time to go through the itinerary before she leaves for her trip. She conducts Internet research, "marks the destinations that are most interesting and prepares questions in advance."
Ask for What You Need
Specify how you would like to receive your information. Do you want information in hard copy or do you prefer that it's e-mailed to you? Perhaps you want to reinforce your commitment to a greener planet, or maybe you don't want to carry a heavier load home; ask for emailed copies.
Do a Daily Check
When she's away on a FAM, LeBlanc goes through the information and photos of the day to make sure that she achieved what she wanted. "If I have any questions, I'll usually see the partners again and can ask them then."
Use your site inspection checklist to assess the site. It will also help you fill out your host's post-FAM survey [For additional insights, review the Site Inspection Checklist article on this website].
Be a Photojournalist
- Take photos of everything that interests you or your clients. Whether you use a Blackberry, iPhone or digital camera, take the time to record information about each photo so that you don't forget later.
- If you aren't a savvy photographer make arrangements to share images with your fellow guests via an uploadable photo-website with shared access.
- Get web links and passwords to access photo databases for each site. Find out whether photos are permitted in specific locations; some hotels prefer to send photos after the FAM.
- Use a camcorder or other recording device with audio and state the location of each photo out loud to record photo details. That way, you won't have to worry about juggling a pen and notebook, as well as a camera.
- Pay attention. Barbara Finn, MICE representative, (Meetings Incentives Conventions and Events) at Vox, will often point out an interesting photo opportunity on her Las Vegas FAMs. When your host says, "This is something you won't see elsewhere." Take note and get the shot.
- Make the most of your camera. Check your batteries and memory card to be sure that your camera is equipped to take pictures. Don't be afraid to get closer and fill the frame with your subject. Ensure that your flash is turned on in dark or hazy situations.
- Some hosts provide memory sticks/flash drives. This portable information storage device makes it easier to conduct work away from the office and to refer to hotel specific information on your return.
Keep Track of Who's Who
- Request a contact list of all associated service providers and your fellow guests from the FAM host.
- Staple or clip business cards to brochures or information sheets. Take the time to quickly jot impressions on the back of the business card. These notes will help to jog your memory when you're entering information and comments into your database.
Your Recordkeeping Checklist
- Site inspection checklist
- Digital camera, Blackberry or iPhone with transfer cable for your laptop
- Video recorder with microphone
- Journal, small notebook or clipboard
- Laptop with power cable
- USB memory stick or flash drive
- Contact information sheet
- Folders to file brochures
- Paper clips or stapler
- Your business cards
- A plastic sleeve to hold business cards while networking