Skip to site content
group travel leader select traveler small market meetings

Faith Travel 101 — Finding inspiration for unfamiliar destinations

Although traditionally the role of marketing destinations belongs to convention and visitors bureaus, it also often falls to the event planners of church travel groups to convince members that an upcoming religious-themed trip is a must-see.  One of the most difficult sells for any event planner is an unfamiliar destination.

Especially if no one in the church travel group has ever set foot in the location, it may be hard for the event planner to enthusiastically promote the destination to garner enough interest from the church members.  Sometimes time restrictions can also prevent travel planners from being able to properly research the place to market the experience.

When these problems arise, it’s often the travel planner’s attitude that can sell the new destination. Many times church members will take their cues from the event planner on issues ranging from dealing with grumpy travelers to calming travel fears.

If possible, the person convincing other church members to purchase the latest travel opportunity should have gone to the destination beforehand. Anyone who has already gotten the feel of a location can bubble over with enthusiasm much easier than someone who has only seen pictures. Experiences in Turkey, Italy and even domestic locals like Williamsburg, Va., can seem more real to potential tourists coming from someone who has seen the destination with their own eyes.

An easy way for church travel planners to familiarize themselves with a location’s sights and attractions is for them to attend a familiarization trip or “fam” trip. Organized through tour operators or tourism organizations, fam trips can not only allow the event planners to experience the destination first hand, but they can also prove very enjoyable for the event planner, since any excuse to travel to places like Italy can be a good one.

Working directly with travel professionals of specific destinations across the globe can also prove beneficial in convincing prospective church members about the merits of a new location. Asking convention and visitors bureaus or attractions for their help can bring reduced rates, fam trip offers or a visit from one of their travel experts.

If the event planner cannot tour a location, a representative from the new destination is often the next best thing. These experts can attend a presentation marketing the event or aid in putting together a professional and convincing sales pitch for the trip.

Creating a buzz for unfamiliar destinations long before the first bag is packed is essential in selling these destinations. Many event planners who sell mystery tours even recommend taking the unknown aspects of the trip and turning them into fun anticipation and excitement. Lesser-known destinations can sell fast when enough enthusiasm is built around the location.