Like many successful travel advisors, when the going gets tough, Lori Swinderman gets creative.
Which is exactly what she did during the pandemic, creating Mexico FamTrips , which just completed its first fam tour on Dec. 6.
“I have always had a great passion for Mexico and its people. I had become the person whom other travel agents went to for advice about Mexico sales,” said Swinderman, owner of Upon A Star Travel & Concierge. “Once the pandemic hit and I saw the effects that it had on Mexico, I knew I had to do something.”
Weighing in her favor was the fact that, in the wake pandemic, Mexico has become one of the easiest destinations to travel to – and advisors who had little experience selling it needed assistance, Swinderman said. “They hadn’t visited resorts in Mexico yet and they needed the education to sell it with confidence. I am a firm believer that when we help others succeed it just makes our entire industry better.”
She added, “I also think with my background it helps me that I know exactly what most travel professionals need and want to experience during a fam.”
Swinderman also relocated from Pennsylvania to Playa del Carmen.
Over the years, Swinderman has built strong relationships with her supplier partners. “As an agency owner, I have worked for years to create lasting relationships within our industry,” she said. “That has helped me immensely with Mexico FamTrips. I have had many resorts, industry leaders and colleagues reach out to me and embrace what I am doing, and offer to assist in any way they can.”
The fam trips will run the gamut. “We plan on having fams that focus specifically on the culture and the people of Mexico, with off-the-beaten-path excursions and activities,” she said. “We have fams planned for luxury properties for travel professionals who have experience selling high-end properties, as well.”
The inaugural five-night fam included seven travel advisors. “We started at UNICO 20 87 and explored that property and Hard Rock Riviera Maya. After two nights we moved to Fives Hotels & Residences in Playa del Carmen and toured all three Fives properties and did All Senses training with Daniel Scheiman, director of sales for the Fives Hotels & Residences.
“Something that will always be a part of any Mexico FamTrips fam is training and organized discussions on best practices,” Swinderman said. “James Berglie from Be All Inclusive conducted an amazing, high-level training on social media, and Vincent Wong from Chubbit Travel Wong used his knowledge of technology to provide a technology session on travel and tourism.”
The fam also included a group snorkeling trip in Puerto Morelos.
In addition to UNICO 20 87, All-Inclusive Hard Rock Hotels and The Fives Beaches Hotels & Residences, Swinderman is also working with a range of other Mexico partners, including Karisma Hotels & Resorts , Velas Resorts , Live Aqua and Lomas Travel.
“Right now we are offering fams that we will put together with our travel partners, and we will open them up to the travel advisor through our website and Facebook page ,” Swinderman said. “The other type of fam is an Agency Exclusive Fam, where agency owners come to us and we plan a custom fam for their entire agency. I work with them to create a schedule based on their needs.”
Last but not least, Mexico FamTrips is partnering with a local school to help give back to the people of Mexico . “We want our fam attendees to see how vital the travel world is to Mexico,” Swinderman said. “Travel moves wealth all over the world, and when people don't travel, people in destinations like Mexico suffer. We want to do our part to help with that.”