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Knowing me, knowing you: why partners should go on fam trips

Think you know somebody? Try to picture how they spend their working day, the specific tasks involved, the people they have to meet, the amount of time they spend surfing the internet.

Chances are it’ll be guesswork. Mostly our working lives are kept entirely separate from our private lives. We never go into details with friends and family, because, frankly, they never ask.

The meetings industry seems to work a bit differently. Maybe the amount of travel plays a role, or the amount of hospitality. Or maybe it’s because the industry just attracts people who are open and naturally inclusive and refuse to make that arbitrary distinction between colleague and friend.

Whatever the reason, the line between work and play is blurred more than in most sectors. It used to be commonplace, too, for spouses and partners to be invited on familiarisation (fam) trips.

This seems to be less of ‘a thing’ nowadays.

Despite the cost implications (negligible in most cases given single person supplements etc), some people argue that the practice is somehow ‘unprofessional’ and that couples tend to behave more raucously than solo travellers.

I disagree. Although I have yet to take a partner on a fam trip, my experience is that ‘plus ones’ create a more courteous, and if anything, more sober atmosphere. I have been on fams where the behaviour of business acquaintances has left much to be desired – drinking all day, basically – and wondered if they would behave like that in front of their wives or husbands. Doubt it.

Inviting loved ones on a fam trip is the industry’s way of acknowledging that much of what we call ‘work’  (and that’s what it is!) involves doing a lot of things that most people would call ‘play’, and sharing some of that with long-suffering partners who are often left minding the fort.

But perhaps more importantly than that, it gives people an insight into the working life of their partners that is denied to most people.

And with that, hopefully, a little more understanding, that while it might look terribly glamorous from the outside, there is, in fact, alas, always work to be done…