Although DMCs provide a service that is critical in the value chain of events, they do not get the same recognition or value perception as the lead contracting event agency – the agency usually makes sure of that!
Many naysayers foretold the demise of destination management companies (DMCs) when a virtual web of transactions, bookings, information and decision-making leaves little room for personalised attention and customisation at an additional cost. However, recent studies in events and destination management, has reiterated the role and importance of DMCs in a changing environment.
It is clear that the role of DMCs must evolve. Booking accommodation, arranging transport, reserving restaurants or advice on event ideas are just a click away for all of us. Does that mean that DMCs are becoming redundant? Not, at all. Demonstrating that point, the studies specify key reasons why clients can benefit from DMC services, from saving time to risk mitigation, economic savings and simplified finance management and the ability to involve participants. Having one partner to liaise with instead of a long list of local suppliers is like a one-stop delivery store.
Event organisation is a constantly evolving industry influenced by new technologies, social change, new market offerings and so on. The top trends to watch in this changing environment are tailored experiences that are meaningful and have a direct link to the client or local community; second-tier, emerging destinations or original locations; greater social media engagement among participants; CSR and local community legacies; ethical and organic food and flexibility.
By accepting the need for these parameters to be managed in a holistic manner, we reinstate the need to work with a DMC. DMCs have endured a lot of challenges in recent times and every year there seems to be speculation about what we can expect and whether the future is bright or, more often, gloomy. To set the record straight, I asked for the opinions and insights from those in the know. I explored how DMCs are still relevant today, the value they offer, the challenges they are facing and how they are reinventing themselves to be ready for the future.
The internet means that a wealth of information is available at our fingertips and everyone can Google and research standard packages and solutions. This means that DMCs have to work even harder to offer unique solutions. Cindy Y. Lo, owner of Red Velvet Events, said: “Every DMC needs to offer creative solutions that are NOT turn-key because most corporate clients want something unique for their event.”
The participant no longer wants the standard when they visit a destination – they want the authentic, the real and the unique. Aoife Delaney, director of marketing and sales at The DMC Network explained: “Authenticity is the new gold – a DMC knows a destination intimately and can put together an authentic experience in a way that cannot be found on the internet.”
Budgets are not growing in perpetuity. Understandably, transparency in pricing is requested frequently by clients. However, this challenges the DMC on where to draw the line with pricing transparency.
One of the most critical challenges DMCs face is the issue of perception. The work of DMCs is crucial but it isn’t always viewed as integral. The broader business event community as a whole is not always great at promoting the value of their achievements. Although DMCs provide a service that is critical in the value chain of events, they do not get the same value perception. DMCs can offer unrivalled expertise in a destination, as well as local knowledge, which means DMCs can identify uniquely interesting and strong partners to catalyse the success of the event. This is not easy to achieve from any distant location elsewhere.
Meeting and incentive planners want unique experiences because that’s what every client wants. They are there to bring the destination alive in a way that supports the goal of the client and to ensure they have the best experience possible.
And peace of mind is paramount. When an event happens with hundreds or thousands of people, everything needs to happen so seamlessly the organisation isn’t even noticed. And the DMC is there to control a crisis when anything goes wrong. The lesson is not to be penny-wise and pound-foolish.
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