Why use a DMC?
When you need another you... call a DMC!
You're a busy professional who knows what's required for every type meeting for which you are responsible. You also know it is not really possible for you to personally handle every detail on some of your projects: the meeting is too large; the time frames between sessions and events are too short; there is not enough staff available. What you need is another you!
Well, there is no other you, but there is something out there that may come close. No matter where your meeting or project is scheduled, help is as close as your nearest Destination Management Company. The newest association in the meetings management field has begun to take some of the mystery out of the most invisible component of the invisible industry of meetings.
"Destination Management Company" is a relatively new term, but the companies carrying this descriptor are anything but new. Some 30-something years ago, transportation companies started to see an increase in the number of clients wishing to rent equipment of all types: buses, vans, limousines, etc. This increase was in direct relation to a proliferation of more meetings and larger conventions. When this occurred, some clients started to request services other than transportation equipment. These companies attempted to meet the need, and the name "ground operator" came into being.
In the early 1980s, some segments of the U.S. economy were struck by a recession, which resulted in downsizing (sound familiar?) by some organizations. They let their meeting professionals go, but they still needed the services performed by them. What to do? Hire them back as an independent contractor on a short-term basis. That was fine for the company, but it did not fully meet the needs of the meeting professional. To be able to continue in the profession they had chosen, these professionals would need to work for more than one company or organization. They also recognized the need to know everything there is about the destination in which they perform their services. Which company has the most reliable buses? What entertainer is available for that special evening? Do we need a permit to hold a picnic in that park? Where do we get the permit? How much will it cost? What are the other rules and regulations related to holding this picnic (or ball game, or concert)? What is the history of this area (destination)? Are there sufficient, well-versed guides to take people to see the areas of interest? What restaurants can handle this size group? Should box lunches be an option, and if so, where do we get them?
These questions are only a few that faced the early practitioners of destination management. Not only did they need to know all the foregoing, but they also needed to determine how to set up a small business; because that, indeed, is what they were becoming. Do we hire every person who works on these events? How much office space and staff will I need? What about insurance? What type company--corporation, sole proprietorship, partnership?
Marketing, networking, which organizations are best for the company, all were questions needing answers. Because many had come from the meetings management segment of the industry, they understood the need to stay current in that segment of the industry and joined MPI, PCMA, ASAE, and the other meeting-related organizations. And all had and have one thing in common -- a "can-do" attitude. Even if they had not performed a particular service before, if the client needed it, they found the way to do it!
Now the destination management component is maturing, and meeting professionals have come to rely on these mainstays to get them through some challenging projects. Many times, the meeting manager does not have the luxury of time to research all the answers for various projects and components. The destination management professional knows he/she is obligated to know about the peculiarities of their specific destination. They become locale-specific logistic and event experts for their respective destination. They research what new locations are available, what the cost of various sites are, whom they contact, and how to make everything work. The staff is continually educated on all aspects required. Quality independent contractors with special skills and talents are investigated and recruited. Most use only people who have been personally recommended by someone who already has performed outstanding project work. For a large event, it is not unusual to draw on a pool of 150 contractors. Care is taken to match the project staff with the needs of the meeting professional.
An additional sign of coming of age for this segment of the industry is that of forming an educational association to raise the level of professionalism, to explore the best ways of doing business and serving customers, and to educate those customers as to what they can expect from a destination management company. To this end, the Association of Destination Management Executives (ADME) came into existence on June 24, 1995. The fledgling organization held its first Annual Conference in January, 1996, and of course, among the first-ever speakers were meetings professionals from both the corporate and association fields.
Destination management companies are architects and general contractors for meeting professionals. They outline ideas via proposals, and once the decision is made, set out to make the desired component happen. Just as convention services managers in hotels and Decorating Companies in the exhibit hall become extensions of your staff, your ultimate outsource partner outside the education sessions and exhibit halls, is your destination management company.
Depending on the company and the staff specialists in the company, they offer, but are not limited to, the following:
- Creative proposals for special events within the meeting,
- Guest tours,
- VIP amenities and transportation,
- Shuttle services (including statistics) to assist with future planning,
- Staffing within the convention center,
- Picnics and other outdoor activities, such as team building,
- Entertainment, both headlines and talented locals, and sound and light professionals
- Decor and theme development,
- Ancillary meetings management professionals,
- Advance and onsite registration services,
- And whatever else the meeting professional might need to insure his/her event is successful.
Where do you find the ultimate outsource partner for your needs? Whether in or out of town, begin with the Convention and Visitors Bureau, or if there is not one, the Chamber of Commerce. Serious destination management company professionals belong to one of these organizations. Ask a colleague if they can recommend one in the locale. If you have successfully used a company in the past, ask if they can refer you to someone in the next city. Some companies belong to marketing groups which have stringent requirements for the individual companies. Inquire if the company belongs to ADME, as this organization has membership criteria to hopefully insure reliability of the members. Prepare an RFP and send it to the companies being considered.
And don't hesitate to use a DMC, even in your own backyard! The time and effort saved can make it extremely cost-effective to use this type of partner no matter where you are. They will have the most current information on sports events, cultural activities, festivals, and just plain fun and facts to help you be the best you can be for every meeting and event you manage. Your staff can then concentrate on the organization-related details that only you can handle.