By Kathy Fort Carty
I was recently asked why meeting planners hire destination management companies (DMCs)? I wish there were some earth-shattering revelations, but frankly it is pretty simple and there are four basic reasons:
1. Save time;
2. Local connections and destination expertise;
3. Risk management; and
4. Peace of mind.
With the economy coming back strong in the last 12 months, so have meetings and incentive programs. However, many companies have not added resources to their internal planning departments. We work with planners that are sourcing, designing and executing hundreds of meetings and events a year all over the world. They can barely manage the volume of programs they are assigned, and don’t have time to conduct research on each destination that is selected. They need to outsource much of the logistics, creative and operations of the program to ensure a successful event. DMCs are the best option for meeting planners who are short on time and need a proven company that can get the program planning done efficiently, professionally and on budget.
DMCs also are entrenched in our local communities and our connections run deep. A planner can trust that we have current, relevant experience working with suppliers in our destinations and we connect the dots between our client’s objectives and needs and the supplier experiences that will best suit the program. Google is a wonderful tool, but have you noticed that all vendors look the same on the Internet? It is difficult to sift through the hundreds of options and get a true sense of which suppliers are truly quality providers. A DMC will know first-hand what restaurants will accommodate a VIP dinner in an intimate private room. Our staff can direct a client to the right choices on activities and tours based on the attendee profile, age group, past experience, time available and budget. When selecting a venue for an event, we can quickly narrow down the options based on a client’s criteria.
DMCs also mitigate a company’s risk. While this isn’t the sexy sell, it is at the core of what a good DMC provides a Fortune 500 firm. Companies simply cannot afford to select a vendor that has not been vetted and is not properly insured. Planners have to be prepared for the “what if” situation. We conduct annual reviews with suppliers, inspect their facilities, meet with owners and management and monitor their ability to run a successful operation during peak season. We send our staff out in the field to test supplier services to make sure that they can deliver the quality experience we demand for our clients, often as under-cover consumers. DMCs also require specific insurance coverage for our supplier partners, and we collect policy information annually. We also facilitate the instances where a client needs to be listed as an additional insured on supplier policies.
Finally, a great DMC provides a meeting planner with peace of mind. We are not saving lives, and our work is not rocket science, but it is labor intensive, demanding and there are lots of opportunities for things to go wrong. With a DMC in charge, clients can rest easy that their program will run flawlessly.
Kathy Fort Carty has been president & CEO of DSC since 1986 and built the business from a one-person show to an award winning, multi-million dollar operation with offices in Denver, Vail, Aspen, Lake Tahoe and on-site at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.