It’s a very common question that people doing conference planning ask – should I use a Destination Management Company, or DMC as they are known in the industry, to assist me with my group’s meeting? It’s also a very common misconception that planners cannot afford to hire a DMC. While DMC’s are for profit organizations, you don’t necessarily have to consider them as an additional expense line to your conference planning.
Full disclosure first. My experience in the conference planning industry comes from destination management, so I tend to see more of the benefits from using a local expert. However, I have also advised clients that they don’t need a DMC for each and every component of their program. In fact, used properly, a DMC could save you money or at the very least provide a great event at your desired budget.
Conference Planning – Using A Local Expert Will Add Local Flavor
The one main benefit of using a DMC is that you are getting advice from a local expert. These people or companies know what’s happening in their backyard. They have to, their survival depends on it. The benefit of using a DMC is that your conference will be getting the very best or the newest, hottest venue in town. You’ll come across looking like a superstar. Most conference planning includes incorporating the local flavor of the city that you are in. Unless you are based in that city or have done several meetings there, chances are that you aren’t aware of the best offerings.
Some planners also ask me whether they can rely on the hotel or convention and visitor’s bureau to help with this task. Of course these are great resources to use. Depending on how extravagant or unique you want your event to be is usually where my advice on whether or not to use a DMC come in. If part of your conference planning includes an upscale restaurant in the area of your hotel, then quite often the recommendation of your hotel contact would be sufficient. But if your conference planning incorporates something that would be unique to the delegate (something they couldn’t get or do anywhere else), then I would strongly recommend a DMC.
Conference Planning – It’s Not Always Bad To Disclose Your Budget
If you’re worried that a DMC will increase your budget, consider providing them with a per person cost that you can spend for the function. Some planners have told me that they don’t like to provide budgets as they feel the price will always come back in that range. Well ya – that’s sort of why the person was asking that in the first place.
In the conference planning cycle, building trust with people and companies you work with should be a top priority. Be honest and tell any suppliers that if things go well, you will certainly tell people about your experience. The same goes if things don’t go as well as you had been promised. Now, you must remember, not all bad things can be blamed on suppliers. Things like bad weather or unexpected traffic are really no one’s fault. However, a planned road closure or not telling you that there was a large open air component (in the event of rain) to the venue can be attributed to bad planning and as such to the company that is handling the event.
So, the real answer to the question of when to use and when not to use a DMC really depends on your conference planning needs. There are many components to your program that you may very easily do yourself. And similarly, there may also be more intricate components to your conference planning that may make your job easier if you hired a local professional. Always make sure you or someone you trust knows of the company you’re with. One resource that I would recommend visiting is ADME (the Association of Destination Management Executives). This association sets the standard for DMC’s. A quick visit to this site will give you a good overview of what you can expect when using a DMC.