If you’re planning a destination event and not quite sure where to begin, someone might have recommended you seek out a destination management company (DMC) to help. At which point, you probably asked yourself, “what is a destination management company?”
Have no fear – we're here to help demystify DMCs and offer some insight into why you might consider working with DMCs for your in-person events.
What Are Destination Management Companies?
Executing the perfect event can be overwhelming, but when you’re planning an in-person event in an unfamiliar location, it becomes even more stressful. A destination management company (or DMC) is a business that encompasses a wide variety of professional services at a travel destination to help remove some of this stress.
DMCs help event planners sort out critical event details, taking care of a large number of tasks on the endless planner to-do list. From transportation needs, hotel accommodations, and food and beverage options to recommended activities, a DMC knows all of the best options in the area where you’re hosting your event and will ensure all your boxes are checked.
Especially since the pandemic, working with a DMC can mean big cost and time savings for planners. Even if you’ve hosted an event in a location before, your former contacts and partners may no longer be in business or may have altered their offerings. Partnering with a local DMC means you don’t have to start from scratch.
Benefits of Working with a Destination Management Company
Why are destination management companies important? We could simply say, “trust us: they’ll make your job easier.” But we won’t.
There are plenty of benefits to working with a DMC when planning an event in unfamiliar territory. Especially if you're trying to cultivate a unique event experience or have any unusual needs, a DMC could have all the answers for you.
Here are a few reasons to consider working with a DMC:
1. Time and cost savings
- When you work with a DMC, you can significantly cut down on the time you spend searching for vendors, experiences, and travel accommodations. By partnering with a DMC that handles vendor sourcing, contacting, booking, and even managing vendors onsite during your event, you’ll see huge time savings.
- Discounts, anyone? DMCs can often score you discounted rates on travel, experience packages, and even vendors when they manage bookings for you.
- Feel like you’re missing something? DMCs can help you stay on track, checking off boxes you hadn’t considered. Keeping track of every little detail helps ensure you don't go over budget with those last-minute “what about XYZ?!” moments.
- By understanding your event goals and budget, your DMC can partner with vendors who work best for you event size, type, and budget.
2. Local Expertise and “Know How”
- Want to offer your attendees an unforgettable experience? DMCs’ local expertise means insight into unique local gems or experiences you can’t find with an online search and that will leave a lasting impression on attendees.
- Locals know the best (and worst) time of year for certain experiences. Don’t get caught planning an experience for the fall that’s only available (or worth the time) in summer!
- If there are other big events in town during your event, you’ll want to know, whether they’ll complicate your event or could enhance your attendees’ experience.
- A great way to attract more attendees to destination events is to hype up not just the event but the destination itself! Local DMCs can offer ideas to help you show attendees why you chose a location, and all the locale has to offer.
3. Connections to Local Vendors and Venues
- A good DMC will have a rolodex of well-reviewed local caterers who have a reputation for excellence. Even better, they’ll be able to recommend caterers meeting your event size and budget.
- Looking for an amazing local venue to make the most of your event? Your DMC can recommend locations that meet your in-person needs.
- If you need any specialized equipment that only a few vendors can offer, your DMC may already have a relationship with those vendors if they’re used to managing events like yours. Even if you need a fairly standard list of vendors, from entertainment to lighting and A/V, your DMC will have those connections.
- If your former contacts and venues are out of business or shifting operations since the pandemic, you don’t have to build out a fresh rolodex of local contacts on your own – enlist a DMC.
4. Seamless Travel Coordination
Anything and everything travel related – lay at your DMC’s door. Your DMC can make all of this (and more) a cinch!
- Airport pickups and transfers
- Hotel bookings
- Vehicle rentals
- Ensuring adherence to travel restrictions and safety guidelines
5. Assistance Meeting Safety Standards
- Not sure about the local recommendations and guidelines? Your DMC will know and ensure you’re in compliance.
- If you have your own set of safety measures you want to implement during your event, your DMC can help you partner with vendors who implement the enhanced safety measures you need.
6. Knowledge of Local Tours and Excursions
What are the “can’t miss” experiences of your chosen locale? Your DMC will know! (And can help you book them.) Whether you’re looking for guided tours, small or large group activities, happy hour spots, or excursions attendees can add at registration, a DMC can lead the way.
How to Choose a DMC for Your Event
If you’re sold on the benefits of working with a DMC, now comes the fun part – choosing the right DMC!
Okay, so we might be using the term “fun” loosely, but even if you don’t have fun with your search, it doesn’t have to be difficult. To make it simple, start by consulting a list of reputable DMCs. From there, you can use the following criteria to help you decide which DMC is right for your event!
1. Age of Business
There’s something to be said for a company with years or decades of experience in a certain locale. DMCs with a longer history in an area will have deeper local knowledge, more connections with local vendors and venues, and tested and trusted expertise you can rely on.
2. Breadth of Services
The more elements of your event your DMC can help with, the more bang for your buck. For cost and time savings, work with a DMC that can help take care of all your needs, from vendors and venues to local experiences, travel accommodations, and discounts on bookings.
3. Send a Detailed RFP
Make the most of your partnership with your DMC by sending a detailed RFP. Let them know up front exactly what you’re planning and where you need help so you’re only connected with DMCs who know they can handle your event.
4. Company Values
As with all vendors, it’s important to ensure your company’s mission and values align with those of your DMC. If you have specific goals in mind or want to plan an event that embodies the tenets of your mission statement, make that known to your DMC.
If you’re aiming to increase your diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts, can your DMC help make that happen, and do they have a good reputation where DEI is concerned? Perhaps your DMC can help you incorporate Corporate social responsibility programs (CSR) into your event schedule.
5. Customer Testimonials and Proof of Work
The customer is always right – especially where testimonials are concerned. When you’re searching for the right DMC for your event, do some research into what past clients are saying. It’s also worth looking at photos or videos from previous events managed by the DMC.
6. Locally Owned or National DMCs
Not all DMCs are local – some (if not many) are national companies that have local branches or simply offer assistance from a global HQ that’s far from the location of your event. So, is it better to go local or trust the national companies?
While locally owned DMCs can have a “boutique” feel and offer on-the-ground insights into local experiences and partners, national DMCs may have more resources at their disposal to make your event happen. Balance the pros and cons of each to make your decision.
7. Staff Location
If you choose to work with a national DMC, keep in mind that they might not have staff in the city where your event is being held. If in-person support is important to you, finding a DMC with local staff is a must. If you only need assistance finding and booking local vendors and experiences, local staff becomes far less necessary.
8. In-House Services Available
While some DMCs outsource all the vendors you’ll work with, there are some DMCs that can offer you in-house services and packages, which can help cut down on costs if you book multiple elements of your event in-house. If you want to check a few items off your list right away, consider partnering with a DMC that offers some of the services you need in-house, such as entertainment, travel services, etc.
There’s a lot to consider when choosing a DMC – and event planners have plenty to consider already. Ready to find a DMC but not sure where to look? Check out this Vendor Marketplace, where you can find experienced DMCs who are ready to partner with you for your next event!