Destination management companies have been a critical component of corporate meetings for over four decades, but the role of DMCs is changing, driven by an evolution of the needs, expectations and requirements of meeting planners.
Here’s our list of six top trends to watch in 2008 in the ever-changing destination management industry:
Expecting More, Doing More
While meeting activity and budgets are trending slightly upwards, most meeting planners have not been able to add as many staff positions to their departments as they would like. Many have more responsibility on their plate, and as a result, DMCs must be prepared to take on more than ever before. So, while planners still ask DMCs to provide typical destination services, such as transportation, site inspections, off-site venue events, and local entertainment, there’s an increased emphasis on creative ideas and special events that build and reinforce a company’s brand.
We expect continued, modest consolidation of DMCs. Many times, planners are working on several programs simultaneously, and it is not efficient for them to explain their culture and brand to separate providers. It makes sense to work with a DMC with branches in multiple destinations, which can share information about their corporate clients.
Within this increasingly consolidated environment, just having the same name on the front door doesn’t mean that DMC offices are aligned. There needs to be an executive management team in place with a focus on national sales. Working with a national DMC should deliver consistent operational excellence, processes, and experiences. A planner will know if a DMC’s offices are working together if the primary contact in each city already has all the information about the brand, requirements, and preferences. Also, look to see that all forms and processes are consistent. The offices need to share best practices to stay ahead of the curve.
Meeting planners are facing further budget constraints due to the rising price of energy and its effect on group transportation, and the current strength of the hotel market. Exotic locales always have an appeal, but most planners want to stay closer to home in North America to minimize travel time.
In addition to larger meeting destinations like Las Vegas; Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Southern California, we’re noting an interest in smaller markets like a revitalized New Orleans and easily accessible Whistler, British Columbia. Look for these destinations to gain in popularity because of the economic value they offer.
Incentives on the Rise
We are seeing incentive programs on the rise and budgets increasing moderately. For these annual programs, DMCs have to make the experience more engaging than ever. If attendees receive exactly the experience they expect, chances are they aren’t delivering that “a-ha” moment. Time to shake things up!
Green Is the New Black
There’s an increased interest in holding environmentally responsible events. However, this is balanced against strict budget demands. TBA is promoting environmentally friendly programs that showcase corporate responsibility with a “reduce, reuse, and recycle” mentality, which will preserve the environment and the planner’s budget.