Here are resources for finding DMCs and PCOs whose local knowledge can make your meeting great. Call your planning peers, too: Their experience is worth a lot of Web searching!
Also note: Fantastic free resources are national tourist offices and convention and visitors bureaus. Call them early so you know the scope of services they can provide. You can find a list at the Tourism Worldwide Directory Web site.
Global Events Partners
Hosts Global Alliance
Kuoni Destination Management
The Luxury Partnership
Association of Destination Management Executives International
International Association of Professional Congress Organizers
The Local Difference: South Africa
To get an idea of the type of information a trusted local contact can give, we picked a destination that many attendees would love to visit and many planners may not have seen firsthand—South Africa. Here’s some advice from our contact, Daryl Keywood, managing director, Walthers DMC:
“As a destination management company, we are approached by planners for our services, but they also ask for hotel recommendations. Sometimes they have already found the right property. But quite often there is a more suitable—and sometimes more affordable—option that hasn’t been considered.
“It is virtually impossible for them to keep up-to-date, especially within a long haul destination that might be visited infrequently, if at all. New properties are constantly being built, and what was fashionable 10 years ago might not be so today. A professional local partner works in the destination on a daily basis and will be up-to-date.
“The online hotel RFP approach sounds great, but a recent search on Cape Town resulted in 15 hits featuring 13 hotels, not one of which is in the sought-after waterfront area. And at least half of the major conference hotels also were missing from the initial list.
“A similar situation exists in southern Africa when it comes to booking flights. Low-cost airlines may not be included in booking engines, but in southern Africa there are indeed low-cost options, including carriers that are operated by the British Airways affiliate as well as South African Airways. And few North American planners will have heard of Kulula or Mango, but these are world-class carriers flying very young fleets and with perfect safety records.”