Particularly when planning foreign events, destination management companies (DMCs) are valuable members of the event planning team.
Today, I'll share some tips for building constructive partnerships with DMCs. The key is to C-O-M-M-U-N-I-C-A-T-E:
Clearly communicate requirements, objectives, expectations and timelines.
Be specific about group size, budget, special requirements and preferred dates (it is best if the client has flexible dates).
Outline which suppliers you will deal with directly and where you need assistance from the DMC.
Make suggestions for hotels, event venues, timing, galas and activities but remain open to input from the DMC.
Based on their familiarity with the destination, they can often come up with ideas to help you knock your event out of the park.
In this Internet age, some clients will contact venues and other suppliers to double check rates. If mark-ups result in quotes that are significantly higher than what the client can obtain directly, this can cost you and the DMC business. Strong DMCs have special pricing agreements in place to protect your 10% commission and still ensure that your quote does not exceed what the client can get directly.
Underscore your expectations with respect to transportation and logistics.
Scenario: I once booked 2 buses for half a day each to ensure coverage in case of traffic delays. The DMC provided 1 bus for the whole day. When group members participating in paintball decided to stay longer, his return to pick up other guests was delayed. The driver took a break without informing anyone. The start of shuttles to dinner was delayed and the restaurant almost cancelled the reservation.
Nothing is worse than chasing down payments months after an event. Set payment terms so that DMC and all suppliers are paid before the event.
Indicate whether or not you want your mark-up included in quotes.
Check to ensure mark-ups have been included in all quotes.
If this falls between the cracks, clients will not be pleased with revised quotes increasing pricing.
Arrange a final, pre-event meeting or conference call with the DMC and representatives from all suppliers.
Ensure that there is a clear understanding of how the event flows, timing and the role of all parties involved.
Take time for checkpoints throughout the event with the client and the prime contact from the DMC.
Adjust your plans as required.
Ensure that you build into your schedule a post-mortem with the client and the DMC for before you all leave the destination (or it will likely never happen).
Post mortems are important to improve processes for future events and identify required follow-up.
These tips will ensure effective teamwork when working with DMCs.
For more tips on dealing with DMCs, please also read Event Planners & DMCs Need to Address Mutual Concerns on the Cvent Event Blog.
Photo Credit: Victor1558