For some conferences, tradeshows, and meetings, clients or sponsoring organizations take care of certain expenses while attendees pay for others. Perhaps a hospitality desk is provided but attendees book their own tours and offsite excursions. Attendees who extend their time at a destination may be responsible for their own airport transfers.
Individual attendees tend to be highly price sensitive and may be penny wise and pound foolish. In an Internet age, attraction pricing is transparent. Don't assume that attendees will spot the value added by the options the DMC provides. Structure your offering carefully and clearly articulate the benefits.
- Select suppliers who offer discounted industry pricing.
Otherwise, by the time a DMC factors in their pricing, they will have priced themselves out of the market.
- Specialize in exclusive, unique, customized experiences, not off-the-shelf tours.
This will eliminate all sticker-shock after they "shop around".
- Stress the time savings.
Rather than spending time researching options, a DMC can do the legwork and attendees can spend downtime relaxing.
- Skip the line.
For popular attractions, the convenience of skipping the line is certainly worth the price differential.
- Include refreshments and stress the health benefits of having food and beverages safely stored and served at the right temperature.
- Provide a guide.
Particularly at a destination with a foreign language, a guide can make the experience a lot more comfortable.
- Clearly communicate the fact that you are providing direct, private transportation and not delayed by stopping at a number of hotels to pick up other passengers.
- Highlight the availability of first aid assistance and quick access to medical care.
- Stress the fact that contingency plans and an emergency back-up plan are in place.
- Stress the importance of licensing and insurance.
Sometimes costs are lower because the provider is not licensed or insured. A Tourist Board underscored that during a presentation a couple of years ago. If something goes wrong, it's too late if it turns out the driver did not have a license and the operator had no insurance.
- Emphasize the safety and security of private transportation as opposed to public transportation, especially at foreign destinations.
I once picked up a taxi outside my hotel at a foreign destination. Usually, the bellman took down the driver's information but there was a rush and it wasn't done. A price was agreed on but when we were many blocks away from the hotel, the driver started speaking with me in a foreign language and laughing. I didn't understand him so he said it in English. He had jacked up the agreed upon price. With signage in a language that was not familiar to me, there was no way to find my way back to the hotel.
Something similar happened at another destination when the driver quoted one price to wait and jacked up the price by the end of the trip. Fortunately, the hotel had recorded his identity.
- Not to pick on cabs but stress the importance of not picking up random cabs off the beaten track, particularly after returning from a nightclub late at night.
DMCs do security and criminal background checks. In the quest to save a few dollars, some tourists have ended up with more than they bargained.
Photo Credit: Tristan Martin
In what other ways do DMCs add value?
How can event planners convey this value over simply selecting suppliers from the Internet or the phone book?