You’ve decided to hire a DMC, or Destination Management Company, to help you plan your conference or event… but how do you pick the right one? Whether you’re looking for transportation, event planning services, logistics, décor, dine-arounds, off site excursions, entertainment, or a combination of services, here are 10 things to consider when hiring a DMC:
- Longevity and Experience. One of the most important factors to consider when hiring a DMC is how long the company has been in business. Because a DMC’s value lies in their extensive knowledge of a destination, hiring a DMC with years of experience can be the difference between creating a good event and an incredible event. Experienced DMCs will have the knowledge and connections necessary to make your time in a new city relaxing, enjoyable, and memorable.
- Locally-owned vs National: Where are the DMC’s headquarters located, and does it matter? This depends on your event and your priorities. Some DMCs are national (or international), with branches and locations across the country and even the world. Think of national DMCs as big box chains, like Walmart. These larger national DMCs typically have to meet rules imposed by the organization, where the final decision maker can be located in a corporate office such as New York or Los Angeles. On the other hand, “boutique” DMCs are local to a city and typically have more of a mom-and-pop vibe. A locally-owned DMC can have all of the resources a national DMC has, but that local DMC will give you personalized attention. When choosing a DMC, it helps to think about how potential problems will be solved: can they be quickly taken care of at a local level, or will every decision be a huge hurdle with lots of red tape?
- Staff Location: As mentioned above, location is important. Always ask a DMC where their staff is located and how many employees they have working in the market. Having staff in the market where your event is taking place is extremely beneficial when planning an event or conference. It is likely any DMC (national or locally-owned) will have sales staff based in the destination, which is imperative in finding the right services, venues and vendors during the planning stages. However, it is much less common for the DMC to have a full time operations staff in the destination. Many DMCs rely on contractors and temp agencies to fulfill their staffing needs when it comes time to producing the event. Since these staffers don’t typically work together on the day-to-day, they are susceptible to issues with communication and efficiency onsite. Additionally, temp staffers and contractors don’t have an added level of ownership in the company they are representing that a full-time staffer would, therefore quality standards and the level of staff expertise are compromised as well. Ideally, you want to find a DMC that can plan and produce the event using their in-house team to avoid these potential issues.
- Creativity: For some people, creativity isn’t the first thing they consider when hiring a Destination Management Company, but it’s definitely something to think about. You’re visiting a new city to explore someplace new, so you probably don’t want a cookie-cutter event that could happen anywhere. Guests should experience the unique culture and flavor of the city, so look for a DMC that celebrates their city through their events. Review the programs the DMC has produced in the past. Are the events special? Do they showcase the best a city has to offer in a unique way? If you want an event, teambuild, retreat, or conference that is new and exciting to your group, definitely consider the creativity of the DMC during the hiring process.
- Vision: Because a Destination Management Company is producing an event for you, it’s important that the DMC’s vision aligns with yours. Consider what services the DMC specializes in. Maybe the DMC specializes in transportation and logistics, but you’re looking primarily for décor, photography, and entertainment. While most DMCs have a wide range of services, don’t overlook what they are best known for! Make sure that the DMC you hire has a vision that works with yours.
- Past Work and Photos: They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so be sure to look at photos and videos of past events that the DMC has produced! If you see event photos on a DMC’s website, ask if they are stock photos or pictures from their previous events. Ask questions about their previous programs, too. How big are the programs they’ve done in the past? If you’re a group of 1,000 people and a DMC typically produces events for 200 guests or less, you might want to research other DMCs who are well-versed in working with large groups.
- Testimonials from Clients: This is a big one! Before hiring a DMC, look or ask for client testimonials. Many DMCs will have testimonials on their website, but don’t overlook Google reviews, Facebook, or Yelp.
- Outsourcing: Because DMCs offer so many services, some outsourcing is necessary. You’re paying a DMC for their knowledge and connections, after all. But it’s always worth it to ask what a DMC can provide in-house, especially if you are looking to rent props and décor. Look for a DMC that owns their own décor pieces, which can save you money in the long run. If you’re interested in event décor, it’s worth asking a DMC if they own their own props or if they outsource their décor.
- Full-service DMC vs Middleman: When you work with a DMC, you’re working with a trained and knowledgeable staff from start to finish. It’s always worth asking if the DMC is full-service. A full-service DMC can provide everything you could want when planning an event, from transportation to entertainment to team building and more, plus many in-house services. Full-service DMCs offer many services in-house, which saves their clients money. A middleman, on the other hand, might outsource more and therefore cost you more.
- Vendor Relationships: Working with a DMC usually means you will also be working with local vendors. If the DMC doesn’t offer a particular service, ask if they have preferred vendors that they work with. A good DMC will have preferred vendors that they’ve cultivated relationships with over the years. The best events are planned with a solid, trustworthy team, so a DMC with strong vendor relationships is definitely something to look for.
Hiring a DMC can seem daunting, but there’s a DMC out there that has everything you’re looking for. if you follow the steps outlined above, the process won’t seem so intimidating. Good luck!