Let’s get to basics: What is a DMC?

At some level, everyone knows what a destination management company (DMC) is and what it does. DMCs are professional services companies that provide advice and assistance in the planning, design and execution of events—large and small. DMCs are viewed as local experts when it comes to sourcing logistical services and venues that are required in the execution of an event. The value of a destination management company is viewed as primarily resting in the company's extensive knowledge of the local area as well as its professional relationships and local resources. As such, a DMC can be of great help to a corporate event and meeting planner. This much is known and agreed upon.

The traditional way of looking at the value of a DMC was that a DMC brings to the table many measurable benefits including:

  • Only a local planner knows which caterers, transportations services, hotels, and other facilities will provide the best service within the available budget.

  • A local planner understands cultural norms and expectations--and knows when prices are being jacked up, or unnecessary extras are being added to a bill.

  • A local planner knows where and how to find the best entertainment, freshest food, most helpful staff, and best travel routes.

  • And many more such benefits.

A fresh way of looking at the value of a DMC is emerging; that is, to view it as an event planner’s partner in risk management. Some event planners choose to arrange for the ground services on their own to curtail the cost of rolling out an event. It is universally acknowledged that a destination management company maintains in-depth local knowledge of the area or region they represent, specifically with regards to the local coordination and implementation of everything from program and event logistics to event activities. As such, a DMC is essentially a highly specialized consultant for practically every aspect of planning an event.  In this role, DMCs are event planners’ best line of defense against risks that are commonly inherent in planning events—especially in the case of large scale and/or complex events.

Using a DMC can protect the event planner against inherent risks in these key areas:

  • Program Design: These services include venue selection and booking, the organization of event activities, and even event décor—all of which require keen attention to detail and multitude of contracts involved.

  • Logistics Management: These services include making an event timeline and schedule, booking transportation, if applicable, and even coordination of guest arrivals and departures—again all of which involve some degree of risk.

  • Supplier Management: These services include vendor selection and supplier price negotiation—an area that a DMC can add significant value.

  • Accounting: These services include auditing and payment of vendor invoices, financial negotiations, and providing detailed accounting to a client. 

A DMC’s abilities to help event planners manage and contain risk is becoming a far greater value proposition for hiring the DMC than the traditional role commonly associated with this profession.  A DMC can assist a corporate event planner in coordinating transportation, hotel accommodations, meals, and local activities. Each of these required services entails some degree of risk for the event planner should he/she decide to manage these independently.  While a DMC maintains relationships with all hospitality-related services in their area, the firm's primary value-add is the organization and planning of the main event itself whether it be a gala dinner, corporate meeting or conference, or a corporate incentive trip.

In addition to providing local expertise, a DMC also acts as one key contact throughout the event planning process. Often, the DMC will also be able to leverage lower prices by using their tremendous purchasing power to negotiate for preferential rates with local vendors and suppliers. 

For that peace of mind when hiring a DMC, look for the following qualifications:

  • The range of services provided: Some DMCs specialize is a limited range of services—which may run counter to the value an event planner may be seeking.

  • The length of service: Longevity speaks volumes especially in an industry characterized by low barriers to entry.

  • The experience of staff: As a professional services company, a DMC is the sum of its key human resources including their know-how and established relationships within the industry

  • Adequate general liability insurance coverage: As an entity to help event planner manage and curtail risk, the DMC’s general liability insurance becomes paramount in its ability to serve its corporate clients.

  • References: Of course, good DMCs come with a long list of happy clients.

To choose a DMC with solid credentials in managing risk, call the professionals at GMS DMC, which bring to the table over 23 years of service.