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Destination management companies should keep local flavour, foundation warns

Incentive Research Foundation releases recommendations after planners list DMC local knowledge as top strength

Pictured: Melissa Van Dyke, president of Incentive Research Foundation (IRF)

Destination management companies (DMCs) should continue to create larger networks but not lose sight of their local strengths, the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) has warned.

The IRF has released a list of recommendations for DMCs following a survey of 200 meeting planners and DMCs, which found local knowledge was a key selling point for DMCs.

The survey, designed to explore the strengths and weaknesses of DMC-meeting planner relationships, assessed other variances such as the impact of social media.

The surveyed meeting planners said DMCs' biggest strength was local knowledge (scoring an average 4.55 out of 5), while DMCs agreed their forte was local knowledge (4.82) but also guaranteed event quality (4.82).

The two groups disagreed on what DMCs' biggest weaknesses were; DMCs said it was misunderstood value (3.07) and lack of collaboration among DMCs (3.14), while meeting planners suggesting it was lack of creativity (3.28) and replaceable services (3.39).

Both groups agreed internet search engines and hotels' in-house DMCs were key threats, while social media was viewed as both a threat and an enabler.

IRF president Melissa Van Dyke said trust also emerged as a key concept.

“The research showed us how building a long-term commitment between a DMC and a meeting planner radiated around trust,” she said.

“Each party’s opportunistic behaviour, their engagement in communications, and their mutual financial dependence were key determinants of that trust.” 

The IRF has released a list of suggestions for DMCs, including "work with larger DMC consortiums to create regional, national or global partnerships, but do not lose the unique, customisable programmes for which local DMCs are known". Other suggestions were;

- Continue building strong, dynamic networks of local expertise and vendors

- Proactively use new social media technologies to provide more convenient services

- Provide a “satisfaction guarantee” for DMC services

- Build stronger international site inspections to highlight language and local cultural/ legal differences

- Develop and better promote DMCs’ risk management services

- Develop informational programmes and demos that both raise the visibility and clarify the value of DMC services

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