HOW I LEARNED THE IMPORTANCE OF A DESTINATION MANAGEMENT COMPANY (DMC)
by Rachel Posada Fletcher, DES, SHW Program & Event Manager
For nearly a decade I ran non-profit events in various cities and never engaged a DMC for help. With limited budgets, I needed to do everything myself. Also, while I was aware of DMCs, I didn’t have a good understanding of how they could help me. It took just one bad experience at an event to convince me I needed a trusted DMC for support.
In 2021, my organization hosted a 3-day conference in Denver that involved, among many other things, transporting nearly 200 people around the city. Transportation was one of the last things on my ever-growing planning list and we were still in the midst of the COVID pandemic.
A month before the event, I booked transportation via a website that touted themselves as a “one-stop for all your group transportation needs with the lowest prices guaranteed!” I gave myself a pat on the back for finding such a great resource and checked it off my list.
Everything with the conference was going fine until one morning when we were shuttling attendees to three different locations in the city. I had ordered five coaches but only two were waiting in the staging area. I phoned my “one-stop bus shop” and they told me to call each coach company directly to get help. Ugh! Not so one-stop.
I was being pulled in three different directions but NEEDED to figure out where the missing coaches were.
At the same time, I learned the registration team needed my help and that breakfast was inexplicably delayed. I was being pulled in three different directions but NEEDED to figure out where the missing coaches were. After several phone calls and lost productivity, I located the missing coaches and discovered one wasn’t coming at all.
I had to think quickly to consolidate attendees onto four coaches and luckily, we got everyone off on their excursions. Then a bit more drama developed. One coach engine started smoking, leaving guests stranded on the interstate. Once again I had to troubleshoot on my own to rescue the guests. Ultimately everyone arrived safely to their destinations, but it could have been much less stressful had I had the help of an experienced, local DMC.
I learned that day that if you are doing an event in another city:
- Engage with an experienced, local DMC for recommendations and general logistics support. They know the ins-and-outs of their city and are truly the experts.
- Trust the DMC to guide you to reputable suppliers who will meet your service standards and budget parameters. Their historical knowledge of local suppliers is invaluable.
- Rely on the DMC for boots-on-the-ground support. When the unthinkable happens, they have your back!
Had I engaged a DMC, I would have learned about transportation provider options and chosen the best one for our conference and budget. Plus, they would have handled all the onsite issues I encountered. Most importantly, a DMC partner would have allowed me more time to focus on other things with the conference and planning, reducing my stress and mental frustration.
Coming from the non-profit world, I appreciate finding room in the budget for a DMC can sometimes be a challenge. However, when you weigh the discounts they receive from their suppliers, plus the onsite support in troubleshooting issues that inevitably come up with an event, you may find you actually come out ahead.
In the end you get what you pay for (one-stop shop, or not!). Please take my advice so you don’t find yourself alone, stressed out, and frustrated in the middle of your next important event.
Rachel Posada Fletcher, DES is an experienced event planner. She joined the SHW team last summer after a solid career managing events for non-profit organizations. SHW is one of the original DMCs in the country and now handles all event and meeting services from site sourcing to full event and meeting planning to video production services.