Are you overlooking one of your most important allies this hotel RFP season?
Whether you are a veteran event planner searching for a location for an annual event you’ve produced for years, or you are anxiously assembling your first hotel RFP, one of your most important location selection collaborators can be your Destination Management Company (DMC) partner.
Selecting the perfect location for your event during hotel RFP season involves more than simply deciding on a particular city or hotel property. Your guests begin their attendee experience well before arrival in their hotel room, and their memories of an occasion will be colored by the activities and encounters — both negative and positive — outside their hotel and meeting rooms. Destination management companies are practiced event professionals who anticipate all the “ins and outs” of producing a flawless experience for your conference or incentive participants.
Here are some of the most frequent concerns meeting and event planners have about DMCs:
1. Using a DMC is so expensive.
“Expensive” is a subjective term that doesn’t consider the cost of not knowing the safest and most efficient way to transport your guests in a specific destination, the unique venues that will inspire them, the distinctive cultural offerings that are part of place’s “personality” — or the cost of making a mistake in timing, expense estimation, or vendor selection. DMCs stake their reputations on their experience in destination design, and on the tested relationships they have with their vendors.
2. DMC vs DMO (Destination Marketing Organizations, also known as tourism bureaus or CVBs)?
This doesn’t have to be an either-or question: Reputable DMCs are most often valued DMO partners. It is important to remember that while DMOs market their destinations, DMCs actually manage destination events. The best DMCs (like Relevé Unlimited) are continually educating their DMO and hotel partners about the latest destination products, i.e., dining options, cultural openings, new event venues, outdoor activities and teambuilding. DMCs often join forces with DMOs to support site visits, FAMs (familiarization tours) and tradeshows to answer planner questions about the nuts-and-bolts of operating an event — or how to take an event experience “above-and-beyond.”
3. But can’t I find destination ideas and vendors on the Internet, or from the CVB?
Sure. You can spend hours and days during hotel RFP season surfing the web, and then contact them all for pricing, check their references, arrange for payment, and cross your fingers. Your time has a value, though, and you won’t know if you’ve missed out on that quintessential experience that your attendees would cherish. And while the CVB may have lists of vendors for you, CVB salespersons most often are only allowed to suggest their members or marketing partners.
4. When should I contact DMCs for destination information or proposals?
- If you already have a rewarding relationship with a top-notch DMC, you might want to check to see if they are familiar or have operated programs in the destination you are considering for your meeting or incentive. If not….
- You’ll save the most time (and lessen your stress level) if you request DMC information at the same time you send your hotel RFP. Check the destination CVB’s website for local DMCs or ask your hotel sales person if they have a Preferred DMC List. When you contact DMCs before visiting a prospective destination, they often will assist you in planning your site visit so that you can learn as much about the area as possible in a short amount of time.
- If you’ve already selected your hotel or resort, you can still contact local DMCs for airport transportation quotes, event theming and décor proposals, and activity or teambuilding options.
5. How do I write a DMC RFP during hotel RFP season… or anytime of the year?
A good starting point for a DMC RFP (Request for Proposal) or RFQ (Request for Qualifications) is the APEX (Accepted Practices Exchange) initiative of the Events Industry Council (or “EIC” — the new name for the Convention Industry Council). You’ll find the industry standard Destination Management Company Template, as well as a hotel RFP template and the new APEX Event RFP Workbook on the APEX website.
Planning meetings and events can be lonely, and Event Coordinator has long been acknowledged as one of the most stressful jobs (#5 on the 2017 CareerCast.com list of the top stress-inducing jobs, as published in Forbes magazine): Save time, lessen stress, and gain a valuable team to support your event on the ground so that you can focus on your attendees and shine with your stakeholders when you contract with a DMC.