The Most Undervalued Ingredient in Selecting the Right DMC
Our take here at 360DG: Operational strength is the single most overlooked and undervalued component a top destination management company (DMC) needs to deliver for any program. A DMC can deliver jaw-dropping creative ideas, but if they can’t operate successfully, none of those creative decor ideas or corporate event themes matter.
As you can imagine given this stance, it figures prominently in our new DMC Evaluation Form we recently unrolled. Why did we create this downloadable form? We know it’s often next to impossible to compare proposals, apples to apples. All those visuals, ideas, and logistics, all presented in different ways. So we set out to create a true tool for corporate and third-party planners, one that would help give you the perspective you may need to make this decision, whether you’ve been working with the same DMC for the past 10 years or just getting into the industry. And that means we’re putting ourselves up to the mirror as well. We fully expect you to evaluate our 360 Destination Group offices the same way you would our destination management competitors, to identify the right fit for you.
In this post looking at just one component of what we provide in the form, we suggest you can think of the right operations structure as a big circle, from the time you sign the contract with the DMC to the post-program follow-up. Here, we break down five phases and how they all play a key role in helping you find the top DMC for you.
1. Sales-to-Operations Transition
How does the DMC’s sales team transition all of those discussions and details from the proposal stage to the operations team that’ll make it happen? For example, do they bring some of the operations team on your site visit? We do. We also use the final contract as the living, breathing document to execute this transition both internally and with the client so nothing gets lost. A game of telephone with lots of people involved is never a good thing.
2. The Right Language in Vendor Agreements
At some point, you have to trust that the DMC will put their trust in the right local vendors that they plan to work with. But you can safeguard that trust by making sure they have the right agreements in place: Do the contracts the DMC has vendors sign have the level of confidentiality your organization needs? Does this contract with vendors have similar language to what you put in the contract for the DMC to sign themselves?
3. Field Staff Onboarding
The same field staff very well could be working with multiple DMCs within the same destination. So it’s important that this field staff understands the expectations and approach that your DMC and your program will expect. It can come down to the frequency of in-person trainings the DMC hosts with field staff as well as some simple one-sheets, such as how we expect field staff to give, say, an electric boat tour in Newport Harbor, California.
4. A Devoted Operations Manager
We believe this one’s pretty simple: During your program, your DMC’s operations manager should be working on solely your program while it’s happening, never balancing two or more concurrent programs.
5. Post-program Procedures & Documents
Does this DMC have you complete a post-program survey or host a post-con call? Does their operations team develop a post-program recap report that’s uploaded to their CRM to share your program and organization’s unique needs with other offices? If you plan to work with them again, do they have master services agreements for working on agreed-upon terms across destinations so that contracting for future programs is easy and seamless?