As much as you may be a professional who understands what is required for each meeting that you are responsible for, the busy nature of your job makes it close to impossible to handle all details of some projects on your own. When the size of a meeting is substantial, there is limited time between events and sessions or you can also hinder your operations from having inadequate or lack of staff. You will need another version of yourself. While there can never be a second you, you can get something that comes close to it. Regardless of where you plan to hold your meeting or project, a destination management company can offer the help you need. The field concerned with meetings management has a new association, one that aims to demystify the unseen aspect of the invisible meetings industry.

Development of the industry

While the term “Destination Management Company” is comparatively new, the companies it is used to describe are far from new. About 30 years ago, clients looking to rent different types of vans, buses and limousines from transport companies grew in number. This was as a result of growth in both the number and size of meetings and conferences. With the rise in the number of meetings, a good number of clients started requesting other services besides transportation equipment. The transportation companies tried to satisfy these new needs, leading to the emergence of the name “ground operator”.

During the U.S economic recession of the early 1980s, some organisations in sectors of the economy that were affected by the meltdown were forced to downsize. Although these organisations lay off their meeting professionals, they soon found out that they still needed professionals to perform the same services for them. They decided to hire them back, only this time on a short-time basis as independent contractors. As such, the professionals had to work for several companies or organisations to continue in this profession.

They also had to familiarize themselves with issues such as the specific locations in which they provide their services, the company with the most reliable buses, the entertainers that would be available at certain times, whether they needed a permit to hold picnics in a park, where and how to get the permits if any was needed, the cost of the project as well as the rules and regulations that governed how such picnics, concerts or ball games will be held. The meeting professionals also had to learn more about the history of the area, a factor that gave more information on whether there were sufficient and well-versed guides to show them to the areas of interest. They also had to identify the restaurants and venues that could accommodate a given group size, determine whether box lunches were an option and know where to get them if at all they were.

Challenges in the early stages

These were just some of the issues that destination management practitioners faced at this point. They had to know the while above at the same time be in a position to establish how to set up the small businesses that they were fast becoming.

The professionals also had to identify and establish the kind of marketing, networking and organisations that would be best for their young companies. With the knowledge that many of them had gathered in the meetings management sphere, they had a clear understanding of the reason to maintain their familiarity in the industry by joining meeting-related organisations such as PCMA, MPI, ASAE, among others. All these professionals shared and still share a common factor – a “can-do” spirit and attitude. In case they had never offered a given service that a client needed, they always found a way to perform it!

The growth of the field

With the destination management element growing and becoming more established, meeting professionals constantly depend on the centrepieces to help them deal with projects that present tough challenges.

In most cases, there will not be adequate time and space for the meeting manager to seek all the required answers when handling different projects and components. However, a professional in destination management understand that they must know about the unique features and aspects of a certain destination. This means that they will work towards becoming experts in logistics and events relating to that particular destination.

They will seek to identify the locations that are available, the costs of the various sites available, the persons to be contacted and how to get everything working in harmony. The staff member will be educated on every necessary aspect on a continuous basis.

At the same time, quality independent contractors will be investigated and recruited for their talents and exceptional skills. Usually, the people most of them use are those that are recommended by professionals who have carried out some outstanding project work.

This means that a group of around 150 contractors can work on larger events. The most crucial thing is to ensure that the staff assigned to a project will live up to the expectations of the meeting planner.

Formation of relevant associations

The formation of an educational association for this field is another indication that the industry is maturing. The objectives of this association include raising the level of professionalism, finding out better ways of conducting business and serving clients as well as letting customers know what to look forward to when working with a destination management company. In this regard, on June 24, 1995, ADME, an abbreviation for Association of Destination Management Executives was formed. During the organisation’s first Annual Conference held in January 1996, meeting professionals drawn from both association and corporate spheres were part of the first-ever speakers.

For any meeting planner, destination management companies are comparable to architects and contractors. The companies come up with written proposals, outlining ideas that guide the decisions to be made. They then execute their work in line with these decisions. In the end, the companies will become your main outsource partner beyond exhibit halls and education sessions, much like the Decorating Companies in these halls or the convention services manager appear more like add-ons to the staff in your organisation.

Why a destination management company?

The following are some of the services you can expect from these companies. However, this will depend on an individual company as well as the specialty of their staff.

Creative proposals covering events within the meeting, transportation and amenities for VIPs, guest tours, picnics, team building and other outdoor activities, ensuring proper staffing at the convention centre, shuttle services that could help in future planning, developing the theme as well as décor, Making plans for entertainment, sound and lighting, registration services both advance and onsite, meeting their management professionals and housing.

Finding a reliable DMC

The companies are also in a position to provide any other service that may be requested by a meeting planner to make an event successful. How do you go about finding the final outsource partner to help meet your unique needs? Wherever you may be located, you can start your search at the Convention and Visitors Bureau or online. Serious professionals will also be members of the relevant professional organisations. You should also consider requesting a colleague to recommend one in the surrounding area personally. In case you worked for a company previously, you can ask them to refer you to someone else. As you consider various companies, you can decide whether you will be opting for a regular DMC or a Quality Assured DMC, which recognised by the Malta Tourism Authority.

Whichever destination you choose, you should always use a destination management company. In addition to having the latest and current information on cultural activities, sports events as well as fun and facts, working with a company will save you both time and effort. As a meeting planner, you will be in a better position to make the most of every single meeting and event. The move will also allow your staff to focus on duties and details that relate to the organisation.