(and some ideas on how to find a good one)
Since you, I am sure, religiously read all of my blogs and newsletters, you will recognize this oft-asked question as a continuation of the deep philosophical discussion… to third party or not to third party.
For the uninitiated, DMC stands for Destination Management Company, a sub-set of full-service event management companies whose expertise is tied to specific destinations. They are from there, know everyone, know the language and culture, know whom to ask for what, whom to avoid and whom to bribe… and know where to find a three-hole punch at two o’clock in the morning if that’s what you need.
Or put another way… when you hire a full-service third-party event management company to help you anywhere outside of your home city, most likely they will sub-contract a lot of it to a DMC. Yes, the mark-up upon mark-up thing. But remember… it’s like buying insurance. The cost of a failure will usually far outweigh the cost of the insurance of having local expertise, and the full-service experts know what they know and what they don’t know.
Or put another way… if you have any sort of event outside of your home country and you do not hire a DMC to handle at least some of it for you… you are asking for trouble.
Or put another way… we had a large group arriving in Acapulco. An abnormal amount of luggage went missing upon arrival. The airlines could not find it. The following morning our DMC took us to the “thieves market” in a very non-tourist part of the city and… there they were. Apparently unopened and being sold as a “set”. I am not making this up.
After a lengthy negotiation in Spanish between our DMC and the “proprietor”, we settled on a reasonable price and brought it all back to the hotel and our attendees. So I ask you… could you have done that directly and cut out the middleman? I’ve got dozens of war stories like that.
Or put another way… If you have a small well-traveled group and you are not going to do much of anything outside your hotel (and you speak the language or have a local employee that does), then maybe you can take a chance and do it all yourself… find the right vendors, negotiate and sign contracts, have the time to manage it and follow through, and all of that meeting planning stuff. Anything slightly more complicated than that… at least get some bids from some reputable and vetted DMCs.
And speaking of some reputable and vetted DMCs… here are some suggestions (it’s a start) and I will continue to add to the list over time. IMPORTANT NOTE… I have done business with these folks and have even come to consider many of them my friends… and I know they are really good at what they do… but just because I have always had a great experience, I can never guarantee you will. So whatever you do and wherever you go, do your homework, get everything in writing, check the invoices, and treat everyone, everywhere with the utmost respect because that really pays off (not just in business but in life).
And one more thing. We are a free referral service so if you want to be introduced to anyone of these, or any other reputable and vetted DMCs anywhere in the world, just ask. We like to do that.
If you are going anywhere in Mexico, Central or South America try…
IVI DMC2 ENTERPRISES (www.ividmc.com)
Jose Manuel Garcia (Sr.), IVI’s founder and self-styled visionary, is one of those iconic industry personalities that you owe it to yourself to meet someday. He started the original biz in Cancun back in 1986, and has expanded over the years with offices serving 40 cities in 13 Latin American countries (and I think a 14th country is on the way). Having grown up in the business, his son, Jose-Manuel (Manolo) Garcia has taken over as President to run things day to day, but the senior JMG is still (very much) doing the visionary thing.
Why do I recommend them other than that they have never let me down? If you check out their web site you will see they have all of that accreditation, liability and insurance stuff, plus a thirty-year history with a great client list. That doesn’t happen by being bad at what they do.
PLATINUM DMC COLLECTION (www.platinumdmc.com)
Colleen Abernathy, Platinum DMCs founder is also one of those industry “folks” that have been in and around the DMC Universe since the beginning (note- she is younger than me). Colleen does not own and operate a particular DMC, but is the US based representative for the best of the best DMCs in 31 Countries (and no, I am not going to list them all here). If you visit their web site and see that they have a DMC in the country you want, you can rest assured it is a good one.
Send Colleen a message and she will not only get back to you right away, she’ll put together the RFP, get it to her people, ride herd on them so they get an answer to you right away, and then stick with you the whole time to make sure everyone is happy. She’s good that way.
Global DMC Partners (www.globaldmcpartners.com)
Ready for this? This is a network of the top DMCs in 151 different destinations. Yes, I said 151. So consider this (and IVI and Platinum) as Cool Online Resources that I am happy to share.
I mean… first you should just ask me and I will hook you up… but if you don’t ever want to interact with me (occasionally that happens), you can check them out directly, pick a destination and submit an RFP online. One of their regional sales people will contact you, go over your RFP asking questions and making suggestions, and then connect you directly with their DMC member in any (or all) of their destinations. Presumably you would not want to check all 151 destinations at the same time, but I will let them deal with that if it comes up. :)