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Catherine Chaulet, President and CEO, Global DMC Partners

An Insider’s View of 2021: Destination Management Companies

DMCs may play a larger role in ensuring that event health-and-safety requirements are followed, says industry executive Catherine Chaulet.

MeetingsNet asked 21 events-industry thought leaders to weigh in with their predictions and perspectives for 2021. Find all the commentary here.

Catherine Chaulet

President and CEO 

Global DMC Partners

I expect 2021 to be mixed on the whole, with increased demand mostly during the latter part of the year. Undoubtedly, though, future meetings and events will look and feel differently than in years past; working with a DMC would help to mitigate the risks of operating in the changing environment.

According to our 2020 Q3 Meetings and Events Survey, 72 percent of planners are moving live events to either virtual or hybrid in 2021. Unfortunately, hybrid events mean additional costs and a bigger workload for already resource-scarce planners. In a virtual or hybrid setting, creativity will be equally or even more important than at in-person events. By relying on a DMC to handle some of the on-site components as well as the virtual components of their programs, planners can get the help they need to execute creatively.  

I also expect to see DMCs playing a greater role as on-the-ground experts as organizations return to face-to-face events. Health and sanitation rules and restrictions will continue to vary by organization and destination; as a result, DMCs' counsel on local guidelines will be invaluable. Our Q3 survey, also revealed that 63 percent of planners will host live events in the first half of 2021, though 63 percent are predicting average attendee numbers to decrease—57 percent expect less than 250 attendees at their largest in-person event in 2021. But these smaller events will require significantly more space than before; larger settings will be necessary for meals and other activities. I see availability becoming an issue in 2021, and planners looking to DMCs to help find engaging environments that adhere to social-distancing guidelines.

I also expect DMCs to play a larger role in contract negotiation, as cancellation, attrition, and health and safety requirements are subject to even greater scrutiny than before. Sadly, the pandemic affected many small DMCs as well as larger DMC networks. As a result, the competitive landscape has changed in many destinations, and client trust has been breached in some cases. It is now of the utmost importance for planners to do research and identify a trustworthy DMC to ensure that it can deliver in all areas, from vetting outside vendors and suppliers to providing global virtual-meeting support.  

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