In a recent webinar organized by empowerMINT, the online tool created by Destination Marketing Association International that gives meeting planners details on meeting locations and venues along with direct access to local destination marketing organization contacts, two experts discussed the differences and common purpose of destination marketing organizations, or DMOs, and destination management companies, or DMCs.
The experts: Terri Roberts, training and communications manager, empowerMINT, DMAI; and Annette Gregg, CMM, vice president, Corporate West, for AlliedPRA.
Here are 16 takeaways from the discussion.
1. A DMO is a CVB. The term “convention and visitors bureau” is more familiar to meeting planners than “destination marketing organization,” but they refer to the same thing: the entity that is responsible for the marketing of, and is the economic engine for, an entire destination. DMO is the preferred term these days; however, it takes time to change a brand, so both acronyms are still in use.
DMAI had been IACVB, the International Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus, until its rebranding in 2005. (Side note: DMAI celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2014. Here’s a cool timeline marketing the milestones of this slice of the travel and meetings industry.)
2. DMCs are among the members of DMOs.
3. There are now 4,200 DMOs globally and 1,450 in the U.S.
4. DMOs prefer planners to contact them before they put together their hotel RFPs. DMOs can offer a comprehensive view of a destination, tap into local expertise, and introduce planer to like-minded local organizations or luminaries.
5. DMOs are not interested only in citywides or in groups that want to use the convention center. They also work with groups that have as little as 20 or 30 rooms on their peak night.
6. Using a DMO does not cost a planner anything. But they don’t work for free. DMOs are funded by their stakeholder members and through taxes.
7. A DMO’s four main jobs for meetings are:
• Promotion of the meeting
• Comprehensive site inspections
• Local contacts and resources (and advocacy, when needed)
• Conference services (logistical support)
8. DMOs offer fresh perspectives and specialized knowledge: They’ve seen a thousand meetings come through the destination, and they can get creative with yours.
9. In some destinations, DMOs may be restricted to helping you only if you haven’t yet booked your meeting hotel. However, even if you know exactly what hotel you’re going to use, as long as you haven’t booked it, you still can start with a DMO for local contacts or on-site help.
10. DMOs and DMCs are not competitors—they both want to bring your meeting to their destination and have it turn out great. The DMO hands the baton to a DMC when the planner needs design work, strategy work, or to coordinate multiple vendors.
11. The four main reasons planners use DMCs, based on an AlliedPRA survey are:
• Operational expertise specific to the destination
• On-site logistical/operational excellence
12. A DMC’s traditional services include designing and implementing events; coordinating activities and tours; ground transportation; and on-site staffing.
13. DMCs’ roles are evolving as they begin to offer nontraditional services such as: destination recommendations (this is especially true for DMCs that are part of a network of offices nationwide or even worldwide); registration software; and surveys or ROE measurement.
14. DMCs charge for their services in different ways, sometimes marking up their hard costs and other times charging a lump-sum management fee, depending upon client preference.
15. DMOs and DMCs want to collaborate on meetings, and this is most easily done when a planner brings everybody to the table together and shares who’s been asked to help with which meeting elements.
16. DMOs know what’s going on in their destinations: Even if you’re a space hog (i.e., you need meeting space but only a couple of sleeping rooms), a DMO might know of hotels with sleeping-room-only blocks during a citywide convention. That’s one case where a hotel could be available to a group that needs meeting space only.
EmpowerMINT’s next webinar, “Hindsight is 20/20: Post-Event Reporting,” is coming up October 20. Click for content and registration information.