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Destination management companies 101

Destination Management Companies (DMCs) are some of the most powerful and valuable tools at meeting planners’ disposal when crafting a successful event. These professional services companies possess extensive local knowledge and resources meant to assist with customized event planning, entertainment, transportation, and other services.

A number of Chicago DMCs weighed in to provide insight on what a DMC actually does, how the process works, how to find a reputable organization, and what services can be mined from the company.

1. What is a DMC?

The team at Revel Global Events believes destination management focuses on the need for on-the-ground, local professionals to assist with event planning using a variety of services more easily accomplished with local expertise and “know how.”

As a habit, DMCs should say yes to any and all requests. Once needs are established and group demographics and goals/expectations are clearly defined, the DMC creates a comprehensive plan of service for the client. As soon as everything is approved, the client can focus on their business and enjoy Chicago as intended.

DMCs’ services can include:

  • Meetings & conference management
  • Local tours & excursions
  • Special events
  • Product launches
  • Program logistics
  • Transportation logistics
  • Event production (including decor, entertainment, lighting, and floral)

2. How does a DMC work?

DMCs are experts in their own destination. When programs and meetings come to a destination like Chicago, options for transportation, off-site venues, dinners, etc. can be long, complex, and confusing.

Yet an organization like CTC Destination Management, a DMC Network Company, which has worked in the market since 1989, knows the suppliers that offer higher levels of service and are capable of handling the type of client and group coming to town.

Chris Baker, Owner/Sales & Marketing, says that instead of the client reaching out to individual suppliers, they need just place one call to the DMC and all suppliers will be handled for the client, knowing which ones work for that specific group. Once the group is onsite, CTC has full-time team members that will work directly with the group, assuring them they are receiving the highest level of service. When it comes to billing, the client receives one invoice instead of a multitude of supplier invoices from each aspect of the program.

3. Why use a DMC?

Using a DMC truly is a consultative one-stop-shop approach to program design/development, delivery/execution and customization to meet any client specific requirements. According to Heather Brown, Regional General Manager at PRA Chicago, her organization redefines destination management by working in partnership with clients to create lasting experiences, to maximize returns on objectives and to guarantee peace of mind using their global reach, local expertise, and solutions-oriented approach.

PRA’s team represents years of experience exceeding client expectations and satisfaction, according to Brown. They consider themselves ambassadors of not only the destination that they love, but the industry, their clients, and the PRA brand.

4. How does one find a reputable DMC?

One size doesn’t always fit all when it comes to a DMC, according to the Revel Global Events team. Look for the right size company, the largest company may not have the proper time to spend on your event because they have so many others and the smallest company might not have the appropriate staff or experience to produce it. There are also many great resources to find reputable business, from BizBash to Convene to Choose Chicago. Their resource listings are a great place to start. They also suggest always asking for recent references from companies that had similar sized programs. Past clients can be your best resource!

5. What are some of the most popular services you have offered to clients?

Baker said special events at off-site venues, themed events, dinners, transportation services (including arrival and departure services at both O’Hare and Midway) and team building services continue to be most popular.

Tours and activities that are “authentically Chicago” are always a number one preference for clients, according to Bellas — something that could not be experienced in any other city in the world. Specialized local tours that highlight our great jazz and blues history, as well as our fabulous architecture are musts.

Plenty of clients have arranged events around Chicago’s storied sports franchises, wanting to get up and close at big games.

A common thread among all services is transportation and staffing for events, appearing on almost every request. To some, said Bellas, these may seem secondary to the “main event” — however, clients absolutely count on DMCs such as AlliedPRA to have outstanding city transportation knowledge, appropriate vehicles for every group size, and staff that is “interesting, awesome and that display the best of Midwestern hospitality.”

For more information about Destination Management Companies and the services they offer, please visit PRA ChicagoCTC Destination Management, a DMC Network Company; and Revel Global Events.


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