The role of the DMC could become increasingly important as clients and agencies require additional local support to make sure their events are Covid-secure, according to a panel of DMC representatives and their DMCs.
During our extended micebook talks event last week, a huddle session hosted by AbleMaxx with Global DMC Partners in partnership with The DMC Advantage, Just The Letter B and three of the DMCs they represent, discussed how DMCs can help agencies and clients safely deliver overseas events now that global lockdown and travel restrictions are beginning to ease.
Chris Bason, Account Director, Global DMC Partners at AbleMaxx said: “Where a client might have flown to a location with a team of five. I’m getting lots of requests for individual staffing because I’m assuming it’s going to be safer for UK staff to stay at home and use that local support instead.”
Just The Letter B Director Henriette Speed agreed: “I think we were already seeing quite a bit of that pre-Covid. But going forward I think the role of the DMC is shifting. The importance of trying to navigate all the local guidelines that you are going to be experiencing as an agency travelling to lots of different locations and countries. That’s where I think a DMC is going to be key in really making sure everything is adhered to right down the entire supply chain.”
The panel agreed that DMCs will be invaluable in managing the local supply chain and making sure that suppliers are doing what is required with respect to keeping groups safe. “You need someone local to make sure that transport companies are not overloading mini vans and ensure restaurants are adhering to social distancing. The DMC role is more and more key now,” added Bason.
In terms of making sure that delegates adhere to local rules, Amsterdam-based Performance Travel DMC Owner Daan Riemeijer says that staffing and communication are key. “You need to make sure you have additional staffing, and communication – repeat, repeat, repeat. And be a bit strict too.”
Green Route Africa’s Kerry Roos pointed out that it’s not just about adhering to the local standards in terms of health and safety. “What the requirements are in South Africa or Kenya, for example are going to be very different to what the requirements are in the UK. So it’s about making sure your DMC understands what the level of requirements are coming out of the UK and making sure we are passing that down the supply chain and making sure they are adhering to that.”
The session also covered how destinations and DMCs can promote their regional assets to provide safe, socially-distanced events. For example, Speed pointed out that many African destinations lend themselves very well to remote, off the beaten track locations. “You can take over a safari lodge exclusively and create your own little bubble, without compromising the experience. In Africa, lots of these places are remote, and game drives tend to be small groups anyway, so you are not losing out on the experience.”
Roos added that it opens up some venues and destinations that would have been more targeted at leisure travel because they were too small for the MICE market. “I think in the next 12 to 18 months, incentive groups will be much smaller, which means some of those unique properties in destinations like Namibia that would have been used more for the leisure side, with say 10, 15 or 20 rooms, will be of more interest on the incentive side… In many ways, the smaller boutique properties have more flexibility to meet these new Covid requirements and DMCs can work with properties to educate them.”
Tam Costa Rica DMC’s Raquel Montoya agreed, and said this is an opportunity for clients to discover new places that they wouldn’t usually visit. “Usually our groups are 20-300 so they only stay at larger properties and resorts. Right now we are encouraging groups to think about splitting and coming in waves. This gives them the opportunity to try smaller boutique properties located deeper in the rainforest.”
She added that the pandemic has given the DMC time to focus on its offerings. “We have new products that focus on what’s unique about Costa Rica, for example sustainability. DMCS can get creative and look at the things that are truly ours and authentic and unique to our destinations.”
Speed agreed: “Once DMCs really get creative, they can dig deep into what their local culture offers that lends itself well to the challenging times we are facing. For example, in Italy, you have Venetian Balls, which require guests to wear gloves and masks.”