Crazy exchange rates, crazy lead times and—on occasions—crazy clients. These challenges are all in day's work for big destination management companies. The 11th annual Special Events "25 Top DMCs" feature will appear later this month. For a taste of 2015-16 trends, read on:
ACCESS Destination Services
TRENDS TO WATCH More than ever, meeting planners are eager to create unique and powerful experiences for their groups, management says. "It’s about so much more than just the color of the linens or arrangement of the centerpieces--inspiring, shared experiences are more meaningful and memorable and help people connect on a deeper level, and more and more planners are considering this when evaluating the capabilities of a DMC partner."
Advantage Destination and Meetings Services
North Miami Beach, Fla.
TRENDS TO WATCH With an uptick in the U.S. dollar, "We see a trend of larger budgets, larger group sizes and more spending on DMC services on the domestic front and pullback from international groups due to the weakening euro," management says. The Advantage team stresses education for its team, with eight staffers taking the DMCP exam shortly.
TRENDS TO WATCH Clients seem to be looking for a customized solution to both entertainment and team-building experiences, management says: "They don’t want an-off-the-shelf product, but something designed just for them." Lead times remain short but the economy is picking up, with increased spend on the overall experience and not just the necessities, such as transportation and F&B.
Dallas Fan Fares
TRENDS TO WATCH Clients are very educated about their options, management says; they want an event that resonates and holds value for the attendee by touching attendees on an emotional level using all senses.
Destination Concepts Inc.
TRENDS TO WATCH Millennial clients are looking to DMCs to be a total extension of them, management says: "It’s crucial to show how we can help them achieve their goals both on the creative side and logistical side as a partner." Another big driver: "Pop culture is playing a huge role in design direction. Clients see concepts in every form of media--TV, film, print, online--and want DMCs to recreate that experience for their guests."
Hello! Destination Management
TRENDS TO WATCH How to succeed today: "For forward-thinking DMCs, shifting from being providers of services to creative partners in experiential meeting and program design."
Kuoni Destination Management
Zurich, Switzerland; New York
TRENDS TO WATCH Management has had to grapple with economic crises and political instability in some markets along with the ubiquitous DMC challenge of erratic booking patterns. And then there's the ongoing headache of shorter lead times: "Clients are asking for customized solutions but do not provide much lead time allowing for high-quality customized proposals," they say.
TRENDS TO WATCH "Conferences and event programs are moving away from kitschy themed events to creating whole brand experiences," management notes. "Mobile apps are no longer a luxury, but a necessity for large conferences and events." And doing good is getting big: "Incorporating an interactive philanthropic team building activity into your meeting, conference or event is becoming wildly popular."
Ovation Global DMC
TRENDS TO WATCH "Ovation is seeing a resurgence in spend on incentives in the past year," management says. "The dollar/euro exchange rate is favoring our European offices at present and, consequently, the spend and number of enquiries from the U.S. is on the up. We saw a slight reversal of the trend for merging corporate meetings into incentive programs--we ran more ‘pure incentives’ last year than in the five years previous.”
360 Destination Group
TRENDS TO WATCH The big trend: Keeping attendees engaged, guessing and excited. "As millennials and Gen Y are becoming more involved in events, we must come up with innovative event formats that use technology as a complete tool. Analytics, apps, social media and interactivity are forcing program content to be relevant, cool, trend-pushing and memorable," they say. Also important: Hotels are full and space is more limited than in many years, making planners look more into the future to plan to accommodate budgets, space and DMC needs.
This isn't all--for the full story, see the July-August issue of Special Events. Not a subscriber? We can fix that—just click here.