A DMC (Destination Management Company) / ground agent is our right arm and a huge part of our success as a company but with a world that is so connected and information so freely available, are they as relevant today as they have always been? If you want your incentive to be the absolute best it can then yes, they are so relevant. I have never run an overseas incentive without one, and never will. I have listened in astonishment to all sorts of incentive horror stories over the years and more often than not, the agency is question “organised it ourselves”.
No DMC, no local knowledge and most importantly, no back-up. We are a very DMC friendly agency and after 30 years specialising in incentive travel, we have a huge and very trusted network in place. A DMC works side by side with us to develop the foundations of what is already there, they explore our ideas when we push barriers to get the right results for our clients and they use their extensive network of local suppliers to make things happen. And they are honest with us when our imagination is running a little too wild! Do they add to the cost – of course they do, but so does everything if you want something to be perfect. We know what our clients expect and they know that we know what we are doing, but they also know that we have a team in place to do this.
It’s a perfect partnership. We have the knowledge of our client, knowing what make them tick and the experience of putting together that first class incentive that they are looking for, and a DMC has the vast experience and up to date knowledge of what their destination has to offer and we trust that knowledge.
Onsite, we and our DMC’s really earn our money if something doesn’t go to plan due to weather problems or forces beyond anyone’s control. I was always told from very early on in my career that how you respond to a problem is how you are measured. That’s where the true benefit of a DMC comes to fruition. Them having a Plan B, C D on speed dial is why they are invaluable. I had a group of 160 people sitting with me on the runway ready for an overnight flight to Mauritius when the plane went technical – everybody off.
My colleagues who were sitting with our client in Mauritius when the news came through and although it was late in the evening, our fabulous DMC team started the process as the whole programme needed re-arranging especially the catamarans the next day which would now have to be the next, next day. But, here’s the but…The catamarans were not available the next, next day as they had another booking but our guys put a lot of business their way and got THE biggest favour so we got our catamarans.
This negotiation went on for a long time but our team got it sorted and the other booking was honoured with another supplier. Could we have got the favour – we will never know but it’s doubtful. Bear in mind, whilst all this is going on, the Ulterior team were looking after the client at the resort and working through other changes that would come into effect. The most crucial thing to remember is the group, who’ve lost a day of their hard earned incentive so when they arrived a day later to a reduced but tighter itinerary and the catamarans were ready and waiting, they were none the wiser to what happened the day before, but we and our DMC, and particularly our client were well aware of all the favours that were called in.
We had the most beautiful street party set up in Hoi An in Vietnam and literally just as the guests sat down, an unexpected storm broke, but before you could say…”I think it’s going to ra……”, our DMC had 120 ponchos for the guests. Could we have found 120 ponchos in a couple of minutes? Probably not. Maybe fifteen minutes but by then the guests would have been soaked and we would have been running around like headless chickens and that’s not what our client wants or expects. They expect instant solutions to problems and wherever you are in the world, you need people by your side who know how to find the solutions. Blimey, did it rain – If you had a bowl of soup it was never ending!
I honestly believe Ulterior wouldn’t have the 30 years of successful history that it has today without the support and trust in our DMCs. We will always promote the fact that we use DMC’s to our clients and the value that they bring, and after an event when we hear words from our clients and their customers like seamless, excellent attention to detail, exceeded expectations these are not just down to us they are the result of a great partnerships with one goal!
Written by Fiona Thompson