The tourism service market is quite vast. Because online and physical travel companies offer a diverse variety of services to diverse clients, they seldom have access to the resources at the proximate destination. So, who does it? DMCs, or destination management companies, are the vital connection that connects passengers and service providers. Their greatest strength is local expertise, which ranges from local languages to the top tourist attractions to the most genuine dining establishments. These speciality players provide several options to travel agents. We chatted with a few industry executives who deal with destination management firms to see how agencies might benefit from engaging with destination companies and how they could facilitate this engagement.
How Destination Management Companies Work
When meeting and convention planners discovered a desire for specialised leisure activities for groups in the 1960s, they recognised the necessity for certain local travel representatives. To express the new function of local destination and logistics specialists, the name destination management business was established. However, DMCs should not be confused with DMOs - Destination Marketing Organizations - which are charities targeted at boosting a location's competitiveness as a tourist destination. Destination Management Companies act as go-betweens for a network of local providers and travel agencies, which then resell those services to tourists. They work in the tourist product and service distribution chain. Let us investigate more. DMCs negotiate discounted pricing and create on-the-spot deals with several, distinct providers such as local hotels, restaurants, guides, vehicle rental businesses, and so on. The services are then mixed and matched, packaged into appealing bundles, and resold. Domestic suppliers receive digital representation (if they do not already have it) and marketing. DMCs now serve as a single point of contact for both B2B and B2C clients. As a B2B customer, a travel agency connects to the DMC database and offers certain services to its clients. A DMC ensures that providers meet their responsibilities and is always there to assist if things do not go as planned.
What do DMCs do? The scope of services
Assistance with arrival and departure
This is the most basic transfer service, which includes meet-and-greets. Locals greet tourists with a welcome sign at the meeting site, assist with baggage, bring them to their accommodations, and return them to the airport in the planned car on the day of departure. Some operators improve their service by including an excursion or a narrative to enjoy during the trip. In addition to the transfer, SunTours Caribbean appoints specialised tour agents. They visit in-resort guests to show them about the region they're staying in and can make more regular trips if necessary. Mautourco is notable for providing newcomers with cold towels, flower garlands, and business gifts.
Tours and excursions
Safaris, cruises, cultural tours, sightseeing excursions, and many more exotic experiences that travel firms cannot give on their own are the DMC's stock in trade. Orient Tours, an Oman and UAE DMC, provides a variety of Arabian Desert packages such as seeing the dawn behind the sand dunes, a desert trip on a quad bike, and an overnight dune drive with camel riding, sandboarding, and other Arabic entertainments.
Event or activity planning
DMCs have a significant edge over other travel companies in terms of creating tailor-made activities for groups, themed events, and programmes since they maintain relationships with local suppliers, hotels, and venues. Many DMCs organise weddings, educational programmes, concerts, sporting events, and roadshows, among other things. SNTTA Emir Tours plans golf trips down to the last detail, from hotels and tee times to transportation and excursions.
DMCs that operate in distant areas can also provide housing services. Consider the Turks and Caicos Islands, which are located in the centre of the Atlantic Ocean. Olympia Destination Management offers a VIP lounge at the local airport as well as luxury hotels and villas for memorable vacations.
Meeting, Incentive, Conference, Event (MICE) tourism
DMCs design team-building trips and create in-resort meeting activities. DMCs are a lifeline for corporate travel planners.
Corporate social responsibility programs (CSR)
DMCs are receiving an increasing amount of demand for CSR as socially and ecologically responsible tourism becomes more popular, as they are a significant supplier of such experiences. Beyond Experiences, an Australian DMC, incorporates CSR into the destination boardroom and corporate group programmes so that visitors may aid koalas that escaped the bushfires.
DMCs receive attractive prices and may send cars for rent to the airport or to their lodging by working with local car rental fleets. SunTours, for example, collaborates with Drive-a-Matic, ACE Rent a Car, and National, whilst Mautourco partners with Hertz. Car rental widgets are added to the websites of several DMCs.
Some DMCs are one-stop shops that handle the whole travel procedure, including visas, insurance, and other paperwork.
How travel agencies can work with DMCs
DMCs offer services directly to clients, but the majority also sell their products through travel agencies and tour operators. So, how do these business-to-business ties work? To begin, keep in mind that certain DMCs form groups in order to improve efficiency and dependability while dealing with them. Independent DMCs form alliances depending on the destination, the market in which they operate, and the services they offer. They have similar corporate ideals and philosophies. PLUS DMC is a consortium of nine European DMCs focused on the Nordic region. They adapt services based on their grasp of the customer's mindset.
Calls and emails: personal communication between small DMCs and agencies
Small DMCs still employ the old-fashioned method of phone calls and emails. Some consider it inconvenient, while others, such as Ian Ropke, creator of Your Japan Private Tours, perceive it as a more intimate encounter. Another tiny DMC based in South America, Adios Adventure Travel, communicates by phone and email. They may tailor itineraries and material to the demands of agencies and even combine them into documents with the agency's identity.
Online reservation system: accessing and booking DMC’s portfolio
A travel agency extranet is the most commonly utilised mode of engagement. Agents enter their information in the registration form, and an Account Manager contacts them to negotiate terms and conditions. When their account is activated, they will receive login information to use the travel system. There are several types of online reservation systems (ORS). Zeus Travel, a Greek DMC, has an e-tourism platform. SETT, a German DMC, offers agencies a B2B Online Booking portal where they can enter destinations and dates, check availability, and make and manage bookings. DONG DMC, which operates in Southeast Asia, provides several B2B booking engines according to the location of the agency. The Jumbo Tours Group is one of Europe's largest and most technologically advanced DMCs. The Jumbobeds ORS may be used by their agency clients. It includes tourist services such as hotels, transportation, and group trip management, all of which boost agent productivity. The system modifies prices and availability in response to market conditions and spotlights unique deals depending on current demand.
API connectivity: integrating DMC inventory into an agency’s system
The bulk of DMCs are technologically challenged. Furthermore, few destination firms provide XML connections to combine their solutions. However, some do. W2M, a Spanish DMC, provides an online booking platform for hotels, transportation, and attraction tickets. This inventory may be distributed by API or web interface to hotels, tour operators, OTAs, and travel wholesalers. Red Apple Travel, a big DMC based mostly in Asia, also offers API connectivity for its solo and package goods, as well as their real-time price and availability. The hotel distribution platform of Jumbo Tours can also be integrated. Their API enables agencies to connect to Channel Managers and vendors directly. Snami Travel, a Cretan DMC specialising in luxury travel services, offers online booking engines that partners may integrate by utilising DMC's XML web services. Snami Travel also features B2C product widgets that partners may embed on their websites.
Online marketplaces: one interface for multiple DMCs
Some bookings are routed through markets rather than directly to DMCs. They collect DMC inventory and link it with travel agencies. Once signed in, agents may book DMC services directly from the platform.
MultiZebra is a marketplace in India where DMCs may publish their packages and component costs. On the other hand, agencies log into the site and generate a quote for a certain location. Adalte B2B Travel Hub consolidates DMCs into its Travel Platform, which agencies may use. Alternatively, they may use Adalte's Tours API to integrate it into their system. By logging into the system, agents may view the whole trip portfolio. They may also use XML and API connect to incorporate the database into their platform. "We are presently working on it."
How to select a DMC partner
The DMC should be aware of the client base's needs. This is how you can determine whether their trip plans will work for your clients.
To ensure that a DMC can meet your tourist objectives, verify the quantity and types of local service providers they are connected to, as well as what property owners, ground transportation firms, activity providers, and in some cases even government agencies they have under their belt.
Unfortunately, many DMCs, particularly smaller ones, are trailing behind in digital development. If emails and phone conversations aren't your preferred modes of contact, you may have to keep seeking a better alternative.
Quotes and commissions
When you've narrowed your options down to a few possible DMCs, compare the quotations for any similar service. Perhaps you opt to use one DMC's transfer services while purchasing trips from another. In addition, request a complete commission breakdown, as there may be any hidden costs. Some DMCs, for example, impose an event management fee that varies depending on the bespoke charges.
Caution and care should never be overlooked. So, before you leap to judgements, look into their history of dealing with comparable organisations and their business licence. Also, any references or participation in reputable tourist organisations would be beneficial.
If you're arranging a meeting, product presentation, conference, incentive trip, or any other form of business event, hiring a destination management firm is the best way to ensure its success. DMCs are professional service firms that specialise in organising and managing events, experiences, and vacations for groups of travellers in a specific destination. The Costa del Sol has a large number of DMCs because it is a popular MICE destination.