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by Padraic Gilligan, Vice President, Ovation Global DMC

Origins of the Species

I’ve always regarded passion as an integral part of being professional. Words with Friends enthusiasts (Hi Jurriaen, Sean, Alison, Andrea, Rhonda, Joan!) will immediately spot that all the letters of the word “passion” are contained in the word “professional”. You cannot be a true professional without being big hearted, emotionally involved, deeply engaged, passionate.

Christophe Verstraete is a true professional who is passionate about the DMC sector. As Executive Director of Euromic, the longest established marketing consortium of DMCs on the planet, he is also anxious to establish accuracy and precision around the origins of the term DMC. He approached me in June at the Site EMEA Forum in Berlin questioning my account in a previous blog post of the origins of the term. I promised him at the time that I’d return to this topic and highlight material evidence from the archives of Euromic from 1982 attributing the creation of the term to Tom Risbecker.

“At Euromic we have always supported the fact that the term Destination Management Company (DMC)was coined by our Swedish Member, Tom Risbecker. Our Association promoted DMC first in the media as early as 1982. If we are correct, during the early incentive days, there were really no American DMCs, the Europeans were way ahead. During all the years since we officially took on the term DMC, we have never heard anybody claim the right to the DMC name, so it seems a bit odd [for Chris Lee] to make such a claim this many years afterwards. Due to this confusion, we would like to determine whether Euromic or Access can officially claim to be the originator of our current designation DMC by providing supporting evidence of their creation of the term “Destination Management Company.”

It could be, as indicated in the introduction to last week’s post, that we’re dealing with a true case of “multiple independent discovery” but, in fairness to Christophe and to Euromic, let’s try to provide supporting evidence of the use of the term “DMC” in the US in 1972. Over to you Chris!

Changing Channels

Last week’s post garnered some great commentary on the blog site itself as well as on the Linkedin groups where it was posted. A comment from Dallyce Macas of éminence, Toronto deserves further exploration:

One aspect every DMC … needs to embrace is the ability to deal direct with the end client. More often corporations will be insourcing incentives. This will lead to a less seasoned buyer initially, but a chance for longer term partnerships if managed well.”

Dallyce’s pertinent point highlights how radically the distribution channel has changed over the past 10 years and mentions some of the implications for the DMC sector. Previously intermediaries / agencies / third parties were the client as far as the DMC was concerned. In fact part of the value proposition of the agency community was its exclusive connectivity to local destination expertise via its global network of DMCs. Then along came the internet and, over time, google searches and, suddenly, access to local knowledge and expertise wasn’t linked exclusively to strong intra-industry relationships. In the ensuing free-for-all dis-intermediation became the order of the day with agencies going direct in the destination, cutting out the DMC and end-clients going direct to DMCs, eliminating the agency. DMCs, therefore, quickly found themselves in a complex distribution channel and had to learn the different strokes needed to deal with different folks.

Dallyce mentions the “less seasoned buyer” meaning the potentially inexperienced corporate meeting planner whom the DMC now has to deal with directly. Previously DMCs dealt mainly with agencies and so the agency played the role of  filtering and interpreting the requirements of the corporation and developing a clearly articulated event brief for the DMC to deliver. Crucially the agency also dealt with pricing and payment issues allowing the DMC to concentrate on the fun stuff, the creative response and the seamless delivery. Today the DMC often has to interface with corporate planners directly, frequently educating them around the terms and conditions of conducting business in the world of meetings and events. DMCs also have to deal with pricing and payment issues and have had to accept the reality of purchase orders and, often, 120 day credit terms. Thus there’s a lot more to do and the extra bits are tedious and time consuming!

But it’s not all pain. There’s also some significant gain and this stems from the “longer term partnership” that can be fostered as a result of having a direct relationship with the corporate meeting planner where trust and confidence are required. In such scenarios the DMC is identified by the corporate meeting planner as a true industry professional whose role in the delivery channel is crucial and vital. In such cases the DMC then almost assumes an agency role and becomes the outsourced meetings and events partner for the corporate meeting planner at destinations outside of the home location of the DMC. I believe the next 10 years will see a sharp increase in such practices to the point that DMCs will actually become intermediaries and offer services that are not linked exclusively to a specific destination.


Padraic Gilligan is Vice President of Ovation Global DMC. He is former president of Site and currently serves on the Hospitality Partners Advisory Council (HPAC) at FICP.




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