What's keeping DMC bosses up at night?

High prices, staffing and venue availability are challenging destination management companies globally.

A major issue shared universally by DMCs right now is inflation and cost.
A major issue shared universally by DMCs right now is inflation and cost. Photo Credit: GettyImages/metamorworks

Who would want to be a DMC right now? On one hand you’ve never been busier and on the other you are being challenged at every turn.

Four of the world’s top DMCs came to together this week to give their take on the incentive landscape post-Covid in a SITE Australia and New Zealand InSITE Webinar on Thursday (September 15).

The panel — which was facilitated by SITE ANZ’s Sonja Söderbom, director of destination management at Ovation Australia — included managing director of Realm Vietnam, Tram Pham; CEO of Insider Experience in the US, Karine Bulger; group sales manager of Dragonfly Africa, Mushfiqah Daniels; and CEO of TerraEvents in Europe, Heather Williams.

While each may work in different parts of the world it was clear during the discussion that many of their challenges are universally shared.

One of the big ones right now is inflation and cost. TerraEvents' Williams said she could not believe an airline ticket she was presently looking to purchase to Australia from Europe had risen by nearly 300% compared to the time directly prior to pre-Covid.

That kind of price rise for clients means shedding costs in other areas which could, for example, result in downgrading accommodation from five star to less.

Four DMCs from different corners of the world sharing their thoughts at a recent SITE ANZ webinar.
Four DMCs from different corners of the world sharing their thoughts at a recent SITE ANZ webinar.

But it’s not only inflation that is fuelling higher prices, said Insider Experience's Bulger. Hotel prices in Hawaii, for example, are raised to never-seen-before levels.

“Leisure travel is extremely high [in Hawaii]. A lot of Americans are really not comfortable travelling overseas yet and they are pushing prices up [in the US].”

And it’s not only Hawaii where cost and venue availability is challenging.

SITE ANZ's Söderbom said venue availability in Australia was extremely hard with clients having to now look well into 2023 to secure space at some key properties.

Bulger said Las Vegas, where she is based, is now fully open and all resorts are in extremely high demand.

“I have a meeting with Resorts World tomorrow and they don’t have a single room they can show me. They have four-and-a-half thousand rooms and they’re fully booked,” she said.

Staffing at venues remains a challenge everywhere except, it seems, in South Africa where Dragonfly Africa’s Daniels says staff numbers quickly returned to those they had pre-Covid.

However, there remains some issue with inventory but there was an expectation of further improvements in 2023, she added.

The global lesson agreed by all DMCs was for corporates to really plan ahead to ensure they could secure the venues they wanted.

And to make it easier in the long run, corporates should talk to DMCs. TerraEvents' Williams said utilising the services of a DMC who was in regular touch with venue operators was really valuable, particularly at this time, and can help save time and money. She cited as one example her knowledge that venue availability in the entire Amalfi Coast in Europe between May and October 2022 was now exhausted.

Someone who was searching for a venue in that region during that time period on their own would be spending a lot of time doing so and having no result at the end of the search.

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