Having made a successful sale there comes the moment the Destination Management Company has to orchestrate all the elements and get ready for delivery. This can be a short period of few weeks or several months or years.
An incentive or meeting programme has to be pre-planned from A to Z and nothing can be left for the last minute. In case the IH planner is not very experienced and is not on time with the required information necessary for planning, the DMC consultant responsible for the programme, firmly but politely has to get the information at the right time.
The DMC consultant should ask to see both the final programme proposal before submitted to the Corporate and the final programme. This way he can make sure that every one is on the same “wave length” and “over promised” situations are not included due to poetic licence.
At this stage there should exist a contract between the Incentive House and the DM Company. In practice this is rarely done as most of the DMC’s relay on the Purchases Order drawn by the Incentive House. It is recommended that a contract is used for every incentive as this will protect both the client and the supplier. In Conferences and meetings it is usual that a contract is established engaging both parties.
Clicking here at the link 1 you can find and download an example of such a contract used by a DMC for a conference. The Incentive contract could be similar to this but including the incentive specifications and conditions.
Based on the agreed upon finalised programme the DMC consultant must start weaving his planning canvas. While the requirements for each programme are different, many basic elements are the same and should be put in place as soon as the programme is sold.
Do not wait until the last moment for final numbers as this might cause problems with unavailability of qualified guides, motorcoaches, artists etc. Some elements can be released at a given time without penalties. Therefore, provided the deadlines are kept, there is no harm in reserving some extra equipment or outside staff. On the basis of the programme, a planning should be prepared for “what and when” has to be reserved in option and when it has to be confirmed or finalised.
What services must be reserved as soon as the sale is closed?
- Hotel accommodation (if handled by the DMC)
- Banqueting and meeting space
- Motorcoaches for assuring all the same quality
- Guides for assuring same expertise and language knowledge
- and generally anything for which might be unavailable later.
What can be finalised or elaborated closer to the operation ?
- Final numbers of:
- Restaurant seats
- Private cars
- Easily available equipment such as back projectors, Audio visual etc.
Perfect planning and timing is essential and critical both for the Destination Management Company and the programme. There is no room for taking any risks or experimenting. Everything has to be thought out, anticipated, planned, delegated, timed, and checked again and again. The experienced DMC consultant always anticipates what can go wrong during the operation and has alternative solutions up his sleeve as back up.
Some useful tips (not necessarily in order of importance):
- Always make sure there are a number of empty seats in each motorcoach. If 50-seat coaches are available allow about 44 persons per coach.
- For large movements always book an extra coach and guide to stand by. Unexpected problems can always happen.(This cost can be passed on to the client if agreed beforehand).
- Never book in restaurants and venues the exact number of seats. Always have more seats or tables available. Guests always like to sit with friends and this might create a space problem. Book for example 100 menus but 115 seats.
- Always try the seating space yourself. Make sure there is enough space to move around between tables and buffets.
- For big banqueting recommend a seating plan. If accepted have bulletin boards outside the entrance, with the numbers and location of the tables.
- Make sure there are always some vegetarian meals available even if you are advised that there are not any vegetarians. You will be surprised to find out how many vegetarians there are when none have been booked..
- Get familiar with ethnic eating habits. This can save you from serving pigeons to Americans or rare cooked meat to Greeks, and make sure you have always plenty of salad for Americans and pasta for Italians.
- When printing menus, it is recommended that the dishes are mentioned in the local language and the language of the participants. Translate menus with the exact words of species avoiding the unimaginative “fish” or “meat.”
- Provide clients with menu selections and establish final menus making sure that repetition of same dishes two days in a row is avoided.
- Drivers and guides must be ordered to be present at departure point 30 minutes before departure.
- All entertainers must be ready 45-30 minutes before any show.
- Tryouts of any new programmes must be done by your staff well before the operation and details fine-tuned.
- Contingency plans must be made for outdoor activities in destinations with unstable weather.
- Always supply the drivers with the access plan to the venues, even if they know the way.
- First aid kits should be available for any sporting activities, and DMC operating staff trained to apply first aid.
- Always check that suppliers have all necessary insurances valid for the time of the operation
- For departure transfers, tag luggage of different flights with a special coloured sticker.
- When the possibility exists make sure all booked hotel rooms are of the same standards and size.
- Brief all suppliers about the importance of the programme and why the corporate client expects his invited guests to be treated better than any regular traveller.
This is only a very small number from a long list of items which have to be planned and organised depending on the importance of the incentive or meeting. DMC’s should have a written confirmation from each supplier specifically mentioning what, when, and how it will be provided.
Many DMC’s are no longer content by a simple confirmation letter. Instead they draw their own contracts, for important suppliers (hotels, transportation, entertainers etc), including all the details of the services to be provided and the indemnification due, in case of failure. Today nobody can afford a simple “sorry we forgot it” and suppliers as much as organisers have to take their responsibility.
Clicking here at the link 2 you can find and download an example of an hotel contract which was used by a DMC for a conference. Most of these clauses can also be used for an incentive programme.
At the next issue: The delivery of the Event
© Tasso Pappas CITE
Tasso Pappas was President of the SITE Greek Chapter 2006-2010 and served as President of SITE Intl. in 2000. This article is an extract from his book “To be or not to be a DMC” which he wrote in 1996 as his thesis for the certification as CITE (Certified Incentive Travel Executive). More information about Tasso Pappas you can find at http://sites.google.com/site/tassopappasconsultancy/
Contact: [email protected]