What would be your answer if someone offered to save you time and money in the planning of your conference/event?
Destination Marketing Organizations (DMO’s) can do just that.
What is a DMO? The Destination Marketing Association International defines it as: Organizations charged with representing a specific destination and helping the long-term development of communities through a travel and tourism strategy. They can serve as a broker or an official point of contact for convention, business and leisure travelers. They assist planners with meeting preparation and encourage business travelers and visitors alike to visit local historic, cultural and recreational sites.
Our office is based in Winnipeg, but we plan events in major cities throughout Canada. Most associations can’t afford to send the meeting planner to do site visits or meet with suppliers more than once in a year, which is why we work with DMOs. And we work with DMOs beginning with the Request for Proposal (RFP) to find a host venue for our conference.
Here is how a DMO can you help throughout the conference planning process:
Instead of doing research on hotels in an unfamiliar city, send your RFP to the DMO and ask them to distribute the RFP to all hotels who could host your event, based on your meeting space requirements, location, guest rooms rates, etc. Some DMOs may also collect all the proposals in their city and present a complete package for your review instead of having to review multiple individual proposals. The sales professional understands the value of your meeting and serves as your advocate to the hotel community. Communicating with a DMO allows you to make a destination decision without pressure from properties. A DMO sells their city and it doesn’t matter to them at which specific hotel property you book your meeting.
When it is time to visit the hotels (or the chosen hotel), your DMO can help you coordinate an itinerary, arrange for transportation to and from the hotel and suggest off-site venues that you can visit during your stay. In most cases, a DMO sales professional would be available to accompany you on site visits if this is of value.
Planning Your Event
To plan a conference, you need to work with various suppliers such as printers, show services providers, transportation companies, tour companies, florists, etc. Your DMO can provide you with a list of recommended suppliers. I always feel secure with the vendors that I select because the referral has come through the DMO. DMOs will also serve as your best bet for suggested off-site activities and venues.
Marketing Your Conference
For most conferences, a large part of the marketing efforts revolve around the host city. You may use photos of the host city on your program, on your website and in your promotional materials. Links to the tourism website and promotional videos are also useful. DMOs can provide you with access to a gallery of high quality images. They may also have e-blast templates, or email banners that you can use in your message to potential delegates.
DMOs can also provide visitor guides, complimentary maps and other materials that can be distributed to your delegates on-site.
If you are unsure whether a DMO can help you with something specific – ask them! I have never worked with a DMO that was subpar.
And the best part is that they do all this for FREE.
DMOs want your event to be a success as much as you do. Not only does it reflect well on their city, but it may also encourage delegates to extend their stay or return for a visit with their family. Travel and tourism is one of the largest and fastest-growing economic sectors in the world.
Take advantage of the free assistance available from Destination Marketing Organizations. They should be your first call in any destination.
To find out more about what DMOs can offer visit: www.destinationmarketing.org