by Alex Palmer | February 11, 2020
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DMC client panel (from left): moderator, Access New York Metro's Jaclyn Bernstein,; Mary Kay LATAM's Becky Cornejo ; National Association of Home Builders' Monica Sober DeNio; and Cardinal Health's Conni Catlett. Credit: Alex Palmer

PUERTO RICO - Creative problem-solving and exceeding client needs were among the themes emphasised at the annual conference for the Association of Destination Management Executives International (ADMEI) earlier this month.

DMCs gathering at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel and Casino in San Juan  engaged in networking, education and activities focused on helping them better deliver for their clients.

One of the most enthusiastically received events came as the DMCs heard directly from clients during a panel in which three planners representing a cross-section of the industry described what they look for in a DMC partner - starting with a proposal that hits the mark.

"I need it to be unique - something that I couldn't book myself," said National Association of Home Builders assistant vice president of meetings and events, Ms Monica Sober DeNio, who oversees several conferences and leadership meetings annually as well as the 65,000-attendee NAHB International Builders' Show. "I want to see that you heard what I was asking for and put that in there. You want to feel that it was made for you."

Ms Conni Catlett, director, RBC and marketing services, Cardinal Health, stressed the importance of timeliness in working with a DMC. She acknowledged that while it did not seem fair that the planner could take as much time as he/she liked to respond to a DMC, "but when I ask you for something, it's because I want to do something with that information that day. Even if you just reply with 'message received, will get back to you ASAP,' that's OK, but not if I ask for something and it's two days of radio silence," she said.

The third panellist, Ms Becky Cornejo, Mary Kay LATAM's incentive trips manager who organises luxury trips for up to 500 sales representatives stressed that she expected DMCs to constantly evolve and be a step ahead in creative ideas. "It's important to have the most up-to-date information, to continue learning - if your staff knows one language, learn two. Don't stop - that's very important," she said.

The panellists debated about how they prefer to have pricing broken down. Ms DeNio expressed a preference for a "cost-plus" approach in which the DMC provides a dollar amount for each line item. She described a recent situation in which she realised that the price tag for one service included a delivery fee for AV equipment, which she was able to pay for with money from a different budget.

Speaking from the corporate side, Ms Catlett said she preferred to know what the final price was, along with possible extras that could be added on if budget allowed but she did not want to see the specifics broken down in too much detail as this could lead the company's procurement department to second-guess particular event details and begin to interfere with logistics. "If you are ever working with a corporate procurement department, don't ever mention (cost-plus pricing)," Ms Catlett said.

This is an abridged version of an article that first appeared in Northstar Meetings Group.