Meeting planning can be stressful and time-consuming to say the least. With all the headaches that meeting planners face throughout the course of their journey, the free resources that Destination Management Organizations (DMOs) like Visit Spokane offer have never been more important. Working with a DMO could be exactly what your next meeting needs so it goes off without a glitch. Here are nine reasons why meeting planners should work with a DMO to plan their next meeting.
I hate to admit it, but I do like a Hallmark movie now and then. As the VP of Sales at Visit Spokane, Spokane’s local Destination Management Organization (DMO), there are just some days when I need a fairytale ending! And besides, it's a little relatable when the female lead in the film often is an Event Planner (although I wish she would insist on being titled a Meeting Professional…). You know how it goes; she is busy getting ready for the winter town carnival, and despite the small obstacles she encounters, it goes off without a glitch.
This, we know, is fictional. In this post-COVID environment, meeting planners are navigating the challenges of producing a well-attended, profitable, educational, and memorable meeting and it feels more like a psychological thriller than a Hallmark movie.
Having been on the hotel and DMO side of the meeting planning business for over 30 years, it's interesting that planners are not utilizing the free resources DMOs offer as often as they did pre-COVID. It could be because several meeting planners and DMOs were forced to make significant layoffs, and they just don't know who to call. Or planners may feel the complexity of the event doesn't warrant the involvement of a DMO. Either way, it seems there is a lack of knowledge on the resources a DMO provides meeting planners for free. While I’m biased, working with a DMO could be exactly what your next meeting needs so it goes off without a glitch. Before I get too ahead of myself, here are nine reasons why meeting planners should work with a DMO to plan their next meeting.
#1 Size doesn't matter
No meeting is too small to warrant the aid of DMO assistance. Whatever the size of your event, the DMO sales and services team is here to assist.
#2 It's free
Maybe I should say this again, it’s FREE. DMOs are generally funded by lodging tax and private membership dollars, so our services to planners are completely free.
#3 We are the local experts
We know everything there is to know about the communities we stand for; what's new and what's on the horizon, who to call, where to go, and why you should go there. We are experts on local culture, which is potentially challenging to dial in to as a meeting planner, especially if you have never been to the destination before or are outside the region.
#4 Venue Support
DMO’s hand-select partners in their region that fit your event criteria, often saving hours of research time through local expertise that streamlines the process. The DMO is your one-stop shop that can bring together bids from the area's best providers. Customized options are at your fingertips all thanks to venue support provided by the DMO.
#5 Site Inspections
A site visit allows you to experience the destination before making any decisions. DMO’s offer customized itineraries with guided tours of hotels, event venues, convention centers, etc. Depending on the size of your event, DMOs can provide financial assistance for flights and accommodations too.
Beyond these basic reasons, DMOs have evolved to meet the new demands of meeting professionals:
#6 Hybrid meetings
A DMO is equipped to provide technology solutions to produce blended virtual/live events. In our post-COVID world, this is a new industry standard that DMOs have navigated with excellence for all sizes of meetings.
#7 Authentic Experiences
As "bleisure travel" rises, prospective attendees want to attend meetings and take in the area like a local during downtime. A DMOs connection to the community and its residents is your gateway to creating a meeting experience beyond the general session and into local culture and experiences. The intersection of your event with the local community is where your meeting can truly become memorable.
#8 Sharing of best practices
Destinations have changed; some have elevated while others have not. It can be uncomfortable booking an unfamiliar destination. A DMO can connect you with other planners who have met in the destination recently that can provide valuable and up-to-date, first-hand accounts to ease your mind.
#9 Elevated convention services support
The support of a DMO doesn't end once the destination is selected. At Visit Spokane, groups are assigned a Convention Services Manager who works with meeting planners providing an extensive range of free services including but not limited to:
- Attendance promotion campaigns
- Access to Meeting Planner Tool Kits filled with destination images and videos, marketing templates, destination descriptions, blogs, testimonials, and speaker resources
- Brochures, visitors guide, and maps
- Connection to local dignitaries
- Leads and referrals to local transportation companies, off-site venues, DMC, and exhibitor resources
- Post-event reporting, including food and beverage spend, pick-up reports, and economic impact data
Suppose you've contacted a DMO to help you with a meeting in the past or are considering available resources to bring your upcoming meeting to life. In that case, I'd like to invite you to allow the DMO to be your partner in the planning and execution of your next convention or meeting. DMOs are forward facing to support meeting planners, but also bring economic impact to the destinations they serve. Conferences and events matter to the communities DMOs serve as much as they matter to you. DMOs are here to introduce you to the region and the endless possibilities of making your meeting successful.
If you’re planning a meeting without the aid of a DMO, what are you waiting for? Get in contact with a local DMO today.