‘A damaging lack of trust’: Can agencies and DMCs improve their relationship?

Incentive planners and DMCs discuss the need for more transparency in their working relationship.

At C&IT’s Incentives Retreat, a panel of event planners and DMCs shed light on a problem of trust between them.

On the agency side were Odette Peel, senior incentives manager, Quintessentially Travel and Charlie Hepburn, MD and founder at BE Vivid, while DMCs included Olga Navarro, managing partner, ITB Events and Christian Hobbs, global sales & marketing director, Uniqueworld.

The panel discussed the role of a DMC and how relationships between DMCs and event agencies can be improved.

The DMCs on the panel said that they are there to “give more meaning” to the early stages of planning a trip. The add-on value they give is providing on-the-ground support during a crisis, and negotiating directly with suppliers.

Hepburn said: “DMC’s are incredibly important but they have got to be an extension of your business. You don’t want to work with somebody who doesn’t get you and more importantly get your client.”

“There is a disconnection between what we can do and what [agencies] request from us most of the time,” Navarro said.

Navarro believes there is a “damaging” lack of trust between agents and DMCs.

“You can see that from the request for proposals (RFPs),” she said. “We think that 80-90% of RFPs that come from UK-based agencies are looking for our free information and advice to then go direct rather than a proper partnership. That’s the elephant in the room.”

Navarro said she’d rather have a candid conversation upfront.

“I think that’s rubbish,” said Hepburn. “We don’t want to pitch for the business, we want to work with partners. So this question of trust shouldn’t come into it.”

Hobbs said that trust can only be built after the first event has been a success, and over time.

Peel said that shorter turnaround times means that they need quick access to information for a client, which DMCs can’t always provide. She would rather they were more upfront about this and followed up an RFP with a phone call.

“It’s about having open conversations and holding your hand up to say I can’t help you this time,” said Peel. “Don’t delay. Be open with what you can provide.”

Watch the full panel debate in the video above.

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