My philosophy is simple. Anyone can choose to conduct themselves and their business in any way they see fit. Of course, they must expect to be judged on their actions - which should foster honesty and integrity, as well as consideration for relationships.
For instance, can any DMC that opens talks with one of our corporate clients seriously expect us to use their services again?
We have all worked with less than scrupulous clients who pick our brains, only to then take our ideas and work directly with suppliers. And I am sure there are some agencies that do the same to DMCs.
It is my experience that a DMC's local knowledge is invaluable - maybe not when everything goes swimmingly, but definitely on those occasions when circumstance prevails to screw up programmes royally.
Clients would do well to think along similar lines - most agencies offer good value when you consider the knowledge and experience they bring.
But they really show their worth when things go wrong on-site and solutions are needed in a tight timeframe. From comforting guests overnight in overseas hospitals to negotiating with foreign police to get participants released from jail, it's dealing with the unexpected that confirms the wisdom of supplier choices.
Maybe what this debate comes down to is respect. Enough of that and any relationship will not only survive but prosper.