A good sustainable DMC is essential if you’re a travel agent selling Asia experiences
Holidays Are Important. Use a DMC
If you’re a travel agent or tour operator selling Asia travel experiences, why use a destination management company (DMC)?
It depends on your comfort with exposure to risk, unforeseen costs, disappointment and uncertainty. Backpackers are mostly comfortable with those – well maybe not unforeseen costs – but families and groups with limited holiday time each year need the trip to not just go well, but perfectly, or as close to it as possible.
Speaking with almost 30 years of experience as a sustainable DMC in Asia, Khiri Travel says there are nine compelling reasons to use a DMC when sending clients to Asia.
The Alternative is Flawed
As a tour operator are you going to put together your own networks of itinerary researchers, guides, hosts, drivers and destination experts. Then find them a place to work and prepare for your incoming clients? And then duplicate that set up in multiple countries – Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, and so on?
You want an experienced company on the ground with its own set-up and extensive knowledge, that is ready to roll.
A DMC’s Local Knowledge is King
DMC staff and management live in the destination 24/7. They know its strengths, weaknesses, weather patterns, public holidays, cultural nuances and politics. They know when, how, why and where to offer a destination experience to foreign travellers. A good DMC also gauges how the experience would be received by the host culture, not just foreign visitors. A DMC sees when a place is suffering overtourism. They see where the crowds go. They know when to down sell or withdraw a product.
On the flip side, DMC staff love to be out and about discovering local markets, hotels, and museums that would appeal to tourists. DMCs hear rumours of an upcountry waterfall near temple ruins. They talk to locals and expats. In short, a good DMC is a localised travel intelligence gathering machine. It is constantly alert and adjusting its knowledge of a destination – and redefining the opportunities that it offers. Places that were popular in the 1990s may now be worn out or incapable of adapting to modern traveller needs. Think of the modern desire for sustainable, responsible, inclusive tourism that respects local culture. A DMC knows how to deliver on those needs by using its local knowledge.
A DMC Has Skin in the Game
A DMC wants repeat business. A good DMC cares. A good DMC is proud of the local culture, respects it and wants to share it with guests. A DMC’s relationship with a tour operator or travel agent in source markets such as the USA, Europe or Australia should be mutually beneficial and long term. A DMC – if it is going to succeed financially – needs a symbiotic, understanding and mutually respectful relationship with its clients in source markets. There is no scope for short-termism. Both the demand-side operator and the supply-side DMC want the familiarity of repeat business.
Tourism may appear to be about sightseeing, food, shopping and hitting the beach. But ultimately tourism is not B2B, but P2P – people to people. It’s about a smile as much as a dollar payment. A good DMC wants the destination experience to get under the visitor’s skin and into their heart. A good DMC has skin in the game.
A DMC Will Help You with Marketing
Once the temple visit, cooking class or Chinatown food discovery experience is decided upon, a good DMC will create marketing collateral – print, digital or multimedia – that will help the tour operator sell it. The in-market tour operator sales professional can rest assured the collateral is representative and not misleading – because, as we said above, the DMC has skin in the game. It wants a long term relationship with the supplier.
A Good DMC is Creative
A successful DMC knows how to link source market expectations with people, places and activities in-destination. More vegan cooking classes? Sure, shall we do them in the resort’s garden? After the riverside bicycle ride, why not try the local herbal sauna? A smart DMC uses its local knowledge to offer unique combinations of experiences that have the potential to deliver a great ‘wow’ factor. Like a top chef, a creative DMC knows how to use a destination’s ingredients to surprise and delight. A creative DMC is constantly making a destination mosaic, a series of experiences seamlessly stitched together. Those diverse threads are woven together, and occasionally unpicked, to meet and exceed the client’s expectations.
A Good DMC Provides Consistency
There’s a problem if the cooking class in city ‘x’ is rated first class by guests. But in city ‘y’ it is rated poorly due to inferior language skills, ingredients, setting or attitude. A good DMC will see potential deficiencies in a destination experience. It will then remedy them through orientation, training and practice before allowing the culinary experience on its roster of tourism activities. A good DMC instills a culture of quality control and consistency. These standards are constantly reviewed at cross-national meetings of the DMC’s management team.
A DMC Is There in a Crisis or Emergency
If a guest falls ill on a trip, or there’s a sudden strike by airline staff, or a hotel that is part of an itinerary is suddenly not available, a good DMC is ‘on it’. It will immediately work to fix the problem. It will put the traveller’s well being first. The crisis response will involve constant communication updates to the tour operator in the source market, the traveller, and/or their family back home. If it’s just a full hotel or a cancelled flight, the DMC will quickly work to put a replacement solution in place.
Furthermore, in a long-running crisis, such as Covid-19, a good DMC will supply regular or on-demand situation updates for travel industry stakeholders in source markets.
A Good DMC Will Save You Time
It’s true that with the internet, we can all carry out research and make bookings to create a travel itinerary. Chances are that research will be inferior to the intimate in-destination first-hand knowledge the DMC has. Apart from being fraught with risks, it’s going to take a lot of time to research and book a whole 14-day itinerary. But then suppose, after booking, you want to move the whole trip start date back or forward 24 hours, or change a hotel booking, or choose an international train ride instead of a flight. Apart from the time it would take, the likelihood is that bookings are not changeable if you’ve made them via the internet. Or if changeable, it’s only possible with a painful penalty fee.
A good DMC, for the most part, absorbs or avoids those costs and will use its local relationships with hotels and suppliers to rearrange the itinerary for the client’s benefit. A good DMC will save you time – and hassle.
A Good DMC Gives You Peace of Mind
For all the above reasons, a good DMC gives you peace of mind. Once a tour operator booking is made for a client’s trip to Asia, the tour operator can relax and let the DMC take the strain. The DMC will take the lead role in fixing any problems that pop up. Because the DMC has skin in the game and wants repeat business, it will go the extra mile. If the DMC has been in business for many years and has earned its position, even better. The tour operator can enjoy peace of mind.
If the above makes sense to you, or if you have questions, and want to find out more about high quality DMC services in Southeast Asia, contact Khiri Travel today!