The rapid growth of the event industry over the past twenty years has led to specialization and segmentation in the industry on a grand scale. Rarely does a solo planner do it all today. As meetings and events grow in size, complexity, and sophistication planners are specializing in perhaps one or two of the many complex elements that are the building blocks of successful and memorable events. Meeting and event planners are now functioning as executive producers, hiring a veritable army of specialists to pull together complex event productions.
For example, event design has become an entirely separate specialty within event planning, and Event Planners now hire Event Designers to dress venues and develop event themes that establish brands, sell products, motivate and educate employees, and cement relations with important clients.
As communication, presentation, organization, and entertainment technology has evolved to a level of sophistication that challenges even the newly-minted tech specialists, event planners have left the entire technology element to them. The “planner as producer” now simply elucidates communication goals to tech designers, and they source, deliver, set-up and break down their elaborate array of technology that often both surprises and delights both the planner and the audience.
Destination management companies were originally small, local planners who were called upon by national corporations to help their planner manage an event in the local planner’s hometown market. The local planner naturally knew all the ins and outs of local transportation options, off-site activities, reputable caterers, and even how to best deal with primary venues. As these local planners captured more assignments, they began to specialize in sub-contracting local arrangements for “planners as producers” who were serving large corporate clients. They became what is now known as Destination Management Companies (DMCs).
Destination management companies are now merging into large national organizations capable of marketing their services to a national audience while retaining the expertise of planners housed in local markets.
Companies like Helms Briscoe and others have emerged as specialists in bringing national brand and local hotel together in a new symbiotic relationship that enhances the impact of large, complex events.
National destination management companies utilize the local knowledge of merged entities to produce unique off-site activities, engage popular local entertainers, utilize renowned local chefs, and discover historic venues for specialized presentations. The combination of nation-wide marketing power with local execution expertise is a powerful business model.
This market expansion, merger mania, and continued specialization and segmentation in the meeting and event planning industry is good for everyone, and no one need be left behind. We are all the best at something in our local markets and provide a unique service to our clients. Continued market expansion is a sign of health in our industry. We will all benefit.