Diversification and Specialization of Travel Agencies
Is Travel Agency = PCO, DMC, EMC?
Generally, travel agencies sell service packages to a whole range of very different clients – from holiday makers to business people. Most meeting industry experts point out that meetings, incentives, events and exhibitions are not tourism business at all, but only use tourism infrastructure. The situation is perfectly clear from the below chart done by Gary Grimmer of GiningEdge:
Meeting Industry* is Different from Tourism
Purpose of Visit
Buyer Service Needs
Securing the Business
Size of Groups
Main Economic Impact
Fun / Pleasure / Relaxation
Tour Operators / Travel Agents
Fees & Commissions
Reservations / Itineraries
Tour Operators / Travel Agents / GDS
Advertising / Marketing / Packaging
Strategic / Marketing Oriented
Individuals or Small Groups
Professionals / Business People
Business / Networking / Learning
High Level of Product and Service
Meeting Planners / PCOs / AMCs
Successful & Profitable Meetings
Facilities / Access / Market Issues
Housing / Registration / Events
Corp and Association HQs / AMCs / PCOs
PCOs / DMCs / Venues / Event Suppliers
Tactical / Sales Oriented
100 – 10.000 delegates
Trade and Investment
*Term Meeting Industry here includes all kinds of meetings, incentives, events, exhibitions, corporate events
Author: Gary Grimmer of GainingEdge, EdgyThinking
Therefore, the approach to meeting industry has to be completely different from that one towards tourism. Companies dealing with meeting industry organization can be roughly placed into the following categories:
PCO – Professional Congress Organizer
Provides full service to meeting planners. Sometimes a PCO may engage a DMC for services in a destination like excursions, dinners etc. or an EMC for themed events. Very often, a PCO organizes all those happenings itself providing it has got the in-depth knowledge of the destination.
AMC – Association Management Company
Provides management and specialized administrative services to trade associations and professional societies running them like businesses. If it has the knowledge and resources, AMC may also act a PCO or may engage a PCO to organize a meeting.
DMC – Destination Management Company
Provides ground services based on understanding and familiarity of the destination possessing extensive local knowledge, expertise and resources, specializing in the design and implementation of events, activities, tours, transportation and program logistics.
EMC – Event Management Company
Provides services in a variety of areas including corporate events, marketing programs and special hospitality events like concerts, award ceremonies, film premieres, launch/release parties, fashion shows, commercial events, private (personal) events such as weddings etc.
Now, which three factors make difference between one of these above and a general travel agency or tour operator? Number one – experience. Number two – experience. Number three – experience. Of course, basic knowledge is a must but experience in meeting industry is the key factor that differentiates, say a PCO, from a classical travel agency. Meeting, incentive and corporate planners are too well aware of that fact and will look for such partners when planning their events. Therefore, to meet their expectations, general travel agencies wishing to serve this market niche will surely have to specialize in order to gain serious business.
To qualify as a Professional Congress Organizer, a company has to be able to provide – among other things – the following specific services*:
* List of standard PCO services adopted by IAPCO (International Association of Professional Congress Organizers)
Ranko Filipović has been a meeting industry expert in Croatia for over 20 years. His current engagement includes his brands PerfectMeetings.hr and Meeting Industry Consultants. He is also a co-founder and Vice-president of Croatian Meeting Professionals Association serving it on pro-bono basis.