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Agencies Specialization

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




Participant Motivations

Purpose of Visit

Customer Needs


Buyer Motivations

Decision Criteria

Buyer Service Needs

Distribution Channels

Supply Chain

Market Approach

Securing the Business

Size of Groups

Main Economic Impact



Fun / Pleasure / Relaxation



Tour Operators / Travel Agents

Fees & Commissions

Destination Appeal

Reservations / Itineraries

Tour Operators / Travel Agents / GDS

Hospitality Industry

Advertising / Marketing / Packaging

Strategic / Marketing Oriented

Individuals or Small Groups

Direct Spending


Professionals / Business People

Business / Networking / Learning

Work Related

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

Direct Sales

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 and Meeting Industry Consultants. He is also a co-founder and Vice-president of Croatian Meeting Professionals Association serving it on pro-bono basis.

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