One of the most usual questions asked in surveys to MICE professionals, is which are the main factors that they consider when choosing a specific destination for their Incentive Trip or Corporate Meeting. One of the most common answers to this question is “security”. Obviously no professional event planner wants to risk the security of participants by choosing an insecure destination or not reliable suppliers.
Along with this answer, other important factors are: good international air connections, good weather, good hotel and meeting facilities, and so on.
Funny as it may seem, it is surprising how easily event planners forget their own requirements when it comes to the actual moment of securing the right local partner to organize ground services in the destination. In the last few years many new stakeholders have broken into the MICE market. Under the name of Event Agencies, Communication Agencies, Venue Finders, Marketing Agencies and the like, these new actors are providing ground handling services without complying with the most basic legal requirements to perform these tasks. Just to mention an example, the case of Spain is quite clarifying. The Spanish law clearly states that the closing of hotel reservations and the booking of any type of transport for tourism purposes are exclusive tasks of Travel Agencies. Therefore, this means that, to legally provide this type of destination services, you have to be registered as an incoming travel agency. But this is not all. In order to provide the necessary peace of mind to clients, the law also states that, in order to become a travel agent, your company must show a very healthy financial structure: corporate equity, bank guarantee and a very high civil liability insurance policy. It is surprising how, under the above mentioned names, many companies provide hotel reservation and transport services failing to comply with the required legal standards. But most surprising even is how many corporate clients do not seem to care much about it and still contract the services of these companies. This is completely at odds with the fact that the very same event planners answer that “security” is one of the main factors to be considered when organizing a corporate event.
How is this possible? How can somebody say that security is paramount and then just contract the services of any Tom, Dick & Harry that crosses their way? On numerous occasions we have tried to find an answer to this questions and have never been able to find it. Perhaps they simply think of security as the threat of a terrorist attack or avoid travelling to a “underdeveloped” countries. If this is the case, it is a totally short-sighted view. Security is also feeling sure that whatever may go wrong with your trip, you have the legal and financial backup of a professional company that complies with all requirements in the tourism sector.
On the side of the DMC, we have also wondered many times what can be done to avoid this dishonest competition. we feel that a suitable solution may be to spread the voice and thus disseminate the feeling that security is also finding the right partner and making sure that this partner, and the legal system behind it, will back you up in case something may go wrong with your event.
Next time you think of organizing an event in a foreign destination… think twice before choosing the right partner to provide ground services!