The Experience Factor

With the growth in program attendees’ expectations for an “experience” with their meetings and conventions beyond just content, it is evident that memorable events are the new norm. In a nutshell:  the “Experience Economy” is not only back, but the bar has been raised even higher than it was before the recession — and it is as compelling as ever! So what are some of the hot trends that are occurring in Destination Management Company (DMC) services?

According to Catherine Chaulet, president of Global DMC Partners – a trusted and valued member of ALHI’s Global Luxury Alliance, which provides outstanding DMC services in 100 destinations worldwide — one of the hottest trends they’ve been seeing across the board is incorporating healthy living into meetings and events.

According to Catherine, “It seems that almost everyone is taking steps to live a healthier, more active and happier lifestyle. We see this trend popping up at more and more events, as guests do not want to forego their healthy habits when traveling or attending a multi-day event. Fitbits and other health-tracking devices are all the rage, and so are ‘sweat-working’ programs instead of networking programs.”

Another hot trend Catherine cited in recent events is the “Recycle and Redesign” concept, where everyday or industrial items are being reproduced into stunning, unique event décor for everything from business events to weddings.

“Shabby chic is so ‘in’ these days!” said Catherine.

She also reports that “some sort of surprise element is big (at events), especially when it involves the venue itself. Our DMCs have used projection mapping, or video mapping, to turn spaces into display surfaces for video. With just a few clicks, a hotel ballroom or blank warehouse can be transformed into an underground speakeasy or an elegant opera house. Or pop-up street markets with local vendors and pop-up fashion markets, like blue jeans or sunglasses bars, can surprise guests and make them feel fully immersed in the destination to experience the local culture.”

Catherine added, “If the event doesn’t allow time for your attendees to get out to shop or dine, bring both to them!”

Strength of the Economy

 Another trend that we at ALHI have been seeing is that the strength of the U.S. economy and the U.S. dollar is enabling companies and organizations to spend more on distinctive experiences, and they are utilizing DMCs to do so.

Note that this does not mean the event needs to be extravagant. But providing memorable experiences in an environment that is motivating, compelling and unique (domestically and/or abroad), actually increases your ROI. And all of this can be accomplished while protecting your budget as well.

Now, for example, is a great time for groups to experience Europe to take advantage of the increased buying power of the U.S. currency, as the U.S. dollar has strengthened 26% against the Euro over the past five years, and 21% versus the Euro since 2013.

Utilizing a DMC that provides skilled, local expertise and can incorporate unique experiences that reflect the destination and local culture is a cost-effective way to accomplish the program’s objectives while providing truly memorable experiences.

Along with the strength of the dollar, we’ve seen that the improving U.S. economy also is enabling groups to expand the number of attendees, particularly for meetings, conventions and programs within the U.S. A win-win for all – the organization, attendees and the venue!

CSR Programs

Another trend that continues to grow is incorporating Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) events into programs – for which DMCs can provide suggestions pertinent to the area and can help coordinate. This can range from incorporating a Clean The World event to help recycle soap for distribution to impoverished people, to planting trees in the community, to food drives for the homeless, to hosting a “lip sync” contest where every vote costs $1 to benefit a designated charity.

If properly coordinated, with key executives on board and participating, the CSR event often is the most memorable part of the program for attendees.

To find out more about the many services, hot trends and unique options available, contact your ALHI GSO for trusted DMC providers.

david-gabri-ceo-of-associated-luxury-hotels-international-alhi-2David Gabri is CEO of Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI), the leading independent Global Sales Organization serving the North American Meetings & Incentive marketplace for its membership of over 250 luxury-level hotels and resorts around the world. ALHI’s portfolio also features Destination Management Companies (DMCs) in more than 100 locations worldwide, plus 23 luxury-level cruise ships. Contact your nearest ALHI Global Sales Office, or call the “ALHI Group Desk” toll-free at 866-303-2544, and visit .

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