Destination Management Companies – DMCs – The Backbone of Los Cabos Tourism

Los Cabos Magazine article by Sabrina Lear – Issue #9 – July 2004.

Destination management companies—DMCs—are exactly that, managing all aspects of tourist services within a destination. Los Cabos is fortunate to have a nucleus of seasoned companies that specialize in knowing every facet of the region, adding to its cachet as México’s premier resort area. Known as a “high end” destination, in Los Cabos DMCs must satisfy the demands of a sophisticated and well traveled clientele accustomed to world class service, placing our destination management companies amongst the finest worldwide.

DMCs, also known as ground handlers, operate on many levels—juggling the needs of individual travelers, VIPs, corporate and leisure groups, and motivational incentive programs. Whether you arrive in Los Cabos on a vacation charter or as a national sales meeting attendee, a DMC will be involved in your stay. If you’ve booked a “vacation package,” prepaying your airfare, transportation and hotel, your DMC “rep” will greet you at the airport and oversee transportation to your accommodations. After checking in, you may attend an orientation with area information, things to do, and activities or tours available through the DMC. And, your hotel or resort may have a lobby Tours and Activities desk staffed by the same or another DMC.

Full-service DMCs provide every detail of group and incentive travel at the destination. Services on the ground will be as unique as each individual group, tailor made to the goals and the activities engaged in during their stay. Before the group arrives, a planner—either from within the group’s company or outsourced—will have performed a site inspection of Los Cabos far in advance, with a predetermined DMC, or with several once in the destination. The planner chooses the hotel; room gifts; meeting, award ceremony and restaurant venues; theme parties and teambuilding events; cruises; tours and activities; and the DMC who will make it all happen. It is at this critical time that a DMC’s corporate image, experience, and professionalism must be demonstrated in order to land the account. Experienced DMCs generally have the advantage: with client testimonials, referrals, and their track record in the destination giving them the edge over newer ground handlers.

Moving people efficiently and on time is a major component of every DMC. Some will have an in-house transportation division; others will contract the service from suppliers for fleets of buses, vans and Suburbans, chauffeured limos, and vehicles for program activities like jeep tours.

Within the area, DMCs interact with other hospitality professionals including hotel management, property managers, restaurants, private chefs and caterers, entertainment agencies, audio visual and telecommunications providers, tour and activity suppliers; and anyone else critical to the success of the program.

Contactincentives Destination Management, Terramar Destinations, and Tropical Incentives Los Cabos DMC were amongst the pioneer DMC services in Los Cabos, all beginning in the early 1990s when the area began gaining popularity with group and incentive planners. In those days, before cellular phones, Internet connections, four lane highways, and group-friendly venues, successfully hosting a group often meant managing by the seats of many pants. Today, these same DMCs have turned this experience and adaptability to a winning advantage, vying for the ever-growing group and incentive market with younger startups, and their contemporaries.

Each DMC has a distinct image and style. Program design and special event themes are usually closely guarded, with each company providing the same basic services with their own signature flare. Some may focus on VIP or luxury groups, others preferring less demanding mid-priced incentives, or they may target sports-oriented golf and fishing groups. All address the many needs of the groups and incentives market. Some DMCs are able to satisfy any demand or type of group due to a large staff, abundant resources, and boundless creativity.

Contactincentives grew from a San Diego-based transportation company in the late 1980s to a full-service DMC in 1992. One of the original ground handlers for many airline package and charter airport transfers in the early days, Contactincentives evolved to meet the demand of group and incentive travel to Los Cabos. Today the company has offices in La Paz, Loreto, Ixtapa, and Puerto Vallarta.

After ten years in Mexico and Los Cabos as a vacation charter area manager, bilingual Managing Director Kimberly Clapham founded full service Terramar in 1993. Headquartered and focusing its expertise in Los Cabos, with many long-term employees, Terramar has achieved Premier Partner status at Maritz Travel Company, a foremost U.S. meeting planner. Distinctive Terramar is highly regarded among incentive and group planners and corporations.

Tropical Incentives Los Cabos DMC is a leading DMC in Mexico, founded by Arturo Aguirre in Cancun in 1984, opening their Cabo office with San José del Cabo-based Mario Hernandez in 1992. Tropical Incentives expanded to Puerto Vallarta in 1996. One of the first full service DMCs in the destination, Tropical Incentives has a solid reputation in Los Cabos, with a large client base, and is one of Cabo’s top DMCs.

Owned and operated by La Paz native Oscar Nuñez, Advantage Marketing & Incentives (AM&I) has been a full service DMC in Los Cabos since 1999. One of the few locally born DMC operators in the area, Sr. Nuñez has a background in tourism and the DMC industry.

Cabo Travel Advisers (CTA) is another area DMC specializing in full-service support from transportation to group and event planning, headquartered in Los Cabos since 1999. Victor Mena, who has a background in the hospitality industry throughout Mexico, directs CTA.

Headquartered in Cancun since 1986, I.V.I. is very well known throughout México as a leading DMC, with offices and franchises in Acapulco, Ixtapa, Merida, México City, Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Maya, Costa Rica, and in the United States through PRA Destination Management. I.V.I. has been providing full DMC services to Los Cabos since 2001.

Like Contactincentives, TransCabo began as a transportation company, providing ground services and tours for Earth Sea and Sky Vacations, an industry leader in the Los Cabos luxury villa and resort rental market. TransCabo has been operating as a full-service DMC for the individual, group, and incentive market since 1999.

Whether you’re planning a VIP executive golf getaway; a tropical wedding; a fashion photo shoot; or a large scale incentive group with over-the-top themed special events, motivational programs and awards ceremonies, Los Cabos has the resources and talent to make your vision come alive. A dynamic group of destination management professionals is ready to make every aspect of your trip a rewarding and unforgettable success.