Cultivating Collaborations with DMCs to Drive International Luxury Travel

March 17, 2022
Man and woman walk with their luggage on a luxury hotel's dock.

Tourism boards are learning new lessons left and right, but a big one to put at the top of the list involves the international travel trade and, more specifically, converting business from the international luxury travel market.

For DMOs this means knowing the power of your local DMCs.

Know Your DMCs

Let’s be clear. As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, luxury travel, thanks to more generous budgets, will be disproportionately effective in advancing destination recovery. Luxury travel is by nature, less constrained by the limits of most commercial travelers. At the same time, high expectations and increasingly specific demands from international luxury travelers and their advisors require extra attention and intricate knowledge of a destination in order to justify the significant spending.

The international luxury travel market is looking for exclusivity, with Travel Weekly dubbing the new wave of travel “ultraluxe.” Most travel advisors, unfortunately, can’t handle these customized bookings on their own. Instead, they book exclusive experiences through destination management companies, or DMCs, that sell experiences specifically to foreign visitors. Together travel advisors can cater to high-end demands beyond the scope of what most traditional tour operators can provide them – but travel advisors need to know who these DMCs are!

In order to maximize the potential of ultraluxe traveler bookings, tourism boards, themselves more pivotal than ever, need to form closer relationships with DMCs that are working to promote the destination to international travel trade. Together you can identify and package experiences for uber luxury travelers who are going to come to your destination and spend the pretty penny that benefits your local experience operators.

Curating Exclusive Experiences

As international travel continues to rebuild, financial resources continue to be scarce. That won’t change anytime soon. Luxury travel bookings, however, will not subside especially as major destinations open again. For national tourism boards, it’s time to curate relationships with DMCs to increase yield per traveler even if targeting ultraluxe travelers doesn’t generate huge changes in visitor volume.

Destinations need to know who the DMCs are in their region and what they are offering so they can work with them to bring specific new experiences to the luxury travel market. DMCs have the means to provide exclusive experiences to the high-yield travelers that your destination wants to attract.

At the same time, your regional tourism offices will have their own ideas on exclusive experiences that they can create for the DMCs to sell. The result? Precious synergy and an uptick in high-yield visitation, which leads to an increase in sales volume overall.

So instead of working overtime to figure out ways to reach luxury travelers, partner with DMCs who are already primed and poised to help increase visitation to your destination through the international luxury travel market. Give them the support that they need to sell your destination so that they can better convert sales of your unique destination experiences.

For Experience Providers in Market

For the partners and experience providers in-market, there is also so much to be gained by aligning with DMCs. Work with your regional or national tourism boards to get on their radars. The specialized nature of luxury travel means that smaller, independent, and often hyper-localized experiences are exactly what DMCs are looking for – and you can provide these experiences.

DMCs hey need your local specialized knowledge and services as much as you need them to market you to luxury travel retailers. In the end, everyone wins. Connect with your regional or national tourism board and CC the most relevant DMC to get the ball rolling. Meet in person or hop on a phone call and begin plotting a path to success to attract luxury visitors.

IITA and Cooperation

In the U.S. the International Inbound Travel Association (IITA) acts as a nonprofit network of DMCs, helping maximize inbound visitation by targeting international travel agents and travel trade entities. It’s a key example of how DMCs work together to achieve a shared goal.

Take a look at your destination’s efforts to ensure you are keyed into what organizations like the IITA are doing. If this is sounding like a foreign language to you, consider this your Duolingo lesson for the day.

Tourism boards can plan a visit to the North American market with your DMCs for sales calls and to launch a training program together. Additionally, tourism boards will benefit by working with DMCs to plan press and familiarization trips, which in return gains visibility for the products they are selling among the journalists, meeting planners, and travel trade they help host.

Pooling resources and sharing costs to achieve a mutual goal only makes sense. Tourism boards bring their experience and reach to the table, while DMCs bring their insider knowledge on negotiating distribution commissions to the table.

Build your tourism economy back together without the stress of doing it alone. Your team – and your unique tourism experience  – will be happy that you did.

Looking to maximize international tourism organizations for your destination’s goals? The travel trade is a complex ecosystem but DCI has more than 60 years of experience helping destinations thrive in it. Get in touch with Amalia Meliti at [email protected] to learn more about how DCI’s services can bolster your efforts to attract international luxury travel.