Destination: Entertainment by Mike Ryan

January 28, 2008 by Mike Ryan

Working with DMCs; are you ready for the cream of the corporate gig crop?When corporate groups, especially the larger ones, bring hundreds and even thousands of their employees to a city for a convention, they often need “local help” with transportation and coordination of a variety of special events. This service is often provided by a Destination Management Company or DMC for short. Conventioneers also like to party and DMCs have entertainment connections too. That’s where DJs comes in. During the holiday season, when DJs are busy, DMCs are dormant. However, when the holiday season drops off, the DMCs are busy again with conventions, and that translates into more parties and potential business for DJs who are connected with this kind of organization!

The Big Leagues: Making the Team
Imagine you’re a meeting planner and you are responsible for organizing your company’s upcoming convention. You’ve got plenty to do and the last things you want to worry about are the ins and outs of an unfamiliar city that you’re only going to be in for a short while. If you’re a seasoned planner, you’ve already hooked up with a local DMC who has all of the contacts you need-including entertainment!
There are challenges for DJs who find themselves working for a DMC, however. The biggest one is just getting a DMC to hire you in the first place. This is truly the big leagues for DJs; the whole attitude changes at this level. PRA Inc., with 19 franchised offices across the America, is one of the biggest DMCs in the country. Dante Mancinelli of PRA’s home office in San Diego says there’s a big difference between regular parties and DJing for a DMC: “Weddings and birthdays tend to be more formula driven. A corporate DJ needs to know what the team is trying to accomplish. The DJ must understand the importance of the partnership we are trying to build. DJs also need to be familiar with the different players that might be on site: Incentive Houses, Production Companies, Entertainment agencies, Travel staff, the end client and the venue contacts.” And, in this setting, he stresses, “Under no circumstances should a DJ ever hand out business cards.”
Where do DJs fit into the entertainment needs at the corporate level? Mancinelli says, “Depending on the program and budget, there are times where a DJ is used as part of a larger party or in between big acts. The DJ can also be the main entertainment! Ideally, the DJ should be able to adjust as needed. Play lists are always helpful, and if a song is ever requested ahead of time, make sure you have it!”
DMCs can afford high quality DJs. So says Roger Devenyns, a sales manager with Star Destination at Starwood properties (Sheraton, “W”): “A DMC brings a higher end client to the table. In general, because DMCs cost money to use, their clients are prepared to spend more money.”
“But with more money comes more expectations,” he adds. “DMCs look for DJs who are professional at all times. Some DMC programs may involve awards or ceremonies requiring the use of the DJ sound system or require the DJ to act as the MC.” Devenyns continues with some important recommendations: “When in doubt, overdress and be overly nice. A DMC’s biggest concern when hiring a DJ is uncertainty. Does the DJ understand the market? DJs need to remember that the event is not a networking opportunity, they (DJs) are there as agents of the DMC and everything they do is a reflection upon the DMC. They cannot drink alcohol, eat the client’s food, give out phone numbers or hand out cards (are you seeing the trend here?).”

Get with the Program; Roll with the Punches
A typical chain of command for an incoming corporate group starts with the corporate meeting planner who contacts the DMC. The DMC then contacts a Talent Agency, which then contacts the entertainment, for example, a DJ. Devenyns says by the time the talent (DJ) gets the contract it becomes a matter of expediency: “Having a discussion about (any) decisions on the day of the event, or on-site, is the VERY LAST thing a Sales/Ops Manager wants to deal with on site. If the DJ is booked through an agency, any and all instructions should have already taken place. The agent should pass that information on to the DJ as thoroughly as possible. That is why the agent is being used to book talent. On-site really becomes: “just do it.”
Last minute changes do happen, however. Devenyns explains: “Sometimes the client decides they need a DJ as a last minute addition. Occasionally everything is arranged through a third party and the DMC contact is meeting the client for the first time at the event. In this case the DMC may simply be unprepared. But that is why they hired you, the DJ, to be professional and to provide good quality service in spite of having minimal information up-front. The DJ who can handle last minutes changes will be the one who get called for more business!”
As you can see, a DMC plays an important role in the convention industry, helping coordinate hospitality and entertainment for the huge conference industry. And because conventioneers like to party, DJs should be very hospitable to DMCs.

Mike Ryan started out writing for news radio, and has DJ’d on KGB and KSDS. He mobiles as Mike on the Mike, and also works part-time as a DMC tour guide. Mike is the inventor/owner of Frankenstand Powered Speaker Stands. He has been the president of the San Diego Professional Tour Guide Association, a board member of his local NACE chapter, and is a member of the San Diego Chapter of the ADJA.

For an extended version of this article get MOBILE BEAT #112, JANUARY 2008.

Mike Ryan Mike Ryan (24 Posts)

Mike Ryan spins at the Corvette Diner in San Diego. He also invented the Air-Powered speaker stand the FRANKENSTAND. He is a 20-year veteran of radio, and served on ADJA and NACE boards.

Filed Under: 2008, Mobile DJ Misc