by Matt Alderton | January 19, 2016
To offset the rising costs of meetings and events, meeting planners increasingly are relying on destination marketing organizations (DMOs) to provide them with financial incentives and other carrots.

So finds a new survey of 398 meeting executives by DMO consultancy FULCRUM and hospitality consultancy the Kliman Group. Conducted in December, it found that the availability of financial incentives now ranks higher than broad destination collaboration as the primary indicator of community support contributing to a city's overall appeal as a meeting destination.

"Meeting executives told us that the biggest thing keeping them up at night are the relentless increases in lodging, food and beverage, and Wi-Fi while their meeting budgets remain largely flat," said David Kliman, president of the Kliman Group and co-founder of FULCRUM. "They also expressed frustration at the explosion of new service charges and fees and are increasingly turning to DMOs to help mitigate the cost increases through various means."

Additionally, planners say they expect to significantly increase their DMO business activities in the areas of attendance marketing and sponsorship identification to grow their meetings revenue. For instance, partnering with DMOs on social media marketing was seen as an increasing popular service for DMOs to offer groups in support of their events.

"One of the powerful survey takeaways for DMO leaders was that in the last 12 months, 48 percent of meeting executives have increased their DMO business dealings somewhat or significantly," said Bruce MacMillan, co-founder of FULCRUM. "The driver of this increase appears to be the need for executives to grow the business performance of their events, be it revenue growth, attendee engagement, etc."

Finally, FULCRUM asked meeting executives what the one thing is that DMOs can start doing to better serve them. Their top answers: DMOs should start curating local intellectual capital, stop using traditional print advertising and email marketing, and use strategic events and site visits to build relationships and destination credibility