Careers in a Destination Management Company (DMC)
What is a DMC?
Destination Management Companies (DMCs) are an integral part of the tourism industry as they play a critical role in connecting travellers with tourism service providers. In very simple terms, a DMC will connect a travel agency with tourism services, including hotels, tour guides and hosted experiences within a destination. The travel agency in turn will sell these offerings and products to their clients as a package. The DMC functions as the eyes and ears on the ground, ensuring that suppliers fulfil their obligations and intervening on behalf of the travel agency and client if there is a problem in the plan.
A career in a DMC is well suited for those who have a passion to travel and explore the country they are promoting. This is also a great career opportunity if you have an interest in sales and marketing, as it can be challenging to sell a destination or experience to international travellers and travel agents/partners. Not only would you have to sell Sri Lanka as a destination, but also your organisation, in a very competitive environment. Those who have a keen interest in operations management will also find a career in a DMC appealing, as there is a considerable amount of coordination and logistic arrangements required.
The following job roles can be found at a structured, traditional DMC. There are many boutique DMCs, catering to niche markets, that may have a different structure and different job roles.
Junior Executive and Executive – develops tour itineraries and coordinates logistics for international travellers, makes bookings and coordinates with hotels, tour guides, transport providers, etc. An Executive level employee will have a little more responsibility in organising and managing tours.
Senior Executive – the responsibilities are very similar to the above, but the Senior Executive plays a more supervisory role. At this stage the employee will begin liaising with overseas partners and start building relationships with them. They will also get involved in marketing activities with existing partners. They will generally have a small team working under them. Although the management may encourage them to go looking for new business, it is not their core function. When someone at this level proves that they have a knack for bringing in new business, the management will expand the role further, paving the way for them to progress into the role of Assistant Manager.
Assistant Manager – those in this position are account managers that overlook accounts and certain countries. They are required to travel to overseas markets, bring in new business partners, maintain relationships with existing partners, and liaise with the middle management of overseas tour operators. They play a business development and relationship management role, in addition to managing operations as well. They are required to work closely with the team of Junior and Senior Executives to ensure operations run smoothly.
Manager – is responsible for a particular country or cluster of countries, depending on the size of the market. They play a more strategic role – strategic management, strategic thinking and planning. They are also required to get involved in financial and revenue planning, while also stepping into handle crises, should they arise.
School-leavers with Advanced Level qualification can enter the organisation as a Junior Executive. Work experience and/or a degree in a related field will allow you to enter the organisation at an Executive level. NAITA and TVEC qualifications will bring added value and be beneficial in preparing you for the industry. Most large DMC organisations will provide mandatory training to ensure you are well equipped to perform your tasks at an optimal level. Self learning, especially regarding the destination you are promoting and its different attractions and experiences, will definitely give you an edge.
- Team player
- Have an understanding or knack for interacting with people
- Coordination and organising skills
- Ability to work under pressure
- Language skills – English is necessary, and French, German, Mandarin, Spanish, Italian are advantageous
Vacancies for jobs in this field are generally advertised. You can also submit your CV on the website of larger DMC organisations, and they will get in touch if they feel they have a suitable opportunity. At a junior level, you will probably be interviewed by an HR Manager and Assistant Manager. They will focus on your skill set and may even ask you to demonstrate the use of a key skill. They could post hypothetical questions to see how you may handle a situation, and question you on your knowledge of Sri Lanka.
Those applying for more senior positions will probably be interviewed by a company Director or CEO. Your experience, success and strategic thinking and planning abilities will most likely be discussed at the interview.
Entry level salaries range from Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 35,000. Assistant Managers can take home between Rs. 80,000 to 100,000. You may also receive incentives for achieving targets. Working hours will largely depend on the markets you are working with.