June 23rd, 2023

Global DMC Partners Hosts Ninth Annual Connection in Dubai

The world’s largest DMC network gathered key industry leaders, top meeting professionals and elite suppliers for its highly anticipated annual conference


Global DMC Partners (GDP), the largest global network of independent destination management companies (DMCs) and specialized event service providers, has successfully concluded its ninth annual Connection, which took place May 18-21, at Atlantis The Palm Dubai. Considered one of the premier educational and networking conferences for meetings and events professionals, this interactive learning experience drew together the ‘who’s who’ of the industry, from destination experts to top voices in travel media.

Photo credit: Pure Arabia, a Global DMC Partner

“2022 was our company’s best year yet and 2023 is trending to be even stronger, so we were particularly delighted to be able to celebrate the industry’s rebound, growth and continued success with our partners, clients and colleagues in such a vibrant, cosmopolitan city as Dubai,” said Global DMC Partners President and CEO Catherine Chaulet. “Our local partner, Pure Arabia, went above and beyond to ensure that our attendees experienced all of the unique offerings that this destination has to offer, from dune sandboarding and dune bashing in the desert to visiting Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world and seeing Dubai from the water in speed boats. Our host venue, Atlantis The Palm, also delivered a flawless experience from start to finish and further raised the bar by providing exclusive access to its newly debuted sister property, Atlantis The Royal. The exceptional support, partnership and service levels we received from The Atlantis was particularly welcomed.”

Photo credit: Pure Arabia, a Global DMC Partner

“Beyond the destination activities and networking opportunities, we were additionally inspired by the high caliber of conversations and collaborative ideas generated from this year’s event, and we eagerly look forward to what is sure to be another successful year ahead for the industry,” concluded Chaulet.

Chaulet led the keynote address, during which she explored current global business, economic and travel trends, while highlighting valuable insights and data to help meeting and event professionals be better prepared for the year ahead.

Photo credit: Pure Arabia, a Global DMC Partner

Across the three days, some of the key recurring themes and topics included:

  • Budgets for meetings and incentives programs are not aligned with inflationary pressure and costs.
  • Access to talent coupled with the need for training and extreme high/last minute demand for programs are adding pressure on meeting planners. An agile staffing model is key to managing these challenges.
  • Work-life balance in this environment is back to pre-pandemic levels.
  • While sustainability is top of mind for everyone, Europeans continue to lead the pace in integrating sustainability into their programs.
  • Technology can be a big factor in implementing some sustainable initiatives, such as tracking carbon footprints from attendees’ travel and using online gifting platforms.
  • Meeting planners continue to struggle with technology integrations and functionality and are looking for support from technology partners.
  • Hotel, venue, staffing and ground transportation availability continues to be challenging, especially in the context of last-minute demand and limited budgets.
  • Increased airfare and hotel costs are dramatically impacting budgets, leaving less for other program elements.
  • Contract negotiations, or the lack thereof, are especially difficult for meeting planners.
  • The need for creative, unique ideas and exclusive access continues to be a top driver for meeting planners.
  • Ultimately, partnerships are key; it is who you know and how you can trust those partners to ensure the delivery of a successful program.
  • Meeting planners continue to struggle with getting approval from decisions makers in a timely manner, thus putting pressure on the vendors helping to execute the program.
  • Between the extreme high costs and the ongoing decline in service levels from the airlines, along with service disruptions, baggage issues, limited staffing and IT breakdown issues, and concerns for what is to come this summer, air travel continues to be a major burden on the industry.
  • Mixing up and changing program agendas, engaging with attendees in new and different ways, and providing flexible travel options, allowing attendees to take advantage of loyalty programs, gain points, use their status, etc. are all ways planners are trying to attract attendees to events.