Stéphane Teboul, General Manager at b-network, a DMC agency that works on congresses of great magnitude such as the Mobile World Congress, where it is the official partner managing the delegate accommodation, tells us from his point of view how to work with this kind of congress, the role of the DMC agencies and the need for the sector to adapt to technological change, amongst other things.
– The DMC agencies must be very different now from 25 years ago, more or less when you started to dedicate yourself to this sector. Has the method of working with suppliers changed much since then? And the clients’ requirements?
Stèphane: Very much! The change in access to information with the internet revolution has produced a profound mutation in the sector. A DMC today must have a real added value and have it recognised and also apply transparency regulations if it wishes to remain in the market. Direct promotion and the verticalization of the hotel sector have also helped greatly, forcing the agencies to reinvent themselves and modernise their business models.
Nowadays a DMC agency must provide real added value and apply transparency regulations.
– For several years now, b-network is the official agency that manages the accommodation for participants at the Mobile World Congress. We would love you to share with us the secret to capturing such an important client and cultivating the loyalty of the organisers.
Stèphane: We have been lucky enough to have grown with this congress. In our sector, in which we offer pure service, the human relationship is fundamental. We are very conscious of the privilege represented by managing the accommodation for the Mobile World Congress and we constantly ask ourselves what we have to do in order to retain the trust and respect of the organiser.
– At the latest edition of MWC there were over 94.000 participants from almost every country in the world. These numbers are astonishing. How do you manage the accommodation for so many people efficiently?
Stèphane: In certain aspects, the management of a grand scale event is easier than that of an average size event. We do not worry so much about our ability to sell our stock, but rather the quality of the experience for our clients.
In this case, the vision that we have at b-network is through a triangle of clients: those from the congress organisation who choose the destination, the clients that attend the congress, and ultimately, the hoteliers who have invested to allow such an emblematic congress to establish itself and grow to such a magnificent size in our city.
– Technological advances have generated great changes and have been key factors in providing better services. We would love to hear how these changes have influenced the management and organisation of congresses.
Stèphane: A broad subject … technology is part of the DNA of the accommodation management services. The pioneers of the sector and mega brokers online such as booking.com, have set out the guidelines on a technological level and clients now expect that. One has to maintain the tools on a level with the expectations of the clients, always focusing the objectives towards the simplicity and clarity of the offer. This aspect of the business has turned it into the backbone of our activity. We have our own IT company, with a team dedicated to the development of technological tools all year round, covering a wide range of expectations according to each client profile. The key is to try and maintain a personalised service in a context of high demand and with intense traffic of information.
The key to adapting to the technological changes in the sector is to maintain a personalised service in a context of high demand and with intense traffic of information.
– For the DMC agencies it is very important to be surrounded by reliable suppliers, able to satisfy the needs of the client, from the venue and the accommodation to transport companies, conference hostesses and activities. What should be considered when selecting the suppliers and ensuring that they fulfil the clients’ expectations?
Stèphane: A DMC agency benefits from the talent and professionalism of its suppliers. The long term relationship with our suppliers has to be balanced and should encourage the desire to exceed the expectations of our clients. Respecting the supplier and being concerned about their motivations and working conditions are attitudes that, in the long term, benefit us greatly.
Respecting the supplier, being concerned about their motivations and working conditions, in the long term, benefits the DMC agencies.
– At large scale events, where there has to be a great deal of coordination between teams, incidents and unforeseen circumstances sometimes occur. We would like to pass on some tips on how to manage these incidents to our followers. Can you give us any tips or advice?
Stèphane: As, obviously, it is impossible to foresee the unforeseeable, the main objective is not to lose control in order to concentrate on where immediate measures must be taken at the last minute. The challenge is in turning an unforeseen incident into an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to react. If you achieve this, it adds a great deal to the quality of the relationship with your clients.
– Having worked for so many large scale events and different fairs, we are sure you can sense some of the changes which could help us figure out where the sector is heading. How do you see the future of the large events and fairs?
Stèphane: Optimistically! Although we are immersed in the transition of the communication technologies, with ever more efficient tools for virtual or distance communication, congress delegates still need to meet up. Nothing can replace human contact with regards to establishing ways of collaboration with confidence.
– Cities such as Madrid, Barcelona and Paris are some of the most sought-after destinations for organising fairs and congresses. What do you believe is the key to them remaining in the ranking of “top destinations” in the MICE sector?
Stèphane: Preserving the power of attraction and the qualities that have allowed such a high level to be reached. Not losing the soul of the destination and the pride resulting from the excellent reputation of the destination and the wellbeing of its visitors.