Jan Zandboer, the president and CEO of Select Group Marketing, recently sat down with Lori Smith, editor-in-chief of The Incentivist, to share his thoughts on how marketing representation companies work, the value of working with DMCs and some of the discoveries he’s made in destinations around the world. (Photo left: Jan exploring the canals of Amsterdam with Brigitte.)
The Incentivist: How did you get started in the MICE industry?
Jan: I have a background in hospitality. My parents ran a concert hall and a number of f&b outlets so I grew up in the industry. After graduating from the Hotel Management School in Tilburg and doing just over a year of mandatory service in the Dutch army, I joined the Holland America Line. I worked as a food and beverage controller for five years aboard a number of their ships. I also met my wife, Brigitte, on one of the cruises. In 1987, we moved from Holland to Canada. I started working at the Netherlands Board of Tourism and got introduced to the meetings and incentives industry. I took a liking to the industry and the people working in it immediately. Moira Hearn, the founder of Select Group Marketing, was one of the first people I met. She was a real leader in the Canadian MICE market and someone everybody looked up to. I started working with her a bit in 2011. In 2012, when she passed away, I took over the company. I am so pleased to have been working in the Canadian MICE market full-time for the past eight years. And happy to work with my wife, Brigitte, who joined the company five years ago.
The Incentivist: What role does a DMC representation company play in the industry?
Jan: A representation company is the link between planners and DMCs, bringing the two together so they can create memorable events and programs. Planners benefit from the rep company’s intimate knowledge of destinations, expertise on MICE product, and ability to provide solutions and match needs to products. DMCs profit from increased sales visibility, expanded distribution channels, increased market share, immediate access to strong relationships, and targeted sales approach in a foreign marketplace.
The Incentivist: How do destination management companies help planners?
Jan: I see a DMC as an indispensable extension of buyers’ and planners’ teams. A DMC might plan an entire program and just work on parts of it. A DMC knows its destination intimately, knows its intricacies and can assist in choosing the program items and events that will help the planner meet their client’s objectives.
The Incentivist: What do you look for in a DMC you’re considering adding to your portfolio?
Jan: First of all, we like to grow organically and do not take on many new DMCs each year. It is important to understand which destinations we can get business for. Sometimes it takes a while for the industry to pick up on a certain destination and sometimes it takes off immediately. We will never take on a DMC in a destination where we feel we cannot produce. Of course, they are also all vetted thoroughly. In some cases, where we are not necessarily fully familiar with the destination, we actually travel over there to familiarize ourselves and to have a look “in the kitchen” of the DMC.
The Incentivist: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Jan: Seeing a program come to fruition is a great feeling. And it really does not matter if it is a program of 20 or 2,000 people.
The Incentivist: You experience destinations before planners do and often with planners on FAM trips. Where did you go last year?
Jan: Last year was not really a crazy travel year, however I managed to visit Las Vegas, Colombia and Poland.
The Incentivist: What are a few of your discoveries?
Jan: We get to experience a lot of great things in the destinations we represent. These are just a few of things that come to mind immediately.
- Dinner at Elixir in Warsaw, Poland, where every course gets paired with a different vodka.
- Strolling a local market in Bogota, Colombia. Amazing place with a juice bar in the middle where you can try the juices of fruits you’ve never even heard of.
- Celebrating my birthday in Gravity Bar at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin and being serenaded by a few hundred people.
- One of the suites in the Dylan Hotel in Amsterdam is out of this world. View over the canals and rooftops from your bathtub!
There are also many fantastic venues and off-site dinner locations but a few that stand out for me are:
- Carmo Convent and Ruins in Lisbon, Portugal
- Mardi Gras World in New Orleans, USA
- The Church of the Kiscelli Museum in Budapest, Hungary
- The Walls of Cartagena, Colombia
- Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland
- The Cinecitta movie studios in Rome, Italy
- The Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland
- Pink Lake Las Coloradas in Yucatan, Mexico
- Zapotillal Beach dinner and event in Costa Rica
- Dinner on the Pontoon Bridge in Willemstad, Curaçao
- Arikok National Park Stone Formations in Aruba
- Convent of St Agnes in Prague, Czech Republic
- Palacio de Liria, Madrid, Spain
- RIVA Tunnel in Monte Carlo
The Incentivist: Great talking with you!
Jan: My pleasure.
Select Group Marketing (SGM) is a marketing representation company specializing in the group, meeting and incentive market. It currently serves as the Canadian National Sales Office for 11 of the world’s leading destination management companies (DMCs), operating in 14 destinations worldwide.
- New Orleans, Louisiana ‒ BBC Destination Management
- Aruba ‒ ECO DMS
- Curaçao ‒ ECO DMS
- Costa Rica – Premio DMC
- Colombia ‒ GEMA Tours
- Mexico ‒ Maritur DMC
- Czech Republic ‒ Senator Meetings & Incentives
- Hungary ‒ Senator Meetings & Incentives
- Ireland ‒ Ovation Ireland
- Italy ‒ EMI Meetings & Incentives
- Poland ‒ Senator Meetings & Incentives
- Portugal ‒ Portugal Travel Team
- Southern France & Monaco ‒ InspireME Monte Carlo
- Spain – Ovation Spain
Through its affiliation with Ovation Global, SGM also has access to DMCs in many other destinations around the world.
w | sgm-canada.com
t | (416) 322-6018