Everything’s bigger in Texas, even corporate event planning. And now, with the recent alignment of premier Texas event planner Outstanding Productions and national destination management powerhouse ACCESS Destination Services (ACCESS), professionals looking to meet in the Lone Star state have even bigger, better things to look forward to.
One Name, One Vision, One Company
Jeff Davis cofounded Outstanding Productions in 1997 with business partner Robert Hayden. The company quickly established itself for its creativity, enthusiasm and personalized service. With the addition of industry guru Patty Phelps, the company grew into one of the most successful destination management companies in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex. Creating custom programs for each client, Outstanding Productions established a proven track record of designing, planning and executing innovative events. Though proud of the Outstanding Productions brand and reputation, Davis and his entire team saw the strategic value of aligning with the ACCESS brand and expanding the company’s national reach. By October 2012 the deal was final and Outstanding Productions became ACCESS Texas, combining national reach with local expertise for the benefit of their clients and industry partners.
ACCESS Destination Services was established in 1970 as California Leisure Consultants. In 2000 the company changed its name to better reflect the services it provides. Since then, ACCESS has been expanding nationwide. Chris Lee, DMCP and CEO of ACCESS, has spent 30 years in the business as a second-generation owner and operator. His father, Phil Lee, started California Leisure Consultants in Southern California and is credited with coining the term “destination management company,” or DMC as it’s known in the industry.
Eleven ACCESS offices throughout the U.S. – located in Arizona, Chicago, South Florida, Orlando, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Northern California, Orange County, Palm Springs, San Diego and now Texas – give meeting planners “access” to the best corporate event in each destination. Over 100 full-time and up to 700 part-time total employees combine to generate more than $40 million annually as one of the premier destination management companies in the nation. The company is consistently ranked a Top 25 worldwide in its industry.
When Lee approached Davis and Hayden about aligning with ACCESS, it was a win-win situation. “I was attracted by Outstanding Production’s creativity, level of customer service, and attention to detail,” says Lee. “They have high-caliber team and are as committed to service in Texas as we are in the rest of the country.” Lee realized that it was a big decision for Outstanding. “To give up your brand name is a really big deal,” reflects Lee. “Unlike cobranded organizations, where member companies come and go, ACCESS is a long-term commitment among like-minded owners.”
With that in mind, Davis posed the decision to his Outstanding Productions’ team, select clients and industry partners and gauged the reaction of these industry veterans. The response was overwhelmingly positive. It was definitely a team decision based on understanding Chris’ vision and the value of the ACCESS national presence. “Our new ACCESS alliance allows us to participate nationally in a way that we never would have been able to do before,” reinforces Phelps, ACCESS Texas Vice President of Sales. “With our pre-existing hotel partnerships, being a part of a national team like ACCESS’s significantly expands our reach!”
Lee explains further, saying, “Each individual ACCESS office has certain limitations locally, but when combined with the other ACCESS offices together, we can spread our spheres of influence much wider. It’s like a marketing multiplier. Our alliance allows us to leverage relationships, expertise and resources for the benefit of our shared clients.”
The newly branded ACCESS Texas also incorporates the capabilities of Outstanding Productions’ associated companies, including Fauxcades Inc., a décor and prop company; OP Online Express, LLC, an online meeting and event services company; and valuable hotel partnerships.
Both Davis and Lee place high value on team members and client relationships. “It was important to me that [Jeff and I] shared the same vision for the future, values, commitment to customer service, and culture of how we treat our people,” says Lee. “Having a strong team is the most important aspect of serving the customer ... First, and foremost, is the desire to serve the customer. Things like market share and profit just tend to follow.”
To announce the change, Lee and Davis reached out to have one-on-one conversations with major clients, hotel partners, vendors, assuring them that not only would they still receive the same consistency of experience, but also their service would continue to be superlative. “Being around since 1970, we have client relations that go back 20 to 30 years,” explains Lee. “We made a lot of personal phone calls and sent emails to let people know what was happening and get their blessing.”
Vendor, partner and client relationships are crucial to the industry. The management of ACCESS Texas understands this, and its personal touch paid off. “It was very important to all of our partners that our team members and culture remain the same,” says Davis. “In retrospect, they weren’t concerned about the ‘name change’ as much as we thought. We reached out to many clients and an overwhelming majority reacted positively about the name change, especially since we were becoming a part of such a successful ACCESS brand!”
A Bigger Party
Part of ACCESS’ added value is being a one-stop shop for clients’ destination management needs. From devising creative concepts to coordinating transportation logistics, corporate social responsibility programs and recreational activities, ACCESS coordinates one-of-a-kind events from start to finish. ACCESS can pull off any theme, anytime, anywhere, working in a sightseeing tour, a beach party with a fireworks display, a Texas-sized ranch party, a battle of the bands, a sports outing or anything else imaginable.
“As a team, we all feel we are doing what we were put on this earth to do,” enthuses Davis. “This branch of the service industry is always full of new and exciting experiences! One of the reasons for the success of our company is we take the destination management event style to another level. We strive to customize each event to the client’s needs and we are very passionate about every single aspect of the DMC program!”
At the end of 2012, ACCESS Texas even took home two awards – Best Corporate Event Over $200,000 and Best Event Design-Décor $25,000-$75,000 – from the International Special Events Society’s Texas Star Awards.
ACCESS Texas is taking advantage of its new and long-term synergies to combat the recent economic downturn, which took a toll on event budgets. “We kept our relationships in place, and developed new opportunities introduced through the partnership,” shares Phelps. “When business rebounded it came back two to threefold for us. Our clients are involved in virtually every segment of the economy... and we work alongside them whether they’re celebrating or strategizing or training. In the last four years we’ve seen and experienced cautious optimism.”
As clients regroup from the recent economic uncertainty, ACCESS Texas will offer them one-stop event management and access to the best of the Southwest, with its star-filled skies, golden prairies, historic sites and vibrant cities. Combining creativity, longevity and superlative service, ACCESS Destination Services and ACCESS Texas are partners in delivery of extraordinary programs for a discerning clientele.