When you’re planning about 15 big-time meetings every year on a state and national level, it pays to be a tad meticulous. Jennifer Dickie, CAE, CMP, vice president of events at Association Management Resources in Ann Arbor, has a knack for that.
“Jennifer is a creative leader when managing events,” says Heidi Schmitt, GMS, CTA, director of state accounts for Experience Grand Rapids. “She’s not afraid to step outside the box to cultivate and implement atypical, imaginative solutions that produce positive results for her clients on all levels.”
Dickie, a 25-plus year hotel and meeting management industry veteran, has a reputation for inspiring those around her.
MIM+E: How did you get involved in the industry?
JD: My first experience with meetings was as a sales intern while in college. When I was in college there were not classes on meeting planning. It was all about hotel management. Once I graduated, I began my career as a hotel sales manager. After a few years I went to the Detroit CVB as a salesperson. After spending 10 years on the supplier side of the industry, I had the opportunity to move to the planner side with Association Management Resources. I have now been with Association Management Resources (AMR) for 15 years.
MIM+E: What are some of your favorite events?
JD: At AMR, we plan 30 events annually that range in size from 100 to 8,000 people. I have my hands in about 15 of the events that we do as a company. The events that are the most fun are those that challenge me to be a better planner. By that I mean those that allow me to be creative and try new things.
MIM+E: What are your biggest challenges?
JD: My style for managing meetings and events is to be organized and to plan for the unexpected. There will always be things that pop up at any event. I think that during those instances, if you take a thoughtful and calm approach, then those around you will do the same. I never want attendees to know that something happened unexpectedly. I always want to create a flawless experience for attendees.
MIM+E: Do you like to inject new trends or do you favor the classic traditions?
JD: I think that if you do not inject new trends, when appropriate, your event will become dated and stale. We try to find a balance between the two. By keeping a balance, it keeps attendees excited and engaged to see what is new without losing all the familiarity of an annual event.
MIM+E: What do you find most rewarding about your work?
JD: It’s seeing the event happen. After months and sometimes years of planning, it is gratifying to see it all come together. We work with some amazing committee chairs and I love to see them at the conference enjoying themselves and not worrying about the nitty-gritty details. Seeing attendees enjoying the experience is the most rewarding.
MIM+E: Do you have any good war stories to share?
JD: I think all planners have war stories related to a speaker that did not show up or was delayed. In my years, I have only had that happen a few times. At one of the events where a workshop speaker was delayed, we were able to find a member of the audience to facilitate roundtable discussions until the speaker arrived. This goes back to having great committee members that are able to step up and fill-in as needed.