Interviews with Planners - Jody-Ann Rowe

Jody-Ann Rowe is a Toronto, Canada-based Event-preneur launch expert, Founder of the Event Certificate and the Conference and Meeting Planner for Osgoode Hall Law School.

With over 10 years of professional experience in the meetings and events industry, Jody-Ann holds a Master’s in Education with a focus on Adult Learning and Digital Literacies, and a Graduate Diploma in Events Management.

She currently works with new event professionals looking to build, launch and grow their event planning businesses.

Rowe has been featured in the Huffington Post, National Post and The Meeting Magazines.

What is the best advice you have ever received as a planner?
It is not about you, it's about the client.

What is the most unique location you have ever planned an event at? What was great, what was challenging?
The most unique location I've ever planned an event at was a community operated and managed cultural arts space featuring a theater, a lounge, art and dance studios. The great thing about this location was the beauty, uniqueness and versatility of the space.

Being a cultural community hub however presented some challenges, in that the community members were also stakeholders of the venue and as such events had to comply with policies and guidelines around cultural practices and community engagement that I had never encountered with other venues.

What advice would you give to someone entering the business today?
Behind all the lights and flowers is a lot of coordination and process implementation. Be prepared to work long hours and learn on the job.

What do you see as the most challenging aspect of being a planner, and how do you overcome that challenge?
Communication is one of the most challenging aspects of being a planner and this applies to communication with all event stakeholders, not just your clients.

It is important to communicate clearly with your client and vendors what will be delivered, how it will be delivered and the deadline, to ensure that deliverables and expectations are aligned to avoid any problems in the future.

To accomplish this I schedule check-ins with my event stakeholders to provide project updates. I also engage them in the planning process through shared tools such as Google Docs or Basecamp, where they can track updates on their own, creating more transparency in the process.

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How do you think our industry will evolve in the next five years?
There is so much content and information being pushed at event attendees right now. I think the industry will see a change to one that is less mass content and more focused and specific, similar to the un-conference and flipped-meeting models that we've seen the last few years.

What makes you successful as a planner?
A successful planner never stops learning. There are so many changes happening in the industry and it's important to keep updated on these changes and how they affect your role as a planner and your events.

In your opinion, what is the best and worst industry trend of the year?
The best industry trend this year has been the use of drones with LED lights at events, for example at the Super Bowl this year. This was entertaining and also has huge implications in the branding and marketing area of events.

The worst industry trend this year is the use of QR coded gaming for attendee and supplier interaction. It's a trend that was fun in the beginning, but has past it's shelf life. Not only that, it is not very effective for ensuring that attendees interact with suppliers, since they will often just scan the code for points and leave.

What is the best industry book that has helped you as a planner?
"Event Planning: The Ultimate Guide To Successful Meetings, Corporate Events, Fundraising Galas, Conferences, Conventions, Incentives and Other Special Events" by Judy Allen. This is the event planning bible for me and one of the first book I ever read when I first started planning events professionally. It is packed with tips and useful information for new event planners.

Jody-Ann Rowe
Event Certificate and Osgoode Hall Law School
Professional Affiliations: Meeting Planners International

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