how to become an event planner

Destination Management Careers

In this section, we'll look at the pros and cons of destination management careers—as described by a professional; Jennifer Miller, Partner and President, ACCESS Destination Services.

Jennifer Miller
Jennifer Miller
ACCESS Destination Services

Jennifer Miller, DMCP, is a Partner of ACCESS Destination Services and President of its offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Arizona. Founded in 1970, ACCESS is one of the most recognized destination management and event production companies with 14 offices throughout North America.

After studying travel & tourism at San Diego State University, Jennifer began her career in the hospitality industry as a meeting planner/account executive for a local incentive travel firm working predominantly in the banking and financial sector. In 2000, she joined ACCESS San Diego as a Program Manager working on meetings, special events and incentive travel programs for Fortune 100 companies such as Microsoft, Exxon Mobil, Toyota, and AT&T. Then, as Director of Operations, she managed a team of program managers and was responsible for all client program operations and key account management. In 2004, Jennifer was promoted to General Manager of the San Diego office. By 2010, her leadership role was expanded to include the Los Angeles, Arizona and Las Vegas ACCESS offices. Jennifer became a Partner in 2013, and was then promoted to the role of President in early 2014.

Pros of Destination Management Careers
01

Working on Entire Programs

“You get to see an entire program from beginning to end—it’s more than just a one-day or one-night event. I think that’s really fulfilling when you can work with a client for months to create an experience, see that come to life, and be the person who is solely responsible for pulling it together. There’s a lot of job satisfaction that comes from watching a program come to life and seeing it be successful.”

02

Client Relationship

“You get to experience lots of different types of clients throughout the year. Some of them you create amazing—almost life-long—bonds with, because you’re working with them year after year. You get to know each other’s families and it becomes a very personal connection, which I think is really quite unique to this type of work.”

03

Working Independently

“I think if you’re someone who enjoys working independently, being a program manager is a good option because you work one-on-one with your client. Of course you’re doing that within the scope of the company’s expectations, but program managers really are self-managed, or, if anything, they’re managed by the client and their needs and expectations.”

04

Unique Experiences

“You also get to experience really unique things, like when you’re onsite at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and you get to be out on the flight line and meet the commanding officer of the base.

You often get to meet interesting people and interact with high-level executives. As a program manager, you just get to experience lots of out of the ordinary things—and most people, on any given day, don’t get to have that kind of excitement and opportunity with their jobs.

You might get to hire a Top-40 band or a legendary performer. For example, we’ve worked with Tony Bennett and James Taylor, so the program manager gets to make those arrangements and be there for the dress rehearsal, which is exciting and pretty unique.

We’ve had Richard Branson as a guest speaker at an event, so the program manager got to greet his flight as it arrived at a private airfield and made sure he got from his private jet, into his transport, and onto the stage.

Not a lot of jobs can offer so many varied and unique experiences like that.”

Cons of Destination Management Careers
01

Long Anti-Social Hours

“I think one of the biggest downsides of this type of work is the imbalance in hours; there is a lot of working at evenings, nights, and weekends. We have no set hours. You might be on a program where the group is supposed to leave at 6 am and then there’s a change to that. The client will think nothing of calling the program manager at 4 am to deal with it, and you’re often working straight though the day, into the evening, and the early hours of the following morning.”

02

Demanding Clients

“Sometimes a client will bring out a staff of tour directors, so there can be maybe 15 different tour directors all assigned to different parts of the program, who are all vying for your time and asking lots of different questions—so you’re effectively servicing many different clients all at once.”

03

Pressure

“When something goes wrong on-site, you’re who everyone turns to; you have to be the one to provide the solution to anything that happens on site, which can be a lot of pressure for some people.”




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