Special Events

Dianne Devitt Has the Last Word

Don't think of Dianne Devitt, CMP, as a meeting and event planner-think of her as a general contractor. That's how she describes herself.

"It's a new concept," explains Devitt, owner of DND Events & Meeting Management of Paoli, Pa. "I qualify my clients' needs and objectives and act as a resource, directing them to suppliers." Acting as a liaison between client and provider, Devitt is "building an informal alliance" of resources, from puppeteers to production services. "I have a partnership with a variety of suppliers. My guarantee to my client is that these people are good; there are no risks involved." By outsourcing virtually every aspect of an event, Devitt can keep her own staff small-"DND is just me and my assistant," she says.

Devitt formed DND (the initials stand for Dianne and Neil Devitt, her husband) after losing her corporate job last year. "I was director of sales for Safari Events' New York office when PGI acquired us in 1995." Within three years, the company had downsized and laid off staff. "At that point, I felt it was time to get out of the corporate work world." Devitt concluded that her strength lies in offering an objective view to clients and managing creative elements of events and meetings. "I just wanted to do what I love to do-applying creativity to all aspects" of event and meeting design. As two of her strongest assets, she names her knack for turning "the intangible into the tangible" and her sense of humor.

Professional dedication is another defining aspect of Devitt's outgoing personality-she goes out of her way to share her experience with the new generation of event specialists. This year, she is teaching an event management course at New York University. Besides lecturing on the benefits of outsourcing, Devitt sometimes whips out a nickel in class to illustrate a rule-of-thumb she calls the "5 Cent Rule." "There are five cents in a nickel and there are five senses in us. And each sense must be stimulated at an event-no matter what the budget," she explains.

What does Devitt see for the future of the industry? "We're business strategists. That's the direction the true professional event producer will be going."

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