Dawn Donahue is a Certified Culinary Travel Professional, a Certified Golf Tournament Planner, a Hospitality Consultant and an Educator. She credits Marty Zlotnik, one of the key organizers of the Air Canada Championship, for growing her business, and for helping consolidate her reputation as Canada’s golf tournament guru.
Notwithstanding its name, Go Golf Conference and Events Management (GGEM) does more than just produce golf events for its on shore and off shore clients. For more than three decades now, Donahue and the GGEM team has produced conferences, meetings, special events and sporting events for a wide variety of corporations, associations, charities and not - for - profits. GGEM recently added a travel division to assist with clients’ incentive travel needs.
It’s surprising how many organizations believe that the executive assistant
and the social committee will only be required to spend a couple of hours a week to plan and produce a successful event. This is both incorrect and short sighted.
According to Donahue, a professional producer like GGEM will spend 600 - 1000 dedicated staff hours to conceive, develop and produce a successful event.
“Many charities are now hiring an event producer like us to support corporations’ third party events. This is to counter staff and committee fatigue and the drain on human resources,” she says.
Hiring a professional event producer brings clients the benefit of industry experience and established supplier and sponsor relationships. Even the savviest clients may not know what they don’t know, and can easily overlook important details like lighting and AV. This lack of experience can inadvertently damage the event experience. According to Ted Carlson, CEO, Mainland Sand and Gravel (retired), “If you want it done right, on time, and on budget, call Dawn Donahue. She is a leader, a decision maker, and…she produces results.”
Donahue’s commitment to going above
and beyond what’s required or billed for, and to staying on top of the hundreds of details involved in conceiving, developing and producing special events that are in fact special, are two characteristics that set GGEM apart.
Moreover, because the scope of work is both clearly identified and costed, there are no surprises when it’s time to pay the final invoice “We do what we said we are going to do, when we said we are going to do it. Our business has been built on referrals. We’ve never advertised, marketed or promoted our services. That is because we only have one focus - delighting our clients and surpassing their expectations,” Donahue says.
According to Jennifer Mamone, CA, BCLP, a repeat client, “Working with Dawn Donahue and the Go Golf team is simply turn key. In five years, there has never been a request too large or a detail too small that hasn’t been delivered beyond expectation. At the very least, Dawn’s knowledge of the service industry, coupled with her catalog of hospitality partners is an exclusive combination found nowhere else. Her drive towards customer satisfaction is limitless…"
In her role as producer, Donahue touches every aspect of the event from business planning, fundraising and identifying opportunities to increase revenues and decrease expenses, to managing the budget and developing and supporting sponsors. Her work includes ensuring sponsors have a measurable Return on Investment, donors feel welcomed and thanked, volunteers feel involved and appreciated and the community is given an opportunity to participate. Christine Coletta, a client and Owner of Okanagan Crush Pad Winery Ltd. says, “Dawn Donahue gets things done at a standard that is seriously impressive…She knows how to connect the dots between sponsorship, marketing and logistics to create magical, seamless results."
Since Donahue and her team deal with all of the practical and political aspects of keeping a project running smoothly, the Chair and the rest of the committee are free to concentrate on the business of the event: sponsor identification and benefits, fundraising, business development and goals of the event. “We are passionately committed to our clients’ success and we see ourselves as partners, not just as contractors. Because we are focused on their long-term success, we can help them clearly articulate their goals. We also assist in developing 3 - 5 year business plans, and succession plans for committee members. Plus, we work when our clients need us to work –weekends, evenings, whatever it takes,” Donahue says.
Consulting services represent about 25% of the company’s revenues. All events are about the experience. Making the event unique, and keeping it fresh and memorable guarantees success. For new clients, GGEM does not charge for the first five hours of consulting. Donahue meets with the committee, listens to the successes and challenges, and reviews the committee’s goals and the historicals. Even the event budget is scrutinized. ”During this complimentary service, we get a feel if the relationship between the client, the committee members and our company would be a good fit. Event production is very stressful and time consuming. People need to work well together to create a successful environment,” Donahue says.
Many charities and associations also invite Dawn Donahue to speak to their staff and committees on topics like charitable fundraising, client appreciation, how to add value to programs, sponsor development and benefits, volunteer improvement and programs, and the business of events. “I truly enjoy sharing our expertise and knowledge, and to providing actionable takeaways,” Donahue says.
Her passion with producing events began when she was a university student and created weekend exchange retreats with other universities, incentive travel programs (ski and golf outings), and community cooking classes for students who could not go home for holidays. She produced her first golf tournament and culinary event in 1981. “We successfully transformed that event from a golf outing to a golf and culinary event. We involved suppliers and added networking and business development opportunities for the attendees. This was extremely innovative for the eighties,” Donahue says.
In the mid nineties Donahue volunteered with the PGA tour stop in Vancouver, the Air Canada Championship. Donahue was Chair of the Canal Course Charity Tournaments. She managed all eleven tournaments, and fully produced two of them, over the six days. Being responsible for eleven events and working with nine committees helped her pull off what some described as a logistical miracle.
Dawn Donahue is a founding sponsor of the BC Hospitality Foundation and Chairs the Scholarship committee (BCHF is a charity that supports hospitality workers facing financial crisis due to a health issue, and offers scholarship programs to foster the development of the hospitality workers of tomorrow). She is also a past board member for the BC Sports Hall of Fame and the Zajac Ranch Society.
She currently sits on the Board of Advisers for both the Golf Tournament Association of America and The Golf Tournament Association of Canada and is actively involved with Meeting Planners International, Professional Convention Management Association, and various charities that raise funds for autism spectrum disorder, cancer research and clinical trials, and depression research. In her spare time, Donahue mentors various young professionals and university students in meaningful work experiences and professional development.
Dawn Donahue has been married to Jim Kennedy for 28 years. She is blessed with stepsons Daren and Rich, and their wives Stephanie and Anick. The rest of her close-knit family includes four wonderful siblings (one brother, three sisters), two amazing nieces and two incredible nephews. She describes her 85-year- old Mom as inspirational in her strength, kind spirit, and determination. Dawn and Jim are cat people; the last few have been rescued Maine Coons.
Suzen Fromstein is the author of Suits and Ladders, Ten Proven Ways to Keep Your Job Safe - with a few jokes thrown in. Suits and Ladders was an Amazon Best Selling Book in the Career Guides Category