Charisma Pros

"The Connection to the Best!"

How to Work with a Bureau

By: Judith G. Shepherd
Founding member and Past President of IGAB

Meeting and program planners who have developed a partnership with a speakers bureau have found distinct advantages and numerous benefits in the relationship. The planner and the bureau are each experts in their respective fields of endeavor. The combined efforts of the planner and the bureau provides an enhanced program for the attendees of training conferences, special events and national conventions.

 What are some of the advantages of working with a speakers bureau? A professional bureau can save a planner time and money. Bureaus have background information and insight into the professionalism of a speaker. They are aware of the contents of the speaker's presentation. Instead of a planner spending valuable time and dollars "chasing down" a speaker only to find that a specific individual is not available or the fee required is not within budget limits, a planner can make one call to a bureau which can access the information within a short period of time.

An Established Network

Thanks to a global professional association of speakers bureaus, there is an excellent network of information available to member speakers bureaus, hence superior service to bureaus' clients. Through the use of current technology, the associations member bureaus have immediate access to thousands of professional speakers, trainers and celebrities worldwide. This is certainly a valuable resource for planners.

Develop a Working Partnership

By establishing a partnership with a bureau, a planner not only saves time and gains information, there are other benefits. Bureaus may be aware of a speaker who can fill your request, who also happens to be scheduled to be in the area at the time of your event. When it is possible to couple two separate events within the same area, the expenses for travel can be considerably lower.

Another important aspect of partnering with a bureau is evident in another area related to transportation. Any planner who has had a speaker stranded in an airport due to snow, or wind shear has suffered the trauma of finding a replacement within a short period of time. This is a set of circumstances that can bring the vast network into action when the speaker has been scheduled through a member bureau. A substitute speaker can be obtained via a few faxes and telephone calls. If a planner has scheduled a speaker directly, the same assurances may not exist. This also can be true for situations in which the speaker has a serious illness or a family emergency. The bureau partner is definitely a safety net for planners.

 When a planner contacts a speakers bureau, the bureau contact will ask specific questions designed to help determine the particular needs and objectives of the event. The more information the planner provides during the preliminary conversation with the bureau, the better the service by the bureau. The use of "guessomatics" is not the expedient way to secure the services of a professional speaker.

Speaker Selection Checklist:

* Date and time of event
* Location (country, state, city, facility)
* Estimated attendance
* Type of meeting/event
* Meeting objective
* Budget for speaker(s)
* Budget for expenses
* Previous speakers
* Have you contracted any other bureau or directly contacted a speaker
* Name of the decision maker

There are subjects listed on the checklist which may need clarification.

Special Requests

First, the area of special requests can be a point of miscommunication between planner and bureau. Speakers instruct the bureau about what they will or will not do for a specific fee. It is standard that an extra fee will be charged for audio and video taping. Other additional services require more of the speaker's time, therefore, an additional fee is usually charged. A good rule to follow is to never assume a speaker can or will agree to special requests, and if an agreement is reached, then anticipate an addtional fee.

Keep Communications Open

Why does the bureau ask if you have contacted either another bureau or speaker? Due to the vast network it becomes apparent very quickly when "yellow page" shopping occurs. For example: A planner calls three bureaus asking all three of them for the same speaker. The first bureau the planner called was the "parent" bureau of the speaker. The other two bureaus follow through and contact the speaker's "parent" bureau only to find that a tentative hold for the speaker has already been placed by the same planner. What creates even more confusion is when two or more persons are calling on behalf of the same planner. Do not risk losing the speaker you would really like to have because of a mix up or due to inaccurate preliminary information. Once a planner has developed a "partner" bureau, this type of problem is eliminated.

Fee Structures

Other questions frequently asked are, "Does it cost more to use a bureau and who pays the bureau?" Rarely is there an additional charge unless there are additional services involved. The speakers pay the bureaus for placement.

 Like Charisma Pros (CP), some bureaus have several aspects to their businesses. These bureaus are established as "full-service" companies. Entertainment and professional emcees including local, regional and national talents are available. They have highly qualified and experienced program consultants on staff. And, like CP, a few bureau owners have past experience as meeting planners and/or association managers. They have previously worked in the field of hotel sales, or have catering backgrounds. The level of understanding between the planner and the bureau is certainly enhanced when a bureau owner has a clear comprehension of the overall industry. Because of their past experiences these bureau owners not only emphasize, but they are willing to share their expertise. For example, one of my standard inquires to the client is about the color of the room in which the speaker is scheduled to appear. (A speaker in a dark brown suit will be "lost" when standing in front of a dark paneled wall. By knowing the color in the room the speaker can plan his wardrobe accordingly.)

Read the Contract

And last, however, not least - read the contractual agreement. Do not hesitate to ask questions. An industry-oriented, professional bureau will welcome the opportunity to develop a complete understanding about speaker(s), fees, travel expenses and time schedules. When you find a bureau that has an understanding of your organization's needs and gives you the quality of service you prefer, you have probably found the right "partner."

All contents Copyright © 2006 by Charisma Pros unless otherwise specified. This information is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, or non-infringement. This information could include inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes may be periodically added to the information herein.

Contact: Charisma Pros, a division of ARREC

 1547 N State Street #197 * Greenfield, IN 46140 USA * +1-317-604-1649

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