Last month, FICP speakers bureau and entertainment partners shared some of their favorite speakers and performers. We also asked them how meetings professional can maximize their partnerships with a bureau/agency. Common themes include asking for recommendations early in your planning process, communicating on event goals and themes, and including everything from prep call requests to book signings to meet-and-greet appearances in the initial offer letter or contract. Read on for more tips to collaborate for success.
“Work with your bureau representative to craft an offer letter that covers all of the bases up front to minimize surprises during contracting and through event day. Ask your rep what possible value-added requests you might include at the offer stage (that the speaker/entertainer might not agree to once the contract is issued), and remember that the answer may vary based on the particular talent. So work with someone who has experience and speaker knowledge.”
Lisa Warren, Partner, Sr. Account Executive, SpeakInc Speakers Bureau
“Get an early jump on entertainment booking. Reach out as far out in advance from the event as reasonably possible. Depending on your budget for entertainment, there will be a limited number of truly strong options that might be right for your attendees. The sooner you can narrow it down to a very short list of artists to target for a program, the better your chances will be that your top choice(s) will still be available. The contracting process can take a significant amount of time, as can advancing the performer's rider requirements.”
Adam Kahan, SVP, Empire Entertainment, Inc.
“Meetings professionals need to understand that any of their speaker resources can book any and all speakers of interest to them. We all have the go-to sources in our immense databases, and whether a speaker is exclusive with another agency or she represents herself, all agencies work within a competitive pricing scheme. For example, in the case of the USA Women's World Cup Team, five stars are represented by five different agencies – but your speaker resource will have done all the legwork for you to make your search that much easier.”
Marc Reede, Partner, Rave Reviews, Speakers
“The most important component is communication. I know that sounds obvious but knowing as many details as possible helps both the hospitality partner and the meetings professional get the best results. I have found that a five-minute phone conversation is more effective than several e-mails exchanging creative ideas, as well as delivering the basic facts. We don’t realize how much more time we spend typing e-mails than speaking those same sentences.”
Leonard Neil, President, Leonard Neil Productions, LLC
“A conference call with the speaker needs be arranged closer to the meeting date so expectations are fresh and clear in the speaker’s mind, better enabling him/her to tailor the presentation to the client’s particular audience. It's helpful that the client complete a pre-program questionnaire so the speaker can review the particulars before the conference call discussion.”
Esther Eagles, Co-Founder, Eagles Talent Speakers Bureau Inc.
“We believe the best outcome relies heavily on the very beginning of the process. The best help we, or any bureau, can be, starts with having all of the meeting information as early as possible. People talk about innovation, change management, culture, leadership or other topics; however, those can mean different things to different people or organizations. Finding out as much as possible about the meeting objective, the attendees, the messaging that leadership is hoping to communicate really helps us to source the best options.”
Jenna Jorge, President, Goodman Speakers
"Pick your agent first, then your talent. A good agent will be your advocate throughout the process, regardless of the speaker you select. You want someone in your corner. Generally, the cost of the speaker will stay constant regardless of the agent you choose to work with."
Alec Melman, Founding Partner, Gotham Artists
“Be sure to share event location, as that is a great opportunity to save on travel costs. It’s also incredibly helpful to know what speakers have been well-received (and not so well-received) by the particular group when collaborating on ideas.”
Kristin Downey, CMP, Senior Vice President, Washington Speakers Bureau
“My number-one tip to help make working with bureaus/talent a smoother process is view it as a collaboration/partnership process. The more that meetings professionals share, the more bureaus can recommend choices for the right fit. Can you imagine if a wedding planner was only told the budget, the date, and the location – and then told to go forth to create the most beautiful wedding (without consulting the future bride-to-be about favorite colors, themes, or what they definitely don't want!)? This can happen quite often in the bureau world. The more insight on the kind of impact a meetings professional (or end client) wants for the event, the better. A lot can be gained from a phone/video conference call with the committee members to get a collective understanding of the needs of the event.”
Sheldon Senek, President, Eagles Talent Speakers Bureau Inc.
“The sooner you start looking for a speaker, the easier it’s going to be on you and your team. Just because a speaker might have an open speaking date three months before the event might not matter if they logistically cannot get to your location. By selecting a speaker earlier, you now have contractual priority for that speaker’s calendar. I strongly suggest after you have your event debrief, you start looking for your speaker for the next year. The pros and cons of the last speaker are fresh in your mind and you have recently heard back on what your team and leadership liked or didn’t like. You might not know your theme yet entirely, but usually you’ll know the overall purpose for next year’s event. We want you to make the best decision for your team. That starts with having as many options as possible to choose from.”
Andrew Gibbons, Vice President, Leading Authorities, Inc.
“Great events are built upon great communication. You can never provide too much information about your audience, strategic goals and messaging, budget, expectations, past obstacles or particular requirements. A bureau will use that information to not only match you with the perfect speaker, but see to it that every detail from start to finish is covered to ensure a seamless experience and successful event.”
Elizabeth Guest, Marketing Coordinator, American Program Bureau, Inc.