Last week, we discussed the 2016 IASB Annual Convention in Cancun and the impact this meeting has on the professional speaking industry. The Speaker Experts did not attend the conference, but understand in talking to those that did (along with reading follow-up social media posts) that one of the most important sessions of the meeting was a “Burning Issues” discussion, hosted by industry titans Tony D’Amelio of the D’Amelio Network and Rich Gibbons of the prestigious West Coast speaker bureau SpeakInc.

We apologize in advance to our readers outside of the speaker bureau industry, as the post will get into the tall grass of the speaker bureau business, but we promise that the conclusion will have relevance to all who schedule professional and celebrity speakers.

The “Burning Issues” Session covered the topic of “co-brokering” between bureaus and things that “annoy, aggravate and anger.” A quick peek at our controversial post “The Four Myths of the Speaker Bureau Co-Broker” will give readers some insight into the practice of co-brokering and its implications for those who “book” speakers. Tony and Rich presented five scenarios to spur conversation, create dialogue, and enable the attendees to walk out better equipped to handle such situations when they arise in the future.

Co-brokered speaker bureau contracts can be complex transactions often presenting a unique and challenging set of circumstances. There is often no “black and white” answer, and a group of lecture agents could spend hours discussing each of the scenarios offered by Tony and Rich. With that said, we feel that no matter how complex the situation, the ultimate answer can be found by relying on our three rules for positive co-broker outcomes.

Rules

Let’s apply these rules to the scenarios suggested by Rich and Tony.


SCENARIO #1



♦ You’re working direct with a client. They have a “hold” on one of your exclusive speakers. Out of the blue, another bureau comes to you with a firm offer for the same event. It’s for the full fee.What’s the right way to handle?

Solution:  While in most cases we believe it is not in the client’s best interest to take this course of action (please refer to our The Four Myths of the Speaker Bureau Co-Broker post), the client has decided otherwise and, since this is America, the right way to handle this is to respect the client wishes and “co-broker” the speaker (please refer to Rule #1).


SCENARIO #2

♦ A client changes the timetable after the contract is signed. The time change means the itinerary the speaker had counted on does not work and impairs the speaker’s ability to get to their next event. The event date is just days away. What’s the right way to handle?  

Solution:  A contractual communication error was made by someone in this scenario. It may have been made by the customer, co-brokering bureau, or bureau representing the speaker, but an error was made. If the co-brokering bureau has a strong relationship with the customer and the “selling” bureau, there are any number of solutions that can solve the problem. If a solution can’t be found, then sadly this is one of those scenarios that falls under the 5% in Rule #3. Money is going to have to exchange hands in the form of a private jet charter, a cancellation fee, or other fiduciary solution.


SCENARIO #3

♦ A speaker (or manager/agent) discovers that the booking bureau is not only taking a commission, but is also marking up the fee by $1,000. Is this an ethical violation? If so, what do you do about it?

Solution:  You bet this is an ethical violation. If the contract had already been signed, we would have little choice but to complete the transaction, but Rule #2 would apply here. This bureau/person can’t be trusted and therefore we would not work with them in the future.


 

Next week, we will cover the remaining two scenarios and, more importantly, move the discussion back to the role an industry panel can play in creating educational content, excitement, discussion, and revenue at your Association Annual Meeting.

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

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