We have spent a good portion of the last few years really understanding what we do and the value we bring. I should clarify when I say we, I am referring to both Speakers Corner and the speakers we book for clients. I have a couple of blog pieces to post, the first one here related to what Speakers Corner does and the next will be about our views on what the speakers bring.
The term bureau does a disservice to what we aim to deliver to our clients. For many years, we felt, as many people in and outside the industry still feel is that the bureau is a booking service and that our value is in knowing people. However, we always felt slightly disillusioned about this as this was not what we felt our value was and so we spent time to understand what we did.
This is how we feel; we are a speaker consulting service (I appreciate all the connotations of the term consulting but hear me out and I’m quite happy to use another turn of phrase!). Our value is our impartiality towards the speakers and our desire to understand what the client is looking to achieve from their conference or event. By understanding this, we can then suggest the right speakers, hosts, facilitators, comedians, entertainment etc to help deliver the aims. Our account management team has no incentive to favour one speaker above another when speaking to a client apart from the aim to help the client deliver a great event, ensure they enjoy the experience of working with Speakers Corner and hopefully use us again in the future.
This is then supported by the further ‘consultancy’ services of securing the services of the speaker (which usually involves some negotiation) and contracting them up. In this instance, again there are service levels which are delivered as this often relies on our relationship with the speakers and our reputation in the industry to ensure both parties (client and artist) trust that Speakers Corner will deliver what both parties need in order to ensure a happy outcome for everyone. This work on our relationship with speakers is ongoing and requires constant attention, we thrive on our relationships and hopefully that the speakers enjoy working with us as much as we enjoy working with them.
Lastly we have a dedicated logistics team who offer the services that the speaker is fully briefed about the event, any marketing and PR is handled satisfactorily for both parties, the speaker is at the event at the right time and as much as we can influence, in the right mood! Finally, they offer that point of contact for the client all the way up to and beyond the event which means we do everything we can to make sure the clients’ needs and requirements are met with minimum fuss from their perspective.
All of these different services are delivered with great commitment and effort by our team, the great downfall of the industry when talking about this subject is that this is all wrapped up in the fee charged for the artiste which includes an element of commission for our services. As this is a one off fee, it is highly understandable when a client views us as a booking service and considers the marketplace as being driven as a low cost marketplace. One of the most depressing areas for the team is that when a lot of effort is spent to understand a client’s brief and make some great suggestions but then we get a call to say ‘we know you recommended ArtisteX but can you lower the fee as we have rung round other people and they have said they will be able to secure for cheaper.’
There are so many areas of this which are wrong and delivering false information to the client but the primary part for me is that lack of understanding over the services offered by the bureau. Just to be clear this is a fault of the industry as a whole, we have not spent time nor effort to educate about what bureaus do and we need to get better at it. As an aside, this is one of the key drivers behind the formation of the European Association of Speaker Bureau which we are proud to be founder members of alongside a number of other bureaus. I have the dubious honour of acting as Chairman of the Association and we are working hard to start actively positively promoting the industry but I will write about the EASB in a future blog so will stop now on this.
I suppose my thoughts are we must shout louder and clearer about what we do and why we do it and how we help our customers so we can continue to add value to their conference and also, as importantly, help the customer achieve more and take some of the workload from them through the help we can deliver around the speaker section of their event.