These guidelines were developed by a task force of six NSA member speakers and four NSA member bureaus who saw the need to communicate today's generally accepted guidelines for doing business. These guidelines are not rules and parties are not obligated to operate by these guidelines.
Please note that speakers and bureaus have their own procedures, which may differ from these guidelines. Please communicate your differences to your bureau or speaker in order to eliminate misunderstandings--of course all details should be covered in your written agreements.
The following are suggested ways for speakers and bureaus to work more effectively together.
What is a speakers bureau?
A speakers bureau works with their clients to arrange the appropriate speakers to fulfill their customers' goals, to help identify training and meeting objectives, and help design custom meetings.
What are ethical practices?
Both speakers and bureaus need to adhere to the highest standards of ethics and integrity. Speakers and bureaus also need to work to build relationships based upon trust and honesty.
How do speakers know a bureau is reputable?
It is highly recommended a speaker check out a potential bureau through references obtained by other speakers and bureaus.
How are speakers bureaus compensated?
The speakers bureau earns a commission based on a percentage of the speaker's professional fee. It is a standard practice that speakers' fees quoted by the bureau should be the same as the fees quoted by the speakers.
What is the procedure for handling speaker's expenses?
The speaker and bureau decide who will bill the client for expenses. It is the speaker's responsibility to tell the bureau if they require first class air or coach. Expenses should be kept at a reasonable level, i.e., airfare or mileage, lodging, meals, ground transportation, or whatever additional expenses were agreed upon by bureau, client and speaker and written into the contract prior to the engagement. Charges for laundry, personal long distance phone calls, shoe shines, massages and golf fees are not acceptable expenses.
What is a hold?
A hold is a reservation placed for a speaker's time on a specific date. A hold implies serious interest by the client in utilizing the speaker's services. An inquiry is an expression of interest by the client for a speaker's date availability. An inquiry blinds neither the speaker nor the bureau to further communication on that engagement. Holds need to be taken in the order received by the speaker's office and honored in that order, whether from a bureau or directly from a speaker's client.
When a bureau calls a speaker to contract/confirm a held date, the preferred practice is for the speaker to immediately contact any prior holds placed on that date. Any conflicting prior holds have 24 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) to respond back to the bureau either identifying an acceptance of the date or identifying the date is not available to the bureau. The accepted industry standard for bureaus is to release holds within 72 hours of hearing from a client. It is the recommended industry practice that the bureau informs the speaker at the time the date is put on hold as to the name of the client and location of the meeting. It is a win/win situation, for it allows the speaker to give the bureau additional reasons why they are the right choice for the client, and allows the speaker to protect their relationship by being able to honor the bureau's right to that client's business.
What does the speaker do when multiple bureaus place a hold on the speaker's calendar for the same client on the same day?
The speaker should make all of the bureaus involved aware that they are all requesting a hold on the same day from the same client. The client is the ultimate decision-maker as to which bureau they wish to work through. A commission is due only to the bureau that is able to secure the confirmed engagement from the client.
What is the relationship between speakers and bureaus on product?
Product is considered non-commissionable unless a specific agreement between bureau and speaker exits. If a commission is charged, it is generally done on pre-sale and onsite sales, but no commission on post sales after the speaker has left the meeting location.
What is a spin-off?
A spin-off engagement is an additional speaking engagement that is generated as a result of the speaker's appearance at a bureau-booked date. This includes any person that the speaker meets: at the engagement, or by word of mouth from anyone who was at the engagement. The suggested industry practice is to limit spin-off responsibilities to three years from the last speaking engagement booked by that bureau as a result of the original engagement. The speaker should use best efforts to determine where the lead has come from.
Who handles the paperwork on spin-off dates?
The speakers bureau originating the booking handles the paperwork.
How long is a specific client contract considered a bureau client for the sake of repeat business with that same client?
Repeat business is additional business booked by the same client contact for the same or similar audience. The length of the repeat business is determined by the client's desire to continue working with the bureau.
Are consulting assignments generated as a result of a speaking engagement subject to the same criteria as a speaking engagement?
Because of the intensity of the consulting relationship, and the additional cost involved and time expenditure, the commissions on consulting agreements are subject to negotiation between the speaker and the bureau.
Should a speaker pay a fee for a bureau to list them as one of their represented speakers?
The fee is in addition to commissions and does not mean that the speaker is listed on an exclusive basis. It is standard practice NOT to pay a fee.
Is it acceptable to pay a fee to be represented in a speakers bureau catalogue?
For a standard listing in a bureau's catalogue, it is standard practice that the speaker NOT pay a fee. The speaker and bureau may wish to work together on special listings, special projects, and shared marketing campaigns as part of their ongoing relationship in which expenses are shared by the bureau and the speaker.
Who should send the speaker's materials to the bureau's clients?
It is the bureau's and the speaker's responsibility to keep the bureau supplied with standard marketing materials. It is standard practice for the bureau to send out the speaker's marketing material directly from the bureau office.
How does the speaker ensure that the leads provided to the bureau receive the proper follow up?
It is ethical practice for the speaker to turn over to the bureau all leads generated as a result of an engagement booked by that bureau. It is incumbent that the bureau follow up on those leads for that speaker within 14 days. If the bureau does not follow-up on the leads in 14 days, the speaker has the option to pursue those leads. The previously stated policy on spin-offs will still apply.
Should the speaker be allowed direct contact with the client prior to, during and after the engagement?
Yes, this business is based on trust! If speakers and bureaus can't trust one another then they shouldn't work together.
What documentation does the bureau supply to the speaker?
The speaker has the right to request a copy of the contract that is sent to the client, including the fee quoted to the client. The speaker should receive from the bureau a confirmation of the date and all particulars of the engagement.
What's the difference between non-exclusive and exclusive representation?
An exclusive relationship means all the dates are booked through the bureau--even direct calls. There are other types of exclusives: One example is where the speaker has the right to take direct engagements under defined circumstances. These arrangements are negotiated between the bureau and the speaker on an individual basis. The bureau manages the business side of the speaker's business. Non-exclusive representation means the speaker can book himself/herself, and the speaker can choose to work with many bureaus. Please note that bureaus also choose who they want to work with since they cannot represent everyone.
Thinking About The Speaker/Bureau Relationship?
- The speaking profession is all about relationships: business partnerships are the key to success.
- Other than moral and ethical considerations, there is no right or wrong way of doing business.
- Bureaus and speakers both have the choice of who to work with and who not to work with.
- Respect the decision of the speaker and the bureau in that regard.
- Speakers and bureaus have the responsibility to understand each other's business practices and objectives.
- Partnering beats policy every time