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While the internet devastated the travel agency business and is now hurting retail, it is helping the speakers bureaus.
May 28th, 2015

While the internet devastated the travel agency business and is now hurting retail, it is helping the speakers bureaus.

Apparently, too much choice is causing event planners to turn to the bureaus for guidance, according to this excerpt from a report on the speaking industry prepared by the National Speakers Association in the United States.

Use of speakers bureaus on the rise

Meeting and event professionals are increasingly relying on the services of speakers bureaus to identify qualified speakers. Professional speakers, meeting and event professionals, and speakers bureaus themselves all agree that the market has gained many new and “unproven” speakers in the past two years. Referred to as “quasi-speakers”, “want-to-be’s”, and “so-called speakers”, these new entrants into the speaking profession are not necessarily unqualified for the job; but they are, by and large, considered to be untested, relatively inexperienced in professional speaking, and willing to take low-paying engagements in order to gain experience and reputation.

Additionally, many meeting and event professionals have not had a great deal of experience with professional speakers over the past five years, as budgets have been trimmed, budget controls have been tight, and meeting and event owners have been willing to use in-house and industry professionals as presenters, leaders, and keynoters. The growing need to identify valuable, relevant and trustworthy speakers represents a real challenge to many of these planners.

The emergence of new and relatively untested speakers, combined with the relative lack of relationships among many meeting and event professionals with professional speakers results in a greater dependence upon speakers bureaus. Many professional meeting and event planners openly state that they do not have long term relationships or past personal experience with professional speakers, therefore must rely upon the professional services of a speakers bureau to identify qualified speakers with sound reputations for performance and competitive pricing.

Anecdotally, professional meeting and event planners indicate a certain lack of trust in the exclusive use of on-line content to identify and vet speakers. They note that it is too easy to embellish on-line content; so they turn to bureaus for guidance. At the same time, while many speakers strongly prefer to market themselves and use the power of referrals, word-of-mouth, and existing clients to get more business, they acquiesce to a growing influence of speakers bureaus on their booking volume.

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