Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Meeting Planners Tip Sheet: Hiring & Paying Professional Speakers

Here’s the final in a series of five quick tip sheets for meeting and event professionals regarding food and beverage, site selections and handling professional speakers. It’s also a great resource sheet for those who must handle meeting logistics for their organization’s meetings and need some insight.
Sometimes hiring and securing a professional speaker can feel like navigating a maze.

New jargon, terms, conditions and clauses can be confusing, especially if you only secure speakers once or twice a year.

Dealing with a speaker’s bureau or agent can feel daunting. Few meeting professionals know that it is perfectly acceptable to negotiate.

Here is a tip sheet to help you with understanding the basics of speaker fees.

Free Speaking For Exposure To The Audience

Many organizations pitch to the speaker bureau or speaker “Our audience is perfect for you as they hire many professional speakers. Most of the speakers that have spoken at our conference get spin-off business from our attendees.”
Do the professional speakers at your event really get paid spin-off business?  Do you have documentation to share with the potential speaker to prove it?
Some organizations feel that because their event is a cause, the speaker would surely want to donate their time and services. The pitch in this case is emotional, trying to move the heartstrings of the potential speaker or entertainer.

It’s time for organizations to stop trying to secure free professional speakers and start budgeting for good audience experiences. 

The Speaker’s Investment in Time, Knowledge And Experience

Here is a general rule of thumb when considering how many hours it takes a speaker to prepare a presentation. For new presentations: every one hour of presentation requires a minimum of eight hours of preparation. For topics presented before, one hour of presentation requires three hours of preparation. Webinars typically require double the amount of preparation as speakers will double the number of visuals they will use.  

So how much should you pay speakers? How much should you budget to cover speaker fees?
1. Industry Speakers With Free Registration.

Identify the hard costs per person to attend your event. Calculate that amount per industry speaker that receives free registration and include it in your budget. Consider travel, lodging and expenses too.

2. Industry Speakers Known As Experts & Average Presenters

Industry insiders that are considered experts and have presentations that are rough around the edges receive from $250 to $1,000 per day. This is appropriate for people with solid content and average presentation skills. Some organizations offer a stipend to offset expenses including travel and lodging.
3. Industry Speakers Known As Experts & Great Presenters

These industry people are known as specialists and experts, who have strong messages, a well-known name in the community, excellent and fresh content, and fantastic presentation skills. They typically receive from $1,000 to $4,000 a day.

4. Rising Professional Speakers

These people make a living as facilitators, presenters and trainers. They have enough demand that they can charge a higher fee. They usually represent the best new and veteran professional speakers in their field. They often receive from $4,000 to $10,000 a day.

5. Specialty Professional Speakers on the Verge of Marquee Status

These professional speakers have a specialty niche area or some type of new fame. They may have published several books. These speakers often receive from $10,000-$25,000 a day.
6. Marquee Names

These people are considered superstars. They are household names with some type of fame. They are not typically known for their speaking ability. Actually some of them have poor to average presentation skills but their celebrity status eclipses their inability to present. On the other hand, some of them are fantastic presenters. These speakers (examples include athletes, ex-presidents, Bill Gates, Anthony Robbins, Barbara Walters, etc.) receive from $25,000 to $300,000 to present.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Meeting Planners Tip Sheet: Steps To Successful Site Selection

Here’s the fourth in a series of five quick tip sheets for meeting and event professionals regarding food and beverage, site selections and handling professional speakers. It’s also a great resource sheet for those who must handle meeting logistics for their organization’s meetings and need some insight.

While a journey is a road, not a destination, most meetings are about the destination not the road. Choosing the right destination is critical to a meetings’ success.

Effective event and meeting professionals focus on two key factors in the site selection process:
·   Foretelling an organization’s meeting and/or event requirements
·   Evaluating a potential site’s ability to meet those requirements

The needs of an event must be identified first and then aligned with sites that can properly accommodate them. Here are several steps to a successful site selection.

1.   Identify the meeting objectives

What is the purpose of the meeting or event? Is it to deliver education? To discuss business? To provide an exhibition of products and services? To network? Most meetings serve several purposes.

2.   Gather historical data.

Collect past records of this meeting including attendance, amount of meeting and exhibit space used, financials, food and beverage requirements, room block pick-up and schedules. A review and comparison of the past three years of history serves best. If it is a first-time meeting, assemble historical data from similar meetings you conduct. Customer surveys may serve you better than historical data.

3.   Establish the physical requirements

The meeting format and objectives will dictate most of the physical requirements.

4.   Date of meeting

What are the preferred dates for the meeting? Are those dates flexible? What is the preferred day pattern? What ethnic, federal, religious and state holidays should be avoided? What other conferences or meeting dates should be avoided? Are there any seasonal or peak times that should be avoided?

5.   Attendance

What is anticipated attendance? What internal or external factors could impact attendance?

6.   Sleeping Rooms

What is the total number of sleeping rooms needed? What is the typical arrival and departure pattern? What is the number of sleeping rooms for the peak night? Do you need double beds or any special accommodations like suites? How will reservations be made with the hotel(s)? What has been the average room rate? Are room rates commissioned to a group or third party? Are rebates or housing fees included in the rate?

7.   Meeting space

What is the total square footage of meeting space needed for your event? How many meeting rooms are required on a daily basis? How many are needed simultaneously on a daily basis? Are additional meeting rooms needed for breakout groups? How are the rooms traditionally set up? What are the AV requirements? Do you need a minimum ceiling height to accommodate AV? Do you need time for set-up or tear down? Does the meeting space need Internet access or Wi-Fi? Do the rooms need to be in close proximity to each other?

a.    Food and beverage events

·      How many food and beverage events are held? What types: breaks, breakfasts, lunch, dinner, receptions? What is the estimated attendance at each? What price range do you have for each food and beverage event?

b.    Exhibits

·      Will the meeting have a tradeshow? What is the square footage required for the exhibit hall? Do you need column free space? How close are the loading docks? What utilities do your exhibitors require? Are the facility’s workers union employees? How much time do you need for set-up or tear down?

c.    Registration and Offices

·      What is the square footage needed for registration? Is the designated area in a high-traffic space or away from the general public? Do you need nearby office space? Are adequate utilities available? What additional services such as local entertainment option, restaurant reservations, tours, etc., are needed in the registration area? Do you need this space early for set-up?

d.   Special needs

·      What special needs does the meeting have such as people with disabilities? Are there any potential language barriers? Does the facility have ample space for loading and unloading buses? 

8.  Select a destination city and facility type

Many organizations establish a rotational pattern for future meeting sites, moving from one region to another. Consider travel convenience and cost for the maximum number of potential attendees. Then investigate major airline availability, total number of seats, etc. Once a general area is identified, determine the type of facility: airport hotel, conference center, convention center, downtown, resort or suburban?

a.   Prepare a meeting request for proposal (RFP)

·      There are numerous options to release RFPs to CVBs, hotel chains and multiple sites. Hotels are most aggressive when they know that they are one of a handful of hotels being considered.

b.   Review and evaluate sites

·      Site inspections are invaluable to judge the appropriateness and condition of the property. For larger programs, CVB’s and hotels may be willing to pick up your air after confirmation. Online features allow for virtual site inspections as well.

c.     Select site

·      Site Selection Success

Each of these steps plays a key role in selecting a meeting site. How well the meetings needs are aligned with the facility will determine the success of the meeting.


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