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Event Managers are some of the busiest people on the planet. Their responsibilities include much more than just booking speakers. They need to deliver on time and on budget and deliver inspiration, education, and motivation to their audiences. 

We recently surveyed hundreds of experienced event managers to gain a glimpse into their process around booking speakers. The key findings are highlighted below.

The audience surveyed were in the following sectors:

Event Managers by Sector

1. The time frame to book speakers has shortened.

This is a trend that might have started with virtual events, but now that hybrid and in-person events are being planned for 2022, the overall timing from initial speaker research to event itself seems to now be two to four months for both in-person and virtual speakers.

When do you start looking for speakers to book for your event

Prior to the pandemic, the majority of event managers were booking speakers 4-6 months in advance. This is still a recommended time frame from our booking agents given the need to promote in-person events earlier due to travel and to ensure you can book your preferred speaker. In fact, we strongly recommend starting the booking process 6 months in advance when possible. 

2. Budget still shapes selection in booking speakers.

This won’t surprise many of you experienced planners, but budget was the top answer to the following question: What are the top 3 factors that determine how you choose your speakers?

Top factors that determine how to choose a speaker to book

What was enlightening was that after budget, topic relevance and compelling stories took the next two spots, surpassing both name recognition and celebrity appeal. These preferences directly reflect the event planner’s focus on audience engagement, which was named by over two-thirds (70.6%) of those surveyed as the most important goal of the event.

3. When choosing a speakers bureau, service matters more than price.

Working in a transaction-driven industry, price often takes the front seat when it comes to booking talent for events. The event professionals we spoke to favored the following service features over price in our survey.

Top drivers when choosing a speakers bureau to work with

Participants we surveyed cited “Easy to work with” (67%) as their top trait in a speakers bureau, followed by “Responsiveness” (57%) and then “Quality customer support” (52%) before “Talent is priced well/good value” (51%).

The talent booking industry, which historically is not known for exceptional customer service, is highly competitive. To hear that service and support are of utmost importance to event organizers is encouraging for companies like ours that focus heavily on enhancing customer experience.

This is not to say that price doesn’t matter for speaker selection – we all have budgets to work within, and as you previously saw, this is the most important factor in speaker selection. But, it does show that event professionals value exceptional service and that talent booking agencies that can deliver on this promise will thrive.

4. It’s not who they ARE, but what they SAY that matters.

One of the most insightful responses we received to our survey was that the most popular feature (92%) on a speaker’s biography was their speaking topics. This surpassed the biography, reviews, videos, and all other information.

What features are important when booking a speaker

This tells us that event professionals are primarily focused on audience engagement, and that the topic description can not only give them great insight into the expertise of the speaker but also their presentation style and the resulting impact their presentation will have on the audience.

While these results are great to hear, even better are the number of events being planned into 2022, demonstrating the resilience of our industry as a whole nearly 2 years after the pandemic emerged. Regardless of how you work, what is most important to us here at AAE Speakers is that you are able to host talent and speakers who are engaging and memorable for your audiences. That’s the best gift of all.