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Keynote Speaker: What You Need To Know About The Tourism Academy Speakers Bureau

Finding and booking the right keynote speaker who will inspire and motivate your tourism & hospitality audience is no easy task. Even if you are fortunate enough to find an ideal speaker that meets your criteria, you still have to negotiate the innovative keynote speaker's fees, draw-up contracts, and figure out travel arrangements. Here are details you need to know about a Speakers Bureau and how they work.

Tourism-academy-collaborate-teach-promote-advertise-certifyThere is a possibility the motivational speaker won’t meet your expectations because they don’t exactly speak well, aren’t familiar with your objectives, or are difficult to work with. What I’m conveying here is: some keynote speakers actually believe themselves to be – well – Beyonce. Keep in mind, you know the type of person your organization expects you to provide. And, you are working with a keynote speaker, after all.
When I give a keynote, the organizers come and enthusiastically ask about my favorite Speakers Bureau. Who do my other speaker friends like? I’ll be honest, it’s hit or miss and I don’t advertise any here at
Organizers immediately jump to people, instructors or bureau’s on The Tourism Academy's site, when in reality -- I love dealing directly with an organizer to create a close relationship. However, I really understand the value of a Speakers Bureau and think they are sometimes a good fit for an organization to hire. Especially for organizations looking for speakers who know and understand the tourism & hospitality industry. 

Hesitant about working with a Speakers Bureau? Here are five benefits that will catapult you into their competent hands to start working with them today.

An obvious point for both speakers and the organizer is that Speakers Bureaus have become pretty amazing at handling logistics. Relations between you, the speaker, fees, transport, accommodations, timing, and communication – they rock this space.

  • They have expertise. Bureaus aren’t just going to connect you with a celebrity. They ’ll pair you with a talented, likable, engaging, and articulate speaker to deliver influential keynote speeches. This speaker will be capable of resonating with your specific audience needs.

    These business speakers are fully vetted. You can rest assured your speaker will deliver a powerful and memorable keynote. The bureau knows if someone is cooperative and they’ll steer you to shy away from risky or unpleasant characters. 

  • They provide risk mitigation. What if the speaker cancels or has a scheduling conflict? Bureaus are resourceful with deep networks of speakers. They’ll find you an equally qualified speaker as a last-minute replacement. This assistance (and relief) cannot be overemphasized.

  • They’ve got logistical know-how. Preparing for a keynote is complicated and confusing. This isn’t their first rodeo; bureaus have logistical know-how to handle everything from contract negotiations and delivery, to travel arrangements. They even ensure the right audio equipment is set-up, and handle liability protection.

  • They schedule pre-event calls. Usually 3-4 weeks before the event, the Speakers Bureau facilitate a pre-event call where you and the speaker discuss the event’s theme, objective, and what message you’ll want the keynote to convey. 

  • They save you time and stress. Instead of spending hours of your own time searching and negotiating with speakers, the bureau does this for you. Go spend time on those other million fires you put out.

    The bureau has your back, every step in planning your event. I can’t underscore enough what it means to forge a lasting relationship with someone you can always rely on -- like the bureau.

It is worth mentioning something potentially unfavorable. 

Most speaking bureaus add about 20 to 30 percent of additional costs. This can vary, but when you’re contacting a speaker directly, this direction can be more affordable for your organization. Some speakers will work with you in negotiations for some nuance you can offer (they’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii for example).

With a bureau, you can miss the chance to form a stronger relationship. Some speakers are influential people with good connections. If the speaker likes you, there’s a good chance they’ll help you in the future. Think strategy here, just as you do for any business arrangements.

Watch a speech given by your speaker. When I speak, I share bits about the kindness of organizers I have connected with, pieces of their great content and give a shoutout to their people and even to other speakers. Don’t just think about hiring your speaker for that moment. Think about the relationship that will be built with them, so you’ll have some influencer relationships you can call on, personally.

Although 75% to 80% of my speeches are from referrals or inbound from my content, I still occasionally recommend a bureau when I have a date conflict or my mom says, “Seriously, Stephen, our holiday gathering is the day after!” (True, just happened.)

Some people think bureaus are a thing of the past. In reality, destination marketing organizations, meeting planners, brands and organizers will always need this type of support.


Meet Stephen Ekstrom, Chief Strategist & Host of The Tourism Academy's Business Class podcast.


RELATED: The Tourism Academy names Stephen Ekstrom Chief Strategist

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Bonus: Who are your stakeholders?

Bring destination stakeholders into alignment to support tourism:

Tourism Ambassadors from all possible market sectors come together to create a full visitor experience. Destinations, both big and small, can align these sectors successfully because each benefits from a positive visitor experience!  Here are just a few of those who are positively impacted by your credentialed tourism ambassadors (CTA).

  • Transportation hubs like Airports, Rail Stations, Bus Depots, etc.
  • Activities, Attractions & Events - arts, culture, heritage, casinos, sports
  • Government - City, State, Federal - elected officials like mayors and city council, government employees like police and community outreach
  • Community Members - Passionate Volunteers & Local Citizens
  • Conference Hotels, Convention Centers & Meeting Places
  • Local Mom & Pop Shops and Downtown Merchants
  • Community & Workforce Development / Economic Development
  • Schools & Higher Education - colleges, universities, community colleges
  • Medical Facilities - Urgent Care Centers & Hospitals
  • Lodging & Hotels - home rentals, beds & breakfast, RV parks, hotels, etc.
  • Bars, Clubs, Lounges & Nightlife
  • Real Estate and Reinvestment Firms
  • Places to Dine - coffee shops, restaurants, classy joints and local favorites
  • Commercial Real Estate - malls, downtown alliances, retailers, districts, etc.
  • Event Facilities - convention center, arena, theaters, concert halls, sporting events
  • Modes of Transport - Uber, Lyft, taxi, cab, shuttle, public transit, local trolly, limo, motorcoach
  • Tourism Promoters - Destination Marketing Organizations (DMO), Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), Chambers of Commerce & Community Economic Development Groups
  • Everyone else - Tourism Spending benefits every local person and entity through reduced taxes and economic development, including local banks, corporations, etc.

Need help aligning your community, finding tourism ambassadors or designing your tourism ambassador program? Contact us today and our expert team will be happy to help you get the results you’re looking for. Cheers!

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