Aspen Meadows Resort

845 Meadows Road, Aspen, CO 81611. USA
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Selecting/Working With Speakers - Part 2

Aspen Conference Venues


  • Most speakers are willing to negotiate. Here are some of the give-backs-that is, additional in-kind benefits you may extend to the speaker-that you and he can talk about to warrant a reduction in fee:
    • Videotape master.
    • List of attendees.
    • Testimonial letter.
    • Referrals.
    • Extra night(s) accommodations.
    • Choice of time slot/date.
    • Multiple performance contract.
    • Extra publicity.
    • Spouse airfare/meals.
    • Mailing list.
    • Article in your organization's newsletter.
    • Two or three ads in newsletter at no charge.
  • Ask if the speaker offers any discounts for:
    • Certain geographical areas.
    • Resorts.
    • Time of year.
    • Non-profit organizations.
    • Multiple engagements in one city.
  • Can the speaker fill more than one slot? Hiring another speaker means additional expenses for transportation, hotel and food.

The following are standard items that should be in every contract:

  • Company name, address, contact name.
  • Speaker's name, phone number, cell-phone number, emergency phone number.
  • Place of engagement: Location, address, phone number, room where speech will be presented.
  • Period of engagement:
    • Day/date of speech.
    • Length of speech - e.g., approximately 1 hour.
    • Time frame - e.g., approximately 1-5 p.m.
    • Expected attendance.
  • Topic title.
  • On-site contact(s): Name, phone/fax numbers, e-mail address, emergency phone number.
  • Fee plus any additions such as airfare, hotel accommodations, material reproduction costs, etc.
  • Technical requirements: audiovisual needs, reproduction of any handouts, etc.
  • Payment schedule: When deposit/final payment is due. Also, to whom check is payable.
  • The fine print. This is to protect the speaker or bureau from liability. If you are hiring celebrity entertainment, it can be very specific down to the type of drinks the entertainer wants in his dressing room. Make sure you read this over carefully. It can mean additional dollars that you weren't counting on spending.
  • Additional riders. These usually encompass lighting, staging, special food/drink, etc., and they always mean more money. Before you make your final decision, consider the extra cost. Will it break the budget?
  • Signature and dates. A contract is not complete until it includes the speaker's/agent's signature and date as well as your signature and date.


  • Travel
    • Establish who makes the travel arrangements for the speaker. Most speakers like to do their own and bill you separately.
    • Let the speaker know who (name of travel agent) is making arrangements. Let him avail himself of the same deal that may be available to your attendees, including, say, corporate discounts or group fares.
    • Speakers will try to get the client the best airfare deal possible but must have the flexibility to fly full coach, if necessary. Also, they most likely will be able to upgrade to first class with no additional expense to you.
    • Have the speaker's travel itinerary so you can have someone waiting for him at the airport upon arrival and bring him back.
  • Hotel accommodations
    • Have late arrival as an option.
    • The room should be on the master account.
  • Payment
    Speakers expect to be paid on the day of performance. Alert your accounting department to have a check cut. If you are working with a bureau, it might ask for the check in advance so the check can clear and the bureau can pay the speaker in a timely fashion.
  • Recording agreements
    Most celebrity speakers will not allow recording of their speeches. If they do, an additional fee could be required.
  • Audiovisual budget
    Is your AV budget in conflict with speaker requirements? If your budget is particularly tight, let the speaker know up front, so you can work together on achieving the right balance. For example:
    • Ask if a wired microphone may be substituted for a wireless one.
    • Ask the speaker if his presentation requires an elaborate, expensive lighting or sound system.


  • Backup Plan A
    Make sure you have one. Professional speakers are on the road a lot, and you can't blame them for wanting to limit the amount of down time they spend at any conference. However, you never want your speaker taking the last flight on the night before the meeting, especially if he is scheduled to speak first on the agenda.
  • Backup Plan B
    • What else could go wrong? It's anything you can think of, from demonstrators and pickets at the front of your hotel or meeting venue, to inclement weather delaying the speaker's arrival, and even laryngitis.
    • What is your emergency plan? What steps will your speaker take to help find a suitable replacement?
  • Strive for excellence
    • Provide the best attendee environment possible.
    • Classroom and theater-style are not the only setup possibilities. Be open to suggestions that have worked for this speaker before.
    • Involve the conference planner to discuss ways in which the room setup can enhance the program that has been developed.

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