When Price Is The Object, New Budget-Friendly Speaker Service May Just Fit The Bill

Nashville, Tenn. — The process of searching for a speaker often starts with a meeting's goals or locale, and ends with peer or speakers-bureau recommendations, or (if price is not an object) national reputation.

A new speaker's bureau service, however, focuses entirely on budget, with an array of presenters whose fees run $3,500 or less, plus expenses.

The service, www.budgetfriendly speakers.com, was created, according to founder Shawn Ellis, "as a direct result of the economic constraints planners are facing."

Ellis, who used to be executive vice president of the Premiere Speakers Bureau, created his own bureau, The Speakers Group, last year.

"When I was at Premiere, many times we had to turn meeting planners away because they were looking for speakers for $1,000 or $2,000," he said. "At those lower fee ranges, there's not a large roster at many bureaus."

Ellis said many of his budget-friendly speakers are just starting out and are available for as low as $500. Some higher-priced speakers on his website may work for under $3,500 if they don't have to travel. He said all are screened for their professional capabilities.

"I see it as something that reflects the true market today," said Terry Brock, an Orlando-based marketing technology speaker who is listed on budget friendlyspeakers.com. Brock's normal fee is $10,000, but he will appear in the Orlando area at the $3,500 level.

Brock said the lower price for a local appearance is like any negotiated rate, whereby regular fees may be lowered if, for example, he can sell tapes or receive other benefits.

"It's not just about reducing your fee, but receiving value for value," he said.

Some speakers bureau websites already offer the ability to screen speakers by price. At Premiere, for example, you can search in various fee ranges, from $45,001 and above (e.g., Mario Andretti, Lance Armstrong, Deepak Chopra, etc.), to $5,000 or less (e.g., Bob Alper, "The World's Only Practicing Clergyman Doing Stand-up Comedy ... intentionally").

The Washington Speakers Bureau and the International Speakers Bureau both have links to speakers who charge less than $10,000. By contrast, the National Speakers Association offers a variety of ways to search for its members, including by name, locale and area of expertise, but there's no price search function.

Contact Christopher Hosford at [email protected]