Who Pays When Disasters Occur When Hiring Presenters, Speakers, Motivational Keynoters, Trainers, or Seminar Leaders?

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Who Pays When Disasters Occur When Hiring Presenters, Speakers, Motivational Keynoters, Trainers, or Seminar Leaders?

On the surface of things, hiring a speaker is easy. They do the speech, you hand them a check. But what happens when the unforeseen comes up?
I asked the two professional speakers, Jeff Dewar and Capt. Dave Carey. For the planners presecpetive I interviewed Carol Lazier of the American Society of Reconstructive Microsurgeons, who has numerous years of experience as a meeting planner and hires many speakers.

To these three I asked "who pays when …"

… your speaker, keynoter, trainers, or seminar leader must spend an extra night on the road to get to you?

Sometimes the speaker is already on the road doing several meetings during the same time period. In order for them to speak to you, they must spend an extra night on the road. Example: A California based speaker does a PM speech on the 1st in New York. You want them to speak for you in the afternoon of the 3rd. There isn't enough time for them to get all the way home for the evening of the second. So who pays for the speakers upkeep the day and evening of the 2nd? The speaker? The other client that used them for the 1st? Or you?
The two speakers I interviewed felt that their total bill for expenses should be prorated between all the clients involved. Although this would make the hotel and meals more, it would be better for the planner in the long run as the airfare gets prorated too.

On this extra night issue, Carol Lazier of the American Society of Reconstructive Microsurgeons,thinks, "If I know up front at the time of booking, that the speaker needs to do this in order to accept our booking, I think it is fair, as the airfare is pro-rated accordingly, and I am in all likelihood going to pay less. I would pay for hotel only, at a reasonable rate for the city. I would bristle at having to pay for a super deluxe hotel, and would want the option of dialog with the other group to use their negotiated rate. Obviously, it is sometimes much cheaper to even pay for the speaker to come in ear;y if it entails a Saturday stay over with the reduced airfare. I don't feel I'm responsible for paying for any meals or other expenses for this day. After all we are saving the speaker 'jet lag' in some instances, and this should be viewed by him as a cost of doing business."

… the speaker, keynoter, trainers, or seminar leader can't get to you?

What happens if the speaker gets snowed in at an airport in Montana, after an engagement for someone else, on the way to your meeting in Miami? So they are now not able to speak for you at all. However, they have developed the material, blocked out the time and paid for the airfare, and several days at a hotel while stuck in the Montana airport! Who pays for all that?
Capt. Dave Carey, a POW from Vietnam, is a wonderful motivational speaker. Dave says he would excuse the planner for his speaking fee and reimburse them for anything they had already paid, but ask for the planner to pay for any travel costs.

Jeff Dewar, speaker on "Quality" and "Quality Service Systems," agrees, "the speaker should waive his fee and client pays for all expenses incurred.
Carol Lazier says for meetings, "I think a professional speaker has an obligation to allow sufficient time to travel between bookings. Maybe flying out of O'Hare regularly has me more sensitive to this issue, as I regularly face delays when I fly. I personally would never think I could fly out of O'Hare and allow less than 5 hours before an important meeting. I don't think speakers should put themselves and the client in the position of a one and only connection (such as one flight a day to the destination out of an airport which habitually has to close for snow in peak snow time) should be considered. After all, I'm facing an audience of 2,000 people, and that's punishment enough. I would expect a refund of monies paid out to date, with possibly 10% going back to the speaker to cover administrative costs. It's up to the speakers bureau and their contract with that speaker to divide it up – whether it be the bureau's administrative costs or reimbursement to the speaker for out of pocket costs.

… the speaker, keynoter, trainers, or seminar leader develop material for a program you cancel?

You have asked the speaker to especially tailor their material for your group. They develop handouts, spend 7 or 9 hours writing new presentations, then you find out you won't have enough attendance to hold the meeting, so you cancel. Do you owe the speaker something?

Capt. Dave Carey, has a cancellation clause of 50% of his total speaking fee.

Jeff Dewar's first consideration is whether the planner has contracted him for the next meeting. If yes, he would just proceed as if that was the original date.
If a canceled meeting occurred that Carol Lazier planned, she feels, "If there is not a contract which has requested a 50% deposit upon signing, I would feel it appropriate to reimburse the speaker for his preparation time. I would try to re-book the speaker for another program in lieu of reimbursing him for his time if it could be worked out. But if not, it certainly is our obligation to reimburse him for his time.


Once the situation occurs, it is very difficult to come to an agreement on "who pays." Adding a few extra lines into your contract ahead of the event may save you considerable anguish afterwards.

Lilly Walters the author of five of the best-selling books about the professional speaking industry, such as, "Speak and Grow Rich," "1,001 Ways to Make More Money as a Speaker, Consultant or Trainer: Plus 300 Rainmaking Strategies for Dry Times," and many more.

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Lilly Walters is the author of five of the best-selling books about the professional speaking industry, including the best seller she wrote for Dottie Walters, "Speak and Grow Rich"