We do things a little differently here at Speakers Spotlight, and we’re proud of it.
Our co-founders Martin and Farah Perelmuter took an unconventional approach to building their business. They didn’t come from the “biz” and had zero preconceived notions about how an agency like Speakers Spotlight is supposed to run. So, they developed their own processes not realizing at the time just how different they were.
They had a goal — to serve event planners, speakers, and audiences in new and better ways — and took the path they felt would help them best achieve it. And here we are, almost three decades and 38,000 bookings later, still following that unique philosophy that has become the cornerstone of our success.
To cap off our “About Us” series, where we’ve been exploring the mission and values that guide us in the work we do, we’re diving deep into what sets us apart in the speaking industry.
1. We Do Our Due Diligence
We take great care in choosing the speakers we represent. More than 1000 speakers approach us each year looking for representation — that’s 3-5 per day! — and we take on less than 1% of them. We’re selective because we have to be.
On the speaker side, we want to ensure that we provide our roster with the highest level of care and service to best represent them to our clients. And to our clients, we want to present a curated group of speakers that we feel are best at what they do within their area of expertise and price range.
This is one of many services we provide clients. There are thousands of talented speakers out there within a certain topic. We take the guesswork out of which of those thousands of speakers are not only the best for your event but are also a true professional in every sense of the word.
What Our Clients Say
I have been working with Speakers Spotlight for over 20 years! They have helped me source incredible speakers for at least three companies I have worked for now. Each time, they find me a perfect match for my audience and objective. I have full confidence in working with Speakers Spotlight and recommend them to anyone who will listen!
Thank you Speakers Spotlight for taking time for me and my events, and always being considerate of my budget. You are truly an incredible partner!
Veronica Love, Senior Vice President, TMG The Mortgage Group and Chair, Mortgage Professionals Canada
2. No Commission Sales Agents
Our sales agents do not earn commission. Instead, they’re incentivized to do what’s right — act with our clients’ and speakers’ best interest in mind. Our goal is to find the right speaker for each audience, not the most expensive one, and to develop long-term relationships built on trust and integrity.
It comes back to our values — we value relationships over transactions, Martin said, but if we compensated solely based on the transaction that would put us at conflict with our value system.
What Our Speakers Say
For me, Speakers Spotlight stood out from other agencies in the way they communicated, how they followed through with promises, and, most importantly, how they cared so much about each client and event. All of this combined led me to working exclusively with Speakers Spotlight for well over a decade now.
They prove to me again and again that they care, that they are to be trusted with the most simple to the most complex of events, and that they are deeply engaged in the entire process of matching me with clients and events that truly resonate for everyone.
Clara Hughes, Olympian and Mental Health Advocate
3. We Depend on Collective Experience, Expertise, and Commitment
More than half of our company has 10+ years of experience in this industry. When you have that, you want to use it!
We encourage collaboration and for our team to learn from each other’s collective experience to help us better serve our clients, keep on top of trends, and sometimes make miracles happen. This is the kind of culture we want to cultivate, Farah said, and it’s possible because we incentivize our team through a relationship-first philosophy.
Meet one of our miracle workers — Mélanie Roy, Director of Speaker Relations, who joined Speakers Spotlight in 2005. She works one-on-one with several of our exclusive and high-profile speakers. Mel is often at the centre of navigating complex speaking schedules between multiple agents and clients for the same speaker, one of those being John Herdman, the former head coach of the Canadian Men’s National Team and the current head coach of Toronto FC.
John’s schedule is very tight with limited availability. Earlier this year, a sales rep came to Mel with a speaking opportunity for John in Barrie, ON, which she initially had to decline. Based in Vancouver, he already had a virtual event booked for the same day and his schedule didn’t allow time to fly out for just one event.
By chance, another speaking opportunity popped up for John the day before the Barrie event was to take place. This was when the wheels started turning. Mel knew there was a possibility to bundle these events together to make it worth the flight time. John was game!
Within a two-day window of availability, Mel managed to book four speaking events for John, working closely with three different agents and four different clients to make the logistics work — which included bouncing between Toronto to Barrie and back to Toronto again with a virtual event thrown in between. Needless to say, four clients were made incredibly happy when it all worked out.
“When we have the opportunity to make something work for our clients,” Mel said, “we’re going to do everything in our power as a team to get it done.”
4. We Manage the Details and Mitigate the Risk
This is a two-parter! We take the risk out of the decision-making process for people looking to book a speaker, and we manage all the details it takes to get them there. Including when/if something goes awry, such as rogue weather, flight delays, illness, you name it.
Thankfully, we can count on one hand the number of times this happens out of the 2,000-2,500 events we book per year, Martin said. But when it does happen, clients want to know they have a partner they can count on. If there’s a problem, we’re going to have a solution for you — sometimes before you even know there is a problem.
“I’ll never forget the time I tracked a speakers flight through the night to make sure he made it to an event on time for a morning keynote,” Marta Moher, Director of Client Services, shared. She has been with the company for almost a decade now and is well-practiced in the art of problem solving.
“Their flight was delayed and had multiple connections, so it was a marathon to get there,” she continued. “I would take naps while the speaker was inflight and set my alarm to wake up just before the flight landed to make sure the speaker made their connection, and then I’d make the necessary changes to hotel reservations and car service.
“This story has a happy ending. The speaker got there on time and I later got a text message from the client with a video of the speaker receiving a standing ovation and a message that said, ‘now get some sleep.’”
We’re proud of the quality of service and level of care we’re able to provide our community of clients and speakers thanks to the commitment and dedication of our incredible team.
And that wraps up our “About Us” content series — sparked by our brand refresh launched in early 2023. When we decided to hit the reset button on our brand, update our look, and modernize our website, it became a far-reaching and fascinating look at who we are and how we got here; a story we wanted to share with you.
So, THANK YOU for joining us on this journey and we look forward to serving the events industry for many more years to come, fueled by our mission and six values: