Last week my friends Lindsay Rosenthal and Liz King over at Event Alley, asked me to share a few tips for saving money on AV with their event planning listeners.
I thought of a couple and after also consulting with the true AV whiz in the family, my hubby Mike Fryatt, I shared the following.
Understand Objectives of In-House vs. Outside Audio Visual Companies
Going with the in-house audio visual service provider at your venue may be easy, but it won't always save you money, let alone provide you with the best bang for your buck.
In-house AV companies have to pay a significant percentage (40-50% is not uncommon) of every sale to the venue. This makes it very hard for them to give you a good deal.
Also, hotel audio visual is usually where new techs cut their teeth. So while these guys may adequately handle breakout sessions, more involved productions can be a bit of a stretch for them.
Beware of Hidden Fees
Hotels and convention centers are very motivated to get your business, so they will take measures to counteract the attractiveness of outside AV companies.
Beware of contractural fees they often slip in to make up for the loss in sales to outside AV companies. Fees for power or "required supervision" by in-house techs, can be waived if you catch them BEFORE signing these agreements.
Maybe the venue is offering you a great deal on meeting rooms if you use their AV services and your breakout meetings don't require highly technical audio visual. This could certainly save you money in the long haul. However you still may wish to consider hiring an outside AV company for your general session or gala.
Remember, you are in the driver's seat at least until you sign that contract.
Think Ahead and Build Relationships
To get the best deal and help ensure the equipment and service you hire is top notch, aim to build a long-term relationship with your AV provider.
If you use the same company for all or most of your event audio visual needs throughout the year, you can sit down with them at the beginning and negotiate a screaming deal.
Knowing about your needs in advance will also allow them to plan and give you priority attention - the kind you are likely to get as a returning customer.
Consider Hiring Local Labor
This is one I never considered, but Mike suggested hiring local labor for big productions. Apparently, calling a local union or labor company can save you up to 20% on your audio visual labor costs. Again, make sure that you scratch out any hidden fees for bringing outside labor in before you sign that contract with your venue.