It’s your choice!
When planning an event, you always have a choice between a hotel’s AV provider and your own production partner. You may feel some pressure to use the in-house AV, but you certainly don’t have to. Remember, you are the customer. The best option is to look over the contract and see if there are fees associated with using an outside production agency like Elevate Media Group. You should also look for daily or hourly rates for overseeing the load-in and load-out. This is a common tactic hotels use to try and recoup lost revenue for not using the in-house provider. Comparing these fees to the overall contract may make them seem small. So, if you do not choose the in-house provider, it is best to negotiate and remove fees early on to avoid hiccups down the road.
Cheaper does not always mean better
As we all know, following the budget is incredibly important. Yet the old saying “You get what you pay for” is certainly true when it comes to the audio & visual for events. When comparing your bids, make sure it’s an apple to apple comparison. Look over each bid to make sure that all the equipment is what you requested for the event.
Often times vendors will try to package equipment, but this means nothing if your needs are not covered. One way in-house AV will try to lower its quote is with labor, suggesting that you only need 1 technician to handle the general sessions. Yet, sometimes their hourly rate is more than 2 times as much as outside companies. Try to picture if one tech can monitor the walk-in music, introduce the speaker, bring up the stage lights, drop the room lights, switch to the show computer, and start the speaker timer, etc. Essentially think through all aspects you want, and if one person is able to handle all elements. Obviously, not all sessions are this complex, so it is possible for a single tech to support the event. Yet this is just something to be on the look for when comparing quotes.
AV Costs Disguised as Other Costs
There are a few charges that you may pay for by using an outside vendor rather than in-house. Power, rigging, and internet are three items in-house agencies routinely charge for that outside company’s have no control over. If your event doesn’t need the internet, and the lighting and audio are ground supported, there should be no additional charges.
With increased efficiency and advancement in equipment, the draw of electricity is not the same as a few years ago. Additionally, the need for the high amp 3 phase power is lessening. As a result, in-house agencies are losing more revenue. Which is another reason that AV companies are starting to charge to simply plug into the wall for power. One fact that hasn’t changed through all of this is that ballrooms are large. Yet oftentimes don’t have a sizeable number of outlets to plug-in equipment. Resulting in the increased need for a high amp 3 phase power.
Typically, in-house AV will use the internet as a major barging chip. They will give an event free internet if booking the in-house AV provider. At first thought, it seems this is the way to go. Yet if you read the fine print, the number of connections or speed will be very low and you could end up paying for better speeds or a higher number of connections. Additionally, with the rise of apps made for events, you are now tasked with providing attendees with internet. Keep in mind when looking at your final bill after an event, you may see something called a service charge. Chewing up much of your overall budget, it is not uncommon to see a service charge of upwards of 20%.
Why in-house rates and equipment costs are more than outside AV providers.
The simple answer is they have to recoup the cost to be at the hotel. The AV company is paying the hotel a commission to gain access to the hotel. Most hotels don’t want to be in the AV business and are do not want to be responsible for the equipment or staff. This means every time an event brings its own AV provider, the in-house crew loses revenue and has to make it up somewhere. An easy way to do this is to have higher rental and labor rates for potential clients.
At the end of the day, you have a choice of which AV provider you use for your event. You should just take note of the costs that will affect your budget. It is key to understand the contract to help make a more informed decision.