It’s your choice!
You always have a choice between the hotel’s AV provider and your production partner. You will feel some pressure to use the in-house AV but you don’t have too, remember you are the customer. The best option is to look over the contract and see if there are fees associated with bringing an outside production company, or a daily or hourly cost for a person to oversee the load-in and load-out, these are just small tactic the in-house AV company tries to recoup lost revenue for not using the in-house provider. These fees are small compared to the overall dollars of the contact, so this is the time to negotiate these fees and have them removed even if you decide to use the house provider.
Cheaper is not always the best option
Budgets are important and have to be followed, but the old saying “You get what you pay for” is true when it comes to your audio & visual for your events! When comparing your bids, just make sure it’s an apple to apple comparison, look over each bid to make sure that all the equipment is what you asked to have for the event. Many times vendors will try to package equipment, but this means nothing to you if your needs are not covered. A way in-house AV will try to lower its quote is labor, suggesting that you only need 1 technician to handle the general sessions, since their hourly rate is sometimes 2 times as much as outside companies. Try to picture how can one tech, stop playing the walk-in music, intro the speaker, bring up the stage lights, drop the room lights, switch to the show computer and start the speaker timer, not all sessions are this complexed so it is possible for a single tech to support the event, but something to be on the look for when comparing quotes.
Other costs that are really an AV cost
There are a few changes that you could pay for using an in-house or any outside vendor. Power, rigging and internet are the three items that in-house companies really have you over a barrel and outside company has no control over. If your event doesn’t need the internet and lighting and audio are ground supported, there will be no charges, but you will still need power!
With increase efficiency and advances with equipment, the draw of electricity is not the same as a few years ago and the need for the high amp 3 phase power is lessening. So again in-house is losing more revenue and another reason that AV companies are starting to charge to simply plug into the wall for power. The fact that hasn’t changed is ballrooms are large and don’t have a large number of outlets to plug in equipment, so the need for the high amp 3 phase power drop.
Many times in-house AV will use the internet as a major barging chip, they will give the event free internet if you book the in-house AV provider. The first thought is this the way to go! But if you read the fine print, the number of connections or speed will be very low and you might end up paying for the better speeds or higher number of connections. With the rise of apps in events, as the event planner, you are tasked with either proving the attendees with internet or possibly breaking your budget. The one charge that you will see on your final bill, service charge most times is 20% is something that most in-house providers will charge you. This amount can significantly chew up your overall budget.
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 or a large fee to gain access to the hotel. The hotel doesn’t want to be in the AV business and is not responsible for the equipment or staff. Every time an event brings its own AV provider the in-house loses more revenue and has to make it up, what better way is to have higher rental and labor rates to potential clients.
In the end, you do have a choice which AV provider you use for your event, as well as the costs that will affect your budget. Understanding the contract will help you make a more informed choice.