Many event planners believe they have to use the in-house audio visual (or A/V) company when they work with a property. They are planning a big event and start working to choose what city and what property to have the event in. Wanting to secure the space and send out save the dates, they quickly sign the venue contract. Often they don’t realize a lot of these venue contracts have a section stating that you’re required to use their in-house audio visual team. Most event planners assume they will need to use the in-house food and beverage catering option, and can mistakenly lump A/V into the same category. However, A/V companies function very differently from the catering, and therefore, should not be under the same assumptions.
In-House A/V May Not Be Your Best Option
Most event planners have enough experience to assume that they don’t need to bring in outside catering, and most often are contractually not allowed to. When it comes down to it, the turkey sandwich boxed lunch or the grilled chicken buffet dinner may not be worth the extra effort. After all, why order the exact same menu from an outside caterer when there’s a very capable kitchen in the venue who can serve those things. However, audio visual is different. Creating boxed lunch turkey sandwiches is pretty cut and dry, but the technically-minded, creatively-gifted crew that you hope is running the presentation of your keynote speaker is not so objective. In fact, it’s quite subjective.
Different Minds for Different Jobs
One of the problems we often see is that most event planners are not extremely technically-minded. A lot of event planners that we’ve had the pleasure of working with over the past twelve years are actually quite logistically-minded. It takes all sorts of people to make an event come together.
Planning Ahead Sets You Up for Success
Another issue we run into often is that audio visual production is not thought about early in planning. Perhaps around the 90 day mark the event planner starts to think about their script or their show flow, they start to form up their multi-day agenda of their general session, and when they are going to send attendees to breakout rotations. Only then do they suddenly begin to think about the stage, the size of screens, how many microphones they may need for their panel discussion, and at this point, contractually, they’re obligated to use the in-house A/V team.
You Have Options
The good news is, this doesn’t have to be the case. Just like you, as an event planner, have options when you’re exploring which city and venue you want to use for your conference, you also have A/V production team options. But if you signed with the venue early on, then knowing it or not, you may also have made the decision to use the in-house A/V team. Perhaps at the site visit you asked very thorough questions, left no stone unturned, and really took a detailed look at three venues before you chose one. But with audio visual production not being on your mind that far in advance, you may have overlooked that detail. We encourage you to take your time, get three bids for production, and meet who your future production partner will be.
Elevate Your Event
After all, this is the crew that is going to be interfacing directly with your CEO backstage, or with your executive director’s presentation slides. One could argue that choosing who that production team will be is greater than the food and beverage options. When you budget for venue costs, food and beverage, audio visual, and more, you do not have to be accidentally forced into only having one option. So next time you take a venue tour, make sure to give a second look to the A/V policy before you sign. You may be surprised by how much the right production team can elevate your event.