As planners, we can often find ourselves frustrated with suppliers. Have you ever received an AV quote that was only broken down into four line-items? How are you supposed to know what’s included in each AV “package” or “kit”? Where did these costs come from? Is all of the suggested AV equipment essential for the event?
AV companies don’t generally provide a line-item breakdown of costs, and that’s okay because, realistically speaking, it isn’t reasonable to negotiate pricing for each individual item. But getting a quote to fit within your budget isn’t as difficult as it may seem at the outset.
Here are three key questions to consider when thinking about AV for any event:
- Should you really use the venue’s preferred AV supplier?
It’s important to understand that while preferred suppliers are familiar with the venue and have previously been in the space, a qualified AV company can deliver high quality sound and visuals regardless of how many times they’ve worked with the venue. A quick site visit is generally all they need to ensure your AV on-site is a success. This isn’t to say that preferred suppliers are never a good choice, but it’s also worthwhile to make sure you’re considering all options. If you don’t have a trusted AV company in your contacts, the preferred supplier is always a safe bet.
- Do I really need all of the equipment that the AV supplier has included on the proposal?
AV companies will sometimes over-estimate how much gear is needed and include more expensive equipment in your quote. If you explain your budget and your specific needs, a reputable AV provider can help you avoid incurring unnecessary costs. While it’s great to have the latest technology available, older models can sometimes do the trick. The first quote that the AV supplier provides should include all equipment that you may need and then you can remove what is unnecessary, rather than starting with a bare-bones quote. . Take the time to familiarize yourself with the equipment listed on your AV order in order to ensure that you’re not leaving anything out or adding anything that you don’t really need. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the items on your quote and always remember that any additional items you may need on-site can be charged at a day-of premium.
- Is there any way to avoid the plug-in fee?
An industry expert told me a secret that I am excited to share. If you take away just one thing from this blog post, let it be this: venues will sometimes waive the plug-in fee if you ask.It’s common practice for a venue to charge a plug-in fee if you want to bring in a non-preferred supplier. But did you know there may be a way around this? According to an insider, getting a venue to waive the plug-in fee is easier than you think.
Before signing the venue contract, explain that you are very interested in using the venue, but that you have a preferred AV supplier and you’d prefer to bring them in without incurring a fee for not using the venue’s preferred supplier. It’s likely they’ll waive the charge in order to get you to sign on with the venue, and it’s a win-win: they get the business and you get your preferred AV company. Just make sure you’re asking before you sign the contract. It may take a bit of negotiating, but you won’t know if you don’t ask.
Developing relationships with suppliers is crucial for planners. Having trusted partners in the industry helps to make the most of your event budget and ensures flawless AV. At the end of the day, trusting your supplier is more important to your event’s success than a supplier being familiar with a venue. Besides, knowing your AV is well taken care of gives you more time to focus on the attendees and ensuring that their experience at your event is positive. If you’re looking for unique ways to enhance on-site experience, check out our post on emerging event trends.