Talk to any group of meeting planners and they’ll tell you that one of the most frustrating elements of planning and executing a conference is the audio-visual. From planning and budgeting to on-site issues, A/V is what often keeps them up at night. It’s mysterious and complicated and changing all the time. It’s expensive, and frankly, it can make or break an event.
The flip side is that A/V can add sizzle and create an emotional connection between your event and the audience. It can take the overall impression of your conference from “met expectations” to “mind blown.” But how do you harness the A/V beast? Here are a few simple steps to consider.
1. Venue Considerations
» Save thousands by avoiding rigging and ensure each room allows for ground-supported equipment.
» Always schedule sufficient time for equipment set-up and strike. Avoid overnight/early morning set-ups.
» Avoid midday room changes.
» Ask for room diagrams when venue contract is signed.
» Does the venue manage their broadband account or does a third party?
» Rooms need to be locked each night. Ask for this service free of charge.
» Make sure there are no docking charges.
2. Power – is not always included with an A/V quote. Stress you will pay for power used, not generic daily power charges.
3. In-House Liaison Fees – These should never be charged when using an outside AV company. Have liaison charges removed from your contract.
» First, use a bandwidth estimator to determine your broadband needs. The CIC provides one at conventionindustry.org.
» A contract should list rates charged if allotted broadband usage is surpassed.
» Agree and sign broadband charges before announcing your A/V vendor.
» Your broadband should be dedicated to your event only and without additional charge.
5. Approved Vendor Clause – Some inhouse A/V companies require an outside A/V company to be an approved vendor. This should be removed from your venue contract.
6. Contract – When negotiating with a venue, add verbiage to the contract that you will not be penalized in any way for using any type of outside vendor.
7. Room Details – For easy comparison of multiple A/V quotes, provide the following information in your RFP.
» Room availability: When all rooms are available for set-up.
» Full event schedule: Essential for correct labor scheduling.
» Room sets & audience size: Needed for correct equipment, placement and labor type.
» Room diagrams: Created by venue and should be included with RFPs.
8. Speaker-Ready Rooms – This brings tremendous value, lower costs and reduced stress for concurrent breakouts with multiple presenters. All breakout room computers can be networked or connected to the main computer used in the speaker-ready room, making access and changes simple.
9. Establish Speaker Needs
» Video: If used, is it embedded in presentation or is Internet needed?
» Computers and tablets: Will a computer, tablet or other device be used for the presentation, are they being placed on a podium or A/V tech table, is a special adaptor needed?
» Screen format: Determine and inform speakers if the screen format is 16:9 (widescreen) or 4:3 (old square TV) format.
» Other: Is a wireless presentation mouse or speaker timer needed?
10. Union Labor Considerations
» Union labor may double or triple costs.
» Union requirements vary from city to city and venue to venue.
» Different types of unions may be required for different type of work.
» Work with an A/V firm that has contracts and relationships with required unions.