Several times recently we’ve heard from clients who are upset by their venue stipulating that they will have to pay a penalty for using an outside AV vendor. For our most loyal and we think most discriminating clients, they will find ways around the added cost to use their favorite outside audio visual production company.
They ask us, “Why do I have to pay the hotel a penalty?” The answer is you don’t. Almost all hotels outsource their “in-house” AV service and will lose a revenue stream if the in-house team doesn’t do the work. It’s unusual for a hotel to employ its own audio-visual staging crew and buy the sound systems and projectors needed for large meetings. There are large hotels and resorts that do not outsource the AV, but that’s rare.
The truth is that the in-house hotel AV services generally pay a 30%-50% commission to the hotel.
You don’t have to pay a penalty to the hotel for using outside AV vendors if you plan ahead and use your leverage.
You, as the buyer of services from hotel, have a lot of cards to play before you sign a hotel contract. Early on, you have great leverage to negotiate the best terms for your event, especially if it’s a multi-year contract and you’re securing a large block of rooms. You must consider everything (not just AV, but F&B, wireless and other special fees) before you make a venue selection and sign your contract.
There are some reasons to use hotel AV and we are the first to recommend them for what they do best. Let’s say your agenda calls for a general session each day and breakout rooms with several tracks throughout the day. Now we would start to consider working with the in-house resources. If the breakouts are standardized with a screen, projector, and microphones in each room, hotel AV makes the most sense.
If you have a general session every morning and a closing ceremony, plus awards, recognition, team building activities, etc., you will want to work with a sophisticated audiovisual team that is used to delivering perfection under pressure.
There are often services that only the hotel can offer, like power connection, rigging points and rigging labor, wifi, internet bandwidth, and phone connections. It gets more complicated when you add in union labor.
If you do choose to bring in your AV production company, you will need an AV firm that plays well with others. When you have an outside audio-visual vendor coordinating with the union, hotel AV and others, you will want someone who is experienced in what we call the PartnerVendor Approach. We take playing well with others to another level. We can actually make the event more successful by practicing these skills.
For larger meetings, we highly recommend that you consult with a technical director to determine the specific technical needs of your upcoming event. These specialists can visit the venue with you or review the venues before your visit. This insight will give you the knowledge to make an informed decision and save you money simultaneously.