You finally found the perfect venue for your next event… congrats! Picking out your upcoming event venue is an exciting process… But can also be a stressful one if you overlook the fine print. Before you X that dotted line, we’re here to tell you the top 5 things to know before signing a venue contract.
#1. You have the power to negotiate
You have the right to negotiate your best possible event. It’s important to know that the in-house AV supplier is not the only option before signing your venue contract. Most venues have contracted AV providers that gives them kick-back or commission, and that’s why those facilities recommend certain providers over others. Many venues will have you sign a contract that states restrictions on your AV options, but these items are usually always negotiable. Watch out for these ‘fine line’ additives and come prepared to cross out what you shouldn’t commit to. This can be a lifesaver when it comes to avoiding hidden fees with in-house restrictions as well. Remember that it’s you that holds the power to negotiate.
Regardless of which provider you choose, it’s a good idea to bring outside quotes into your negotiations to potentially drive down in-house costs. Some AV companies are willing to attend and help walk you through this process. Using a hotel or conference center’s in-house audio-visual equipment and staff may seem like a quick, easy or cheap solution for professional meeting planners. It also, for many, might seem like the only solution. We’re here to tell you that it’s not and by opting to work with an outside AV provider, you can save on costs and expect great service for an all-around better event.
#2. You have options on equipment
Outside AV providers constantly purchase new equipment and phase out older or worn-out products. You’re much more likely to get the best equipment when you work with an outside partner. Even if you don’t need the newest projector or laptop, an outside AV company will have several options, so you can choose the exact model that fits your needs.
Find a few outside AV companies that you think would do a good job on your show, send them an RFP and see your options! You may get different interpretations from companies, so make sure to provide as much detailed information as possible so that it leaves less room for error. Compare to negotiate the best deal and eliminate from there. Make sure to also speak directly with the outside AV specialists about your event’s objectives to help them understand how to best work with you.
#3. Know your budget matters
An outside AV company allows you to select different options on equipment to stay within your budget. They can tailor to your exact needs instead of giving you a commoditized bundle of vague options. Not every event is the same… and working with a provider that understands the importance of getting each detail right and working specifically for your needs is important. When you’re spending a lot on an event, your money should remain well-spent.
Power, rigging, and internet costs applied by an in-house AV contract can kill your event budget. Once you sign the contract, outside AV providers have no control over these extra charges that can and probably will be applied by the in-house provider. They have all the control on their rigging policy, electrical service, and internet access points… and may even charge you for things like ‘plug-in wall power.’ This is another reason why it’s important to review and negotiate these items with an outside provider before committing to a venue contract.
#4. Get dedicated technician support
By bringing in an outside provider of your choice, you should receive dedicated support for your event. If you have multiple events at the same location, hiring the same technician through your preferred AV provider will ensure you continue to get the support you need. Provide as many details you can about your event, so that they can choose the right equipment and the right techs to make a perfect match.
On the contrary, in-house laborers are generally not specialists in video, audio or lighting but more often just trained in striking smaller rooms. They are not necessarily experts in the technology they are operating like an outside AV provider would be. Which can leave more room for operational error. In-house AV companies at hotels are often responsible for multiple events happening in the same venue. You don’t want your event to be one of many – you want it to be the center of attention.
#5. Avoid added fees and service charges If you book your event with an outside AV provider, you should never be caught off guard by extra costs after an event. On the other hand, sometimes in-house providers will bill things like ‘extra technician time’ or ‘service charges’ without letting the client know. What are these charges for? Well… we aren’t really sure. Outside AV providers typically don’t do this. A great outside provider will always get approval for changes in advance, so you’re never surprised or over-budget at the end of your show.
A hotel’s AV contract could run your bill higher than an outside AV providers’ rates would, and you probably wouldn’t get the dedicated support or expertise all for reasons mentioned above. AV Concepts provides a systematic approach to making sure everything is clear and upfront, so you are not left in the dark with your own event. A good outside AV provider will always check back around after the event to review areas for improvement so that the next event will be even better if you choose to stay with them. Always remember – you have the power to negotiate the best terms for your show possible, so make sure you do before signing your venue contract!