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Why Event Planners Should Consider Independent AV Providers

It may be simpler to use a venue’s in-house AV, but event planners get more bang for their buck by considering outside contractors.

Audio visual (AV) is a critical, if often overlooked, component of any successful event. Depending on what the planner needs, an event’s AV may appear invisible or it can take the spotlight. Either way, every event needs AV.

AV providers come in as many shapes and sizes as there are kinds of events. There are large and small companies and in-house and independent providers. Planners should evaluate these options as carefully as a venue and caterer.

Maintaining freedom

Each event you hold should fit into your organization’s long-term strategy and mirror the brand’s image. A good AV company will ensure your event will build your brand, achieve your company leadership’s goals and align with audience expectations.

You need to be proactive if you want AV done with a provider of your choice. Before you sign the venue contract, maintain your freedom of choice between the in-house AV company and an independent provider.

Once you sign the venue contract, you’ve lost your negotiation power and your ability to carefully vet your options. At that point, you’re stuck with the in-house AV or additional fees to bring in an outside AV partner.

Getting the ball rolling

Start early with the RFP, which should include a clause that gives you the freedom to bring in outside providers. Since fees are negotiable at the contract stage, provide the venue with terms that maintain your freedom of choice with no additional costs.

Your independent AV partner can also assist with the contract language, provide sample terms and negotiating advice.

Convenience and power

If preserving your freedom of choice seems difficult and going with the in-house option looks more convenient, there’s a reason for that. It’s in the venue’s interest for you to use the in-house company. In-house AV vendors pay venues commissions for “preferred vendor” status. Ultimately, you as the event planner pay these commissions as in-house vendors set prices to cover the costs. Outsourced AV partners don’t have the burden of paying the facility, so they have greater flexibility to provide solutions with the most impact.

Whether or not you use an independent AV company or go with the in-house provider, if you preserve your freedom in the contract stage, you have options later. At the very least, you can have a competitive bidding process. 

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