When it comes to audiovisual, it’s easy to make mistakes and overspend. If you feel like you have difficulty with AV budgeting you aren’t alone: 67 percent of people in Connect’s recent webinar said they found pricing most challenging when working with or hiring AV companies. All too often, event planners receive quotes but are unsure what the quotes mean or what they truly need. They aren’t sure what to do or ask to make sure they are getting the best price. Follow these tips and you will be able to empower yourself and know what to ask and be aware of in order to stop overspending on AV.
Understand Your Quote
AV quotes are confusing and can seem like a different language. This often leads to overspending. If you don’t understand what you’re paying for, how can you negotiate? The first step to overcoming this obstacle is to familiarize yourself with basic AV terms and concepts prior to meeting with your AV company. Ask your AV company to walk you through your quote line by line. Every single AV item can be explained in layman's terms. If the AV company you are speaking with won’t explain each item or gives you the runaround, they are trying to rip you off.
Negotiate In-House Venue AV Restrictions
In-house venue AV restrictions can break your budget fast. There are so many fees you need to be aware of—from power fees to Wi-Fi fees and more. The venue may even try to require you to use in-house labor, which can be more expensive than an outside AV company. However, you can almost always remove in-house AV restrictions. Some restrictions, like rigging, are non-negotiable and that is for safety, so be sure to ask why a fee is placed on your bid. Always negotiate fees and restrictions when you are doing your RFP process and during contract talks.
Leverage Your AV Teams’ Knowledge
Great AV companies will listen to you about your budget, event vision and concerns. They will take all those factors and come up with a plan to work with you to help you achieve your goals. They may be able to show you ways to achieve dramatic staging for less or save money using more energy efficient lighting. If you are upfront with your AV company about goals and your budget, they should be able to help you find options to achieve those goals within your budget or the differences that come with cheaper alternatives.
Be Clear on Your Vision
This is a big one we see all the time! If you aren’t clear on your vision and event logistics, you could be hit with additional costs. Additional costs can pile up fast when it comes to events. To avoid this, come prepared with as many details as possible. How big is your venue? Can you supply floor plans? Where do you want staging? What kind of power do you need? How many people are projected to come? The more you know about your event, the better chances you won’t be hit with any surprise costs.
Know What Questions to Ask
If you learn to ask the right questions when hiring an event company, you can undoubtedly save money. When going through quotes, ask if the providers are using the best piece of equipment for the job. Sometimes AV companies will give you older equipment because they have it in stock and can profit. You don’t want a piece of a equipment just because it’s in stock. A good AV company will select pieces of equipment because they are the best for your event’s needs. If in doubt, always ask why they chose the specific equipment and what it will be used for.
If anything changes during planning, make sure you get an updated quote. If you make a lot of changes, you may not realize how that will affect the bottom line. Confirm with the company if nothing changes, then your invoice will match the quote. Prior to the event, clarify what the prices are so you know exactly what you will be paying for and what you will be receiving. You won’t have the power to negotiate once you’re at the event and everything is finalized.
If anything does come up on-site ask your AV company to show you what the price of the change would be on-site—not just send you a mystery bill after. Once you receive a pricing estimate on-site you can agree to the change or make new plans. Finally, be sure to ask if the labor includes set up, tear down and travel. These types of additional fees can surprise you and blow your budget.
[inlinead align="left"][/inlinead]Will Curran is the founder and chief event einstein at Endless Events. A past member of Connect’s 40 under 40, Curran has been producing events since high school, when he started his first company and has now worked in the production of large event clients such as Morton Salt, Uber, Emerald City Comicon and Anheuser-Busch. His team’s mission is to simplify the event planning process by creating the equation for an event’s perfect solution. From event logistics to business development to technical production, Curran has a diverse background in growing events and companies to the next level.