Audio Visual…Venue Service or Go Direct? - Tailormade Conferences

We have just come back from a 2 day conference in Vienna.  That’s quite a long way to take our normal UK based audio visual partner!  The result was we had to source an alternative.  It made us wonder whether it is better to go direct to an audio visual company or use the venue’s in-house service?

From experience there are a number factors when considering whether to use the venue’s kit and expertise or an AV professional.

1. Size of event.

As a rule of thumb, the bigger the event, the less inclined we will be to use the hotel’s in-house team.  Once it is anything more than a screen, a projector and very basic microphones our general experience is that it can be over and above the venue’s core competencies.

2. Customer Service!

An in-house hotel / venue audio visual department is often on a tread mill of events.  They are coordinating a number of events, some happening on the same day.  This means they spend less time asking you about your event objectives, and therefore the Audio Visual equipment might not fit with what you actually need.   Using a specific contractor means you can spend time discussing the event, and then the set / stage and equipment provision is specific to your needs.

3. Flexibility

Including the audio visual within the hotel’s contract could mean you are committing yourself to extraneous terms and conditions and cancellations.  Going direct will often mean the specialist contractor will substitute one piece of kit for another, or even upgrade you at no extra charge.

4. Price!

Sometimes the in-house hotel audio visual department is required to ‘kick back’ a fee to the hotel / venue.  This could mean they will never be able to beat the pricing of an outside A/V company. If a ‘kickback’ is not required then the venue is absorbing the audio visual cost / investment and paying a portion back to the in-house audio visual department. Either method leaves the in-house department with little flexibility to discount.

5. Up to date equipment

Some venues will boast they have fantastic audio visual facilities that are included in the hire charges of the room.  Our experience suggests you should always check the quality of the audio visual provision.  Don’t just look at it, get a demonstration and get a reference from a previous user. We have seen out of date projectors with low lumen levels, connections that are faulty, technology that is not compatible with modern platforms or PA systems that produce feedback, static and unreliable audibility.  Whilst not common everywhere, venues will be less inclined to keep on investing in their equipment whereas a private contractor will need to keep replacing and upgrading kit to remain competitive

6. Response levels

You might be tempted to go with the in-house audio visual department based on the fact that the in-house team are located on the property so their response time will be immediate. Having managed a number of events in venues and worked in hotels, you quickly learn this is not true.  They can be stretched with technicians expected to cover two or three events simultaneously.  If you contract with a specific supplier, you can rest in comfort that the technician is on site during your event and therefore their response time is absolutely immediate.

The above comments are general observations.  We do accept that a number of venues have made great leaps forward in terms of audio visual supply but, they are venues first, and technicians second.

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