• Work with your A/V supplier to find the right solution for your budget. Share your cost requirements, and provide plenty of advance notice to make any adjustments.
• Being flexible with setups will allow A/V providers to share their expertise.
• Inquire about bundled pricing to take advantage of additional services.
You have high expectations for your event. You want everyone to be blown away by the amazing stage set, the incredible sound and the impressive high-definition video, because you know the quality of your meeting's audiovisual production likely will be a factor in how successful your show is perceived to be. At the same time, you have to be mindful that while your production aspirations might be grandiose, your actual budget might be somewhat less so.
Read on for some helpful tips on how to get the most bang for your buck when working with A/V companies.
Book Further in Advance
Call your A/V provider and get the date on the calendar as soon as possible. You might not have yet defined the full scope of work required, but you probably know enough to initiate the conversation. Adding in this extra time allows you to discuss options, make modifications and review the proposal without the pressure of a short time frame. When A/V providers can plan in advance they can better manage costs, and you can benefit from that planning.
Collaborate with your supplier
Have a conversation with your A/V provider about the expected outcome - not just the technology you think will be needed. Many planners ask their A/V providers to bid on a detailed request for proposal, and then immediately scrutinize the proposal line by line instead of taking a more collaborative approach. By understanding the expected outcome, A/V professionals can better meet your specific needs at an appropriate budget.
Share your budget
Be candid about your budget from the first conversation. When provided with a precise budget, A/V professionals can tailor the specific equipment and staff to meet the event's needs.
Be Flexible with Your Room Setup
Odds are that your A/V provider has worked with hundreds of different layouts. They might suggest positioning the stage differently or recommend making small investments in lighting, a confidence monitor, speaker timers, and individual microphones for presenters, all in an effort to improve the atmosphere and comfort of everyone involved.
Something as simple as orienting the room or audience differently might allow the supplier to bring in less sound or lighting equipment, or simply save set-up time.
Booking multiple events or using your A/V provider for multiple services can result in discounted pricing. Some A/V providers offer video or graphics development as part of their package deals, which can offset your costs for additional services.
Donald Guzauckas Jr. is general manager of North Haven, Conn.-based HB Live (hbgroupinc.com) and is the past president of the Rental & Staging Network (rentalandstaging.net), a network of independent audiovisual companies.
It’s worth investigating beyond the venue’s in-house A/V provider to examine options and compare costs. Be aware that fees might apply for bringing in a third-party supplier if the venue already has a contract. Identify and negotiate those fees if you prefer to bring in an outside partner.