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11 Tips for Negotiating Your Meetings Audio Visual

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Audio Visual is one of the areas that most planners never really develop comfort around. Sure, we can all stand behind a tech table and call a show, but what is all of that equipment for and how much are they charging for it anyway? Why do some properties have union fees and high drayage while others don’t? Why do I see 4 techs at one location and 3 at another when the scope of the program is the same?  Do I have to use the in-house AV group or can I bring in someone else? Why is the hotel adding a service charge to the in-house AV bill?

In order to effectively build your budget and truly understand what you are getting, start a very clear dialogue with your supplier and don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Take the time to learn what your are paying for and carefully review a line item breakdown.  I can’t tell you how many times I have received a proposal that has a bucket cost for the total services, but also has a disclaimer that additional fees can be incurred.  Our clients expect us to provide them with an accurate budget, so we need to be sure to have the same expectation from our suppliers.

And always get at least three bids! Even if you have worked with a group for a long time, you may be surprised at what you find when comparing apples to apples.

The following is a piece I found on www.velvetchainsaw.com by Jeff Hurt and it has some good advise.  Enjoy!

Registration, room-blocks, ground and air transportation, accommodations, food, beverage, contracts, speakers, insurance, decor, meeting space, room capacities, ballrooms, schedules, room layouts, floor plans, contractors, union labor and much, much more.

These are just some of the ingredients needed to put on a great meeting. Of course, we can’t forget that we need attendees, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors too! Often meeting professionals get so consumed with all the details that we forget the main purpose of the meeting: the attendees. All of the logistics are there to serve as a tool for the attendee’s experience.

One of the most important details is the audiovisuals (AV). And it’s often the area meeting professionals know the least about, unless they have a production background. AV serves as a major conduit between the presenters and the audience. Without it, the audience has difficulty hearing and seeing. In recent years, AV has become increasingly sophisticated and complex. Companies release new AV technologies and tools on a regular basis.

Similarly, audiences’ expectations for high-tech AV have increased. Since most of them carry high-tech mobile devices, they’ve grown accustomed to expecting the same or better in our meetings.

Here are 11 Tips to Consider when Negotiating Your Meeting’s AV.

1. Focus on your strategic goals instead of the equipment you think you need.
Concentrate on what you what to happen with AV. Share your budget parameters and let your AV partner propose solutions that give you the most for your money. Ask for an estimate that includes good, better and best options that meet your meeting goals.

2. Schedule speakers with the same or similar AV needs in the same room.
This cuts down on setting up and tearing down equipment as well as labor costs.

3. Consider show rates instead of per day rates.
Sometimes you can get better rates in the summer months as the demand is lower. When you utilize the same equipment in a meeting room on multiple days, discounts should follow.

4. Secure your AV vendor for multiple events and years.
Frequently, if you contract your AV vendor for multiple events and/or years, they will give you a significant discount from their prices. I used to secure my AV vendor for three years with a 30% discount on equipment rental fees. My agreements always gave me an option to cancel.

5. Negotiate tear down discounts.
Setup takes two to three times longer than strike labor. The AV team needs to test, adjust and retest equipment.

6. Remove any exclusivity clause in your venue contract.
If you bring in your own AV provider, an in-house preferred supplier may want five percent for lost opportunity because you didn’t use them.

7. Request a schedule of power and rigging fees.
These are negotiable and often overlooked.

8. For audiences of 3,000 or less, don’t fly the projector.
Keep the projector on the floor for smaller audiences and consider rear projection. It’s more expensive to fly the equipment on lifts from the ceiling.

9. Secure a guarantee on final bill price.
Ask for a guarantee that the final bill will not exceed the estimate by more than 10 percent without authorized changes.

10. Seek a win-win.
Don’t be afraid to ask for something free or greatly discounted if the AV Company is making additional money from exhibit orders. Some AV companies will offer you a rebate on exhibitor orders.

11. Get a grip.
Don’t expect cutting-edge technology for overhead projector prices.

What AV negotiation tips would you add to this list? What are some cool AV technologies that you’ve used recently?

What to elevate your next meeting or event? Your friends at AMI are here to help.
Contact us at (866) 337-7799 Ext 8877 or bd@AmericanMeetings.com.

By Jeff Hurt on velvetchainsaw.com


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