As an event professional, you have likely seen your fair share of hotel AV contracts. Often, it’s tempting to just sign on the dotted line, especially since it means you don’t have to hunt down your own equipment and technicians. But, you shouldn’t always default to what the venue has to offer, as you might not be getting everything you need or, at least, the best deal. So, before you commit to the contract, here are a few things to consider first.
The Choice is Always Yours
It isn’t uncommon for the hotel to put pressure on you to sign with their providers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go your own way. For the venue, convincing you to sign with their AV provider often means they enjoy a revenue bump, so they have a vested interest in you choosing that route, even if it isn’t ideal for your event.
You may be surprised to learn that you actually have a lot of power in this equation, as your event is providing value to the venue as well. So, don’t be afraid to negotiate the terms and leverage your position to avoid binding AV terms. Then, research what other outside companies have to offer, and see who can truly meet your needs at the best price. And, if the hotel’s AV service is fully capable of meeting your requirements, you can use competitor offers to help drive the price down too.
Get a Breakdown
Before you sign a contract with any company, regardless of whether it’s the hotel AV provider or an outside vendor, you need to know exactly what is and isn’t included, and how much each service or piece of equipment costs you. You also want to see what fees are involved and what any “service charges” are covering.
In some cases, in-house AV providers will even charge for unexpected items, like plugging into the venue’s wall-based standard power outlets, which would be unheard of with an outside vendor. However, the site does have a lot of control over the services, which is why it is important to negotiate a contract with them that does not force you to use their AV partner.
Whenever possible, try to get the proposed cost estimate itemized. This ensures you have detailed information about what every dollar is for and gives you the information you need to ask questions if something isn’t well explained. Then, you can negotiate more effectively and compare providers with greater ease, ensuring you are getting the best deal for your event and that everything you expect to be included actually is.
Look Beyond the Price
When you have multiple bids in hand, don’t assume that the cheapest option is actually the best deal. Not every quote is going to include the same range of products and services, so a lower number may mean you aren’t getting something that you could secure with another provider.
As mentioned above, having an itemized quote can be an excellent start, as it makes comparisons easier to manage. You also want to talk to the vendor about their vision for the event, as they may have very different ideas about what should be a priority.
To make this as effective as possible, you need to make sure that every vendor has the same understanding of what your event entails and any special needs you may have. This can include the number of expected attendees, any technology-oriented expectations (like high definition live streaming), and the size of the session rooms. That way the providers are better able to understand what you are hoping to see when everything gets set up on site and how you envision various portions of the event taking place.
Ultimately, you want to select an AV provider who can meet all of your needs and offers a fair price for their services. In some cases, the winning bid will be with the hotel’s AV provider, and that’s fine. But, if it’s not, you do have the right to make your own decision, ensuring your event has exactly what it need to meet your needs as well as those of everyone in attendance.