In-house AV or Outside Production Company?

Written by Mike Harley

In House AV Versus Private AV Company

I took my kids to see a movie over the long Thanksgiving holiday. The joy of that day was nearly knocked out of me after paying $40 for our tickets and another $40 for treats (3 drinks and 2 boxes of candy and a popcorn). Ouch!

Ok, by a show of hands, how many of you have ever snuck candy into the movie theatre? Come on, be honest, no one is looking.

I know it probably felt wrong. After all, you were breaking the rules. But, darn it, don’t you just get tired of being ripped off? I mean paying $5.00 for the same box of M&Ms you can purchase at the corner market for $1.50. It’s enough to drive any reasonable person to break the rules.

Have you ever felt the same way when you’re handed the invoice from the hotel AV company? And to add insult to injury, there is that 19% service charge on top of their high prices (I guess they feel obligated to add on because you had the pleasure of being served by them 🙂

There is one big difference in hotel AV and M&Ms (and it’s not that one is sweet :). The difference is that you CAN bring in your own AV company without breaking the rules. Now isn’t that great news? All the AV with none of the guilt!

I was inspired to write this article after learning from a meeting planner that she didn’t know she could use an outside AV vendor. What? I thought everyone knew this. But obviously it’s lesson worth repeating. As a professional meeting planner you need to know your options. It may help you bring you client better service and a lower cost.

There are several reasons you may want to consider using an outside audiovisual company versus the in-house company:

1. Cost.

Obviously there is the cost. In-house companies are almost always going to be 25 – 50% higher than an outside vendor. In-house companies are required to pay a “commission” to their venue. Therefore, if you pay $400 for a projector, there is a good chance the in-house AV company only keeps $200. The other $200 goes to the house. An outside vendor can provide the same projector and only charge you $250 and still make more on the projector rental than the in-house company would have made renting it for $400. This gives the outside company much more flexibility in pricing equipment.

2. Long term commitment.

An outside company will travel with you from meeting to meeting. We will work hard to earn your business year after year. (I have worked with some of my clients for over 10 years. In some cases I have more experience on the show than the current meeting planning team. I frequently get asked, “do you remember what we did last year?”

When using the in-house company, unless you plan to return to the same venue for your next meeting, it’s unlikely you will work with the same company. Your outside vendor becomes your partner in show over the long haul. You get to know your team and they get to know you. It’s hard to place a value on this, but if you asked our clients about this, they would say our knowledge of their event is extremely valuable. It’s great to show up in a strange city and see familiar faces on your event–ones that have helped you year after year.

3. Quality.

When you use an outside vendor you select them using the principles of free market based on value, reputation, service level, etc. Competition forces us to be good, or we don’t survive. The in house company is selected just because they happen to have the contract with the venue. It’s been my experience that this can lead to taking the client relationship for granted and a drop in service and quality levels.

Of course, I believe that you should shop around. There are times when the in-house company may be the best choice. But, at least you know you have options. Shop around. There are a number of good quality audiovisual companies that provide the services you need. .

My name is Mike Harley, and our company is pixel:) We provide high quality audiovisual support to associations at a great value. We serve our clients all over the country. I am more than happy to speak with you more about this. Please feel free to contact me anytime.


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Mike Harley

Ambassador of Goodwill at pixel:)
My name is Mike Harley, and our company is pixel:) We provide high quality audiovisual support to associations at a great value. We serve our clients all over the country.

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