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October 16, 2019 / By admin
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May I Bring in My Own AV Team for an Event?

An excellent Audio Visual setup and a capable AV team you can trust to deliver are essential to your event success. This means that if you want to keep your event attendees delighted and attentive, your event’s Audio Visual and the folks behind it need to be right. Unfortunately, though, your Audio Visual needs can also eat up a lot of your budget, and unless you have a bottomless budget, your AV bill has to be trimmed down to stay in the black.

But how do you do that?

Well, if you are trying to save big bucks on your Audio-visual expenditure, without compromising on quality, you may want to bring your own AV team to your event and make them a part of the event planning process right from the day one.

Hotel’s in-house AV vs. your own team

The hotel’s unreasonably persuasive sales manager may try to sway or mislead you by designing contracts that will attempt to keep you from bringing in your own Audio Visual squad. See, most major hotels have in-house Audio Visual service providers, outside companies who keep equipment at the hotel for use during events. These AV companies need to pay a rather hefty commission of your invoice to the hotel, which can range anywhere from 30% to 50%. To make up for their commission, you should expect to pay a premium. Using the hotel’s in-house AV services may be quick, easy and convenient, but that convenience can quickly drain your funds.

Let us also not forget unforeseen charges or service fees. In-house Audio Visual service providers often charge for unnecessary things (such as extra technician time) without letting the client know. These unannounced fees can throw a spanner in the works of your overall budget for the event. Needless to say, when you work with your own AV team, you will not be surprised by any unnecessary costs once the event wraps up.

Your team knows what you need

Working with your own team has other advantages as well. To begin with, you already have a history of working side by side at several events. Therefore, your own audio Visual team knows what you expect from them, what to look for and how to identify any architectural issues that you will need to account for in advance. They can efficiently handle everything from general sessions and AV to execution and stagehand labor.

They can help you get the right equipment

Sure, in-house Audio Visual service providers at a hotel may have a stock of equipment on-site, but how can you possibly ensure that they have the specific equipment you need and even if they have what you need, it is not in use at another one of the hotel’s events? Well, you cannot! This is yet another risk you have to be willing to take if you are considering paying for your hotel’s in-house Audio Visual team. When you work with your own team, on the other hand, you can avoid the situation where you do not have the right equipment needed for your event’s success.

Your team will be well-acquainted with what breakout equipment is needed at your event and will make sure you have them. They will determine exactly how many projection displays and AV inputs you will be in need of. They will also make sure the microphones, sound quality, cameras, stage and power supplies are compatible so your event unfolds as planned. You can count on your own AV team to be prepared and pack extra cords, adapters and HDMI/VGA splitters, so Audio Visual data can be communicated as intended no matter what unforeseen situation presents itself. Whether you have speakers showing up with a presentation you were not expecting or a musician brings an incompatible piece of equipment, a good AV crew will have you covered.

In addition, many in-house Audio Visual systems are outdated, with questionable reliability. Why? Because many in-house providers have very low (if any) quality control processes in place. However, your own AV team would have surely invested in the most advanced technology in order to bring in the most appropriate equipment to pull off the job with the highest standards.

Your team will be dedicated to your event

In-house Audio Visual service providers at hotels are often responsible for managing multiple events going on in the same venue. That being the case, it is quite possible that some of the AV technicians you need could be tied up on the other side of the venue while you are having a crisis and no tech is at your disposal. This is where having your own AV team can be worthwhile. If you have your own AV crew, any problems that might make an appearance, your own techs are there to troubleshoot.

Smooth operations

Lastly, your AV team keeps everyone on the same page and ultimately accountable. They may compile a cue sheet that summarizes the details of each segment, the equipment required, the person accountable, and every change in lights, sound or video. Having these steps planned ahead of time will undoubtedly make things go seamlessly for you and your audience.

Conclusion

Audio Visual plays an integral part in the success of your event; therefore, you HAVE to get it right. When you bring in your own AV team to your event instead of working with the hotel’s in-house crew, you can be assured that you are saving a small fortune on AV and achieving the best value for your event, without making concessions on quality.

We, here at TOAST, are dedicated to the success of your event. For nearly two decades, we have produced flawlessly executed live experiences through innovative design, engaging event production, and smart technology installation. We would love to talk with you more about bringing in your own AV team to your event, and how we can make your event everything you dreamed it would be and more.

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A site visit can answer the deeper questions that relate to the ultimate success of the event: the staff, the sleeping rooms, the meeting rooms, and the overall atmosphere and ambiance of the venue. Let's face it - websites are all about pretty pictures and featuring the best side of the property, but that's not always the reality. What you don't get online or through a few phone calls with the sales manager is the "real" experience of the venue.

What to look out for when on a site visit

When conducting a site visit, it’s important to follow a comprehensive approach that includes several aspects of the venue. Having a few tools on hand will make your site inspection much more productive after you leave. A laser measuring tool is always handy. Believe it or not, your mobile device is a great tool!  You can easily snap photos and videos that can be shared with your client and team. Rather than emailing individual pics around, we prefer to post our images in a photo-sharing website so the entire team can easily see the venue. This will help you get a definite feeling for the best venue that will satisfy your needs. After all, if you’re spending a lot of money on your event, it's your job to ensure that you get the right venue for the overall success of your event.

First impressions

Whether you’re looking for something out of the ordinary for a corporate event or a performance venue with a stage and basic lighting rig, the first thing you need to look out for is the surrounding neighborhood to see what the first impression will be by your attendees. Check the registration area, the lobby and its décor and overall cleanliness and condition. Even if it’s an older property, you can tell if it's being well maintained, updated or refurbished or if there’s noticeable deferred maintenance. Is the lobby furniture and carpet worn, tattered or dirty, the elevators scarred or takeout food boxes left around? Look at who's in the lobby and restaurants – you want to see what type of clientele the property attracts.

Sales manager

It's really the on-site meeting with your sales manager that can make or break the opportunity to short-list a venue. During the one-on-one time, it's important to observe the amount of time they spend with you, space they show you, how they answer your questions and who else you meet along the way. Believe it or not, all of this is very important - it will tell you if they’ve been paying attention and if they understand your event requirements. It’s also a reliable indicator of how important your event is to them, as well as how you and your attendees will be treated on the day of the event.

And let's not forget the Internet. Overnight guests always need 24/7 high-speed Internet. So, make sure to ask when it was last updated, how fast it is, what the daily or multi-day cost is, and of course, can that cost be negotiated or even waived for a group?

A few other things to consider: What are the hours for room service and restaurants? Is there a fitness center and is there a use fee? What are the hours? How close are the sleeping rooms to the event space?

Event space

Your visual inspection of the event space should include much of what you’ve already been looking at - the general condition of the space including when it was last updated, the condition of both hard and soft goods. But just as important, does it meet the requirements of your attendees such as natural light, size, and ceiling heights? What is the "usability" of the space (are there pillars or is the room an odd shape)? Can it accommodate your AV needs? How updated are the air walls and are they soundproof? What's around it - other event spaces with other groups, the catering kitchen, pool area or kids club, a garden or a parking lot? The overall layout of the space - how efficient is the floor plan for all of your space needs including meal service? How would other groups in-house intermingle with our group?

Transportation

If guests are local, check to see if there’s adequate parking available, and the cost. In some of the larger cities, valet parking can cost as much as $50 per night at the property, but there might be a public lot next door or self-parking for less than half that amount. If there are other events planned for the same time, is there enough parking for everyone? It's very frustrating when your guests arrive at a meeting only to be greeted with a sign at the parking lot that says "Parking Full - Overnight Guests Only." If guests will travel from afar, does the venue offer shuttle service to/from the airport? If not, can private shuttle service, taxis or a car service be pre-arranged? What are the costs likely to be? And what’s the transfer time from the airport to the venue?

Sleeping rooms

When looking at the sleeping rooms for you and your attendees, layout, and size of the rooms are key - is there an adequate workspace? Can the guests move around with ease? Simultaneously, you should look at the overall condition of the room. You’re not only looking to see if the room appears clean but also at the soft goods to see if they are old, stained or frayed. Are the air conditioning/heating ducts clean or filled with dust? Is the room tastefully appointed - color palette and furniture selection, bright and enjoyable to be in? And the bathroom - is it larger than a breadbox? Has it been updated and when? Does it have adequate counter space to layout toiletries? Are the bathtub/shower tiles clean?

Wrap-up and scoring

Expenses are important, and it’s crucial to ensure that your budget won’t be exceeded. But that's only part of the equation. In order to ensure an optimal event, you need to balance the total estimated expenses against the suitability of location, accessibility, comfort, cleanliness, ambiance and overall feel of the venue. By seeing the property, meeting the staff, asking the right questions, requesting documented proof of past performance, and most of all, negotiating the basics before you sign the contract, you can pick the best venue for your event.

If you find yourself in a position where you’re unable to conduct a site visit on your own, TOAST can help you on your search for the perfect venue as your technical scouts. We know what to look for and what questions to ask when conducting a site visit. This way, we can help determine the best space for your event, and also the advantages and limitations of what's available.

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