4 Ways to Tame Your Audiovisual Costs
Ah, audiovisual charges – they’re rarely good. In fact, they tend to be the biggest wildcard in any event budget, with the power to instantly blow your bottom line to smithereens. Small wonder the thought of the final A/V bill tends to fill a planner’s heart with dread. So how to contain it? Here are a few thoughts on how to start containing costs with your in-house AV provider long before charges start to mount:
1) Make friends in high places.
Face it, keynotes, plenaries and breakouts rise or fall on AV, so make the in-house AV Department your best buddies from the get-go – and treat them with the respect they deserve. Most AV staffers are excellent problem-solvers, so be sure to draw on their expertise and work closely with them to find creative solutions and workarounds, particularly when your budget is tight.
2) AV is a softer hard cost.
Granted, a few unexpected AV charges can sink a budget faster than you can say ‘lights out,’ the good news is that they’re also the most flexible. AV hard costs are considerably softer than things like F&B, meeting room and even room block rates, which vary significantly based on supply and demand. With AV there’s more wiggle room than you may realize, in part because the venue already owns all the equipment and there’s a finite number of renters on a given day. Thus, it’s a bit more of a buyer’s market, so don’t be afraid to drive a hard (yet polite) bargain with A/V estimates – and keep sending them back to the drawing board till the numbers, though rarely cheap, are ones you can live with.
3) Back into your AV budget.
Another way to approach the AV budget is to back into it – working backwards from your total available AV spend. To save everyone’s time, let your AV contact know as specifically as possible, your meeting and equipment needs and amount you have to spend. Ask them to base their estimates on that figure, adding in any cost-saving work arounds they need to make in order to hit that number. Their estimate also must include all taxes, service charges, fees, and any item that would impact the final AV tally, which can account for as much as 30 – 40% of your total budget.
4) Comparison shop.
Not liking what you’re seeing on the initial estimates? Then take your in-house AV estimate to an outside vendor. Assuming they come in lower, go back to the in-house people to see if they can match it. If they cannot or will not come down to an acceptable number, then go with the outside vendor or work out an arrangement where in-house and outside AV can share responsibilities in a way that works with your budget.
Photo credits: Shutterstock.com