Nearly as long as time, itself, there has been a war waging between in-house and independently contracted AV/event production companies. Why is this? It is all about money, but there’s no surprise there. So, maybe the right question we should be asking is “what’s the difference?” or “why is it generally better to go with an independent AV/event production company?”
An in-house production company is provided by the venue, meaning one of two things: either the event production companies are the venue, or the event production companies are in cahoots with the venue in some form or another.
This can be a situation where an event production company is contracted by the venue to provide AV/event production services for larger venues such as a convention center, hotel, stadium, or other like venues, but can be a result of prior work history between the two, establishing the expectation of exclusivity, a higher level of comfort in the fact that they have prior work history, or they are perceived as a reliable and professional source for services. Other times, however, there is a contract between the event production company and the venue where they pay a percentage of their revenue to the venue.
How does this affect you as an event planner? One reason to avoid “preferred vendors” is the simple fact that if the in-house av company has to split revenue between them and the venue, generally increasing cost of services, endangering your event with threats of breaking the budget.
You may think that an outside vendor would be more expensive, however, that may not be the case. Some venues do charge a fee for using an outside vendor so be sure you read your contract thoroughly before deciding which to choose. However, by getting bids from outside vendors you may see that you get more value for your money by using an outside AV team.
In the worst case, AV/event production services are provided by an employee at the venue/hotel or by the in-house team that is put together by the venue. This can pose a threat to attendee safety and overall success of the event. How so, you may ask? When a “preferred vendor” is suggested, or possibly made mandatory by the venue, this does not necessarily mean the service provider individuals have extensive experience working for event production companies. When this turns out to be the case, it can create a nightmare for any event planner due to many mistakes, breaking equipment and in-turn raising the cost of the event for you, and putting themselves and attendees in danger if the equipment is not set up correctly.
So, what’s the difference between in-house and independently contracted event production companies in this case? You do not generally run the risk of an unknowledgeable staff when you hire an outside production/av company. For example, our staff is trained on a weekly basis on equipment to ensure a quality show at every event and requires extensive training prior to working on any shows. Your event is not the time to try new equipment and processes for the first time!
Another perk is that an outside AV-Production team can travel with you to every venue you have events with. They will be able to get to know you and your style over time with events and become an integral part of your planning team. A level of trust will be built that you simply would not have if you switched from in-house team to in-house team for production. You will not have to worry if they can deliver or not at the event because the trust is there from working together time after time.
While it is convenient to use an in-house team because they are already there, but bear in mind that you may be less impressed with the final results. The in-house team is used to working at the same venue over and over again using the same equipment and same designs. If you want something to wow your attendees, blow the audience members’ minds, or simply put on an aesthetically pleasing event, an independently contracted event production company has more experience working in different settings and with different equipment, leaving room for more creativity in every well-designed event.
Overall, using outside AV/event production companies is a safer bet, even if it is just proceeding through a quote process between the in-house and independently contracted event production company!
We hope this article suits you well in your potentially dark hours of scrambling to find the right production company, and as always, we wish you the best of luck on all of your events for your sake and for the sake of the industry!
Below, you will find an offer for a webinar titled “How To Make Your Event AV Foolproof,” we highly recommend you watch it and bring a pad and pen and take thorough notes, as there is a ton of information for working with event production companies, the ins and outs of the industry, and other useful information for your next event!