In the wild, wild west world of AV and event production, it can be a crazy, confusing world. We often get asked, “When can you use an outside AV company and when are you required to use an in-house AV company?” Sometimes the answer results in as much as a 25% increase in AV costs as we’ve talked about in previous blog posts. Your event budget is very important and sometimes you just don’t have room for an additional 25% costs for your event. This blog post is to help you navigate when you can use an outside AV company and when you are required to use the in-house AV company. This same methodology can also be applied to other vendors such as catering.
Option 1: Venues with NO in-house AV company
Believe it or not but there are many venues out there that have no restrictions to what AV company you work with. Obviously, these venues are easiest to work with because you have full control over what you want to do, however if you don’t have experience planning events, you may find that having that in-house AV provided is helpful. Typically these venues are small or very “non-traditional” so therefore they set their own rules. The easiest way to see if they require you to work with one company is to simply ask. For most small and non-traditional venues they will say no and then make sure you include your vendor early in the conversation so the venue knows you are working with a trustworthy provider.
Option 2: Venues with an in-house AV company
More often than not, venues now include an in-house AV companies. This is because most events require some sort of AV needs, and by partnering with a company, the venue can enjoy additional revenue sources by getting a cut or kick-back to the in-house AV company. As we’ve stated before, in-house companies can be great if you have never sourced an AV company before. However, there are always other options. Similar to venues from option 1, before you sign your contract and early on in your selection process it is important to ask the simple question if they require you to use their in-house AV company.
Beware, whenever choosing venues because they may say they “suggest” using their company which is when you must clarify and ask “Am I contractually required to use this company?” Remember, sometimes a hotel is financially obligated to sell the in-house AV over allowing you to bring in your own company which, they will not many any money off of. Unfortunately, this where we see a lot of used car salesman techniques used to confuse and trick clients into using the in-house AV company.
If you are ever concerned you may not be able to work with an outside AV company or you just want to make sure you have all of your options open, check out our guide, How To Remove In-House AV Restrictions. We have seen huge restrictions from thousands of dollars in fees and this guide will help you remove those restrictions. The important thing is to identify and eliminate the problem before you sign your contract. Be sure to include language in your request for proposal (RFP) and also in the final contract when you commit to your venue.
Remember that as the customer, you have the power to choose and always walk away and while the outside company may not always be the best fit for your event, you never want to be forced to use one vendor.
In conclusion, the short answer to the question is: you can always use an outside AV company. You are never 100% required to use the in-house AV company. However, take the time to ensure you are in the best possible position to use your outside AV company as to avoid fees and any hassles that may arise.