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AV fees and infrastructure costs are things that you may not think about when planning your event. However, it is a must to keep on your radar. If you don’t find out venue capabilities ahead of time you may be in for a world of surprises in fees and additional costs.

av fees
In order to execute your vision and keep on a budget, you need to be aware of AV Fees and Infrastructure costs while planning and deciding on venues and beyond for your event. 

Below we set out to cover the most common AV fees and infrastructure costs you need to be aware of while planning your next event. If you missed the first blog in this series click here to learn all the AV terms you need to know. 

Infrastructure Costs You Need to Know

Cable AV Fees

Cables – Cables are a normal part of your event. Most people don’t think about them but there are a few things to know when speaking to your venue and AV company about them. Ask where you are allowed to place cables in your venue to make sure you have enough in your AV quote. Make sure you know what the venue rules are so you have a clear understanding ahead of the game and plan for additional costs such as cable ramps if needed.

Extra cable – Cable is something that you often don’t think about when planning your event. However, if you have AV you are going to have cable and it’s going to cost you. While it should be included in your quote, you need to think about where is your cable running. Are you just running a little cable from power to speakers and lights? Or is it going far away to a generator? Are you running power 200 more feet? Your AV company can help you get the exact amount of cable you need but you should be aware that the more cable the more cost.

Cable ramps – Cable ramps are ramps with slots for cables. They are used to prevent people from tripping at events.  Typically you will have more ramps if you have a lot of cables in use. Ask your venue where you will need to put cable ramps and if there is anywhere cables are not permitted. Occasionally venues won’t even allow you to have cable ramps. In that case, sometimes you have to build archways to hold cables, etc. If you have uplighting all over the room check to see if you can run cables, if you can’t you will need wireless uplight. Wireless uplights can run 2-3 times the cost of wired-up lights. Talk to your venue ahead of time to find out what is and isn’t allowed.

Power Fees

Generators-  The need for a generator varies. Sometimes you will need one and sometimes not. Most hotels and convention centers have massive infrastructures. You will need to plug into their power, but you may not need a generator.

Think about the venue’s power when looking to book your venue. If it is a smaller venue and you have a big production planned you will likely need a generator. If the event is outside, you will need a generator. Be aware of the size you need for your event. The more electric power you need the bigger generator will be. 

Infrastructure Costs

Scissor lifts –  Scissor lifts are primarily used for rigging purposes. The lifts are used to hang things high in your venue, You will need them to hang very high drapes, rigging truss, lighting, and more.  

Genie Lifts- A genie lift is a material lift. Unlike a scissor lift, people do not ride in these. Genie lifts are used to hang things like truss during your event. It is a ground support infrastructure alternative to rigging. You can hang line array systems, truss, and more without using the rig points in the hotel.

Using this method of hanging equipment can save money compared to rigging. Rigging is a large expense. It is a lot of money to higher qualified riggers. It’s also a time-consuming process. However, sometimes genies are not the way to go. There are weight restrictions on what a genie can hold. You also want to make sure using a genie fits your vision as they will be visible your whole event holding up the equipment. Typically the base of these towers are covered with black cloth to make them more presentable, and to keep people from tripping on their legs. See the video below for a great demonstration of how a genie lift looks and works!

Rigging – Rigging is one of the bigger AV costs you can incur. If yours is a meeting or event where you’re typically hanging lighting, sound, and projection from the ceiling, find out if your venue charges to use rigging points. Ask what their rules are and if they require you to use them exclusively for rigging services (so you can either negotiate or include those items in your budgeting).

There are typically venue costs associated with using the rigging points. One of the biggest costs comes from the labor it takes to get the equipment hung.  “Riggers” must be certified–no ordinary AV tech can handle the rigging for your events. Safety is a big issue. Part of the fees they’re charging include insurance costs. This is also what often drives venues to make the rigging a required in-house service (even if you bring in your own outside AV company). The venues are more familiar with the weight restrictions as well. This is not something to skimp on. Safety can be compromised in MAJOR ways by skimping on rigging. If you plan on rigging, plan on paying the professionals to avoid an event disaster. For more information on rigging check out our blog post about rigging

AV Fees To Watch Out For

Venue AV Fees

Service fee – A service fee is similar to an “admin” fee you see when you are renting an apartment. Sometimes they are merited and sometimes they are not. When going over the service fee you need to ask yourself; does it seem reasonable? What is the service fee for? Is it just another fee for no reason other than to make a few more bucks? Or is there more service involved that merits this fee. Ask what the fee covers. If the venue cannot answer this question with a detailed and specific response it might just be another way to collect more money and might not be necessary. If you do not feel the fee is warranted you can negotiate with the venue to have the service fee dropped.

Ask what the fee covers. If the venue cannot answer this question with a detailed and specific response it might just be another way to collect more money. If you do not feel the fee is warranted you can negotiate with the venue to have the service fee dropped.

av fees

Internet/Telecom Fee-  There’s an increasing need and demand for internet at events. Venues know this and decided to start charging you tap into their internet services. Often this fee is, unfortunately, a rip-off. However, you can negotiate this fee off your quote before you sign your contract.

If you plan to live stream budget for your venue’s internet costs to ensure your live stream isn’t buffering and breaking up. You will need the option of the venue for dedicated live streaming. However, if you are not live streaming look elsewhere. We recommend looking into other options should this fee arise in your quote. More options are available than ever, check out which uses 4g hotspots plugged into a router.

However, if you are not live streaming we recommend looking into other options should this fee arise in your quote. More options are available than ever, check out which uses 4g hotspots plugged into a router.

Power Fee – Similar to the internet fee, a venue power fee can come as a shock. As you can probably guess by the name, this fee is charged to tap into the venue’s power source. It often is a charge for the setup or the amount you need. Power is usually described in 20 AMP circuits. In larger shows, you may see it broken into single and 3 phases (3 legs to the power).

You can negotiate not to pay for power (before you sign the contracts) but you do want to pay to have the power connected safely. It’s extremely important it is set up properly or it could cause electrocution. Talk to your AV company before you sign a contract stating how much power you need. There are ways to save on power fees such as using LED lighting and lower power efficiency items.

Credit Card Fees –  Using a credit card to pay can have additional fees associated with the payment form. Expect to pay around 2.9% additionally if you pay this way. It is always best to ask your AV company how they want to be paid and do it that way to make everything easier on you and avoid fees. In addition, if you are paying last minute you can expect to be required to do a wire transfer to ensure the funds are on time.

Babysitting Fees – If you are not using the in-house AV company, the venue may require an in-house AV tech to watch over your AV company setup. Venues often site quality assurance for the reason to they need to oversee. Occasionally, venues will even charge this fee for your entire event. However, it is completely negotiable and you do not need to pay this. Use our guide on how to remove AV house restrictions to see more on how to get rid of this fee.

Loading Dock Fees– This is a charge to use the venue loading dock, sometimes the fee is more for after hours. Ask your venue if there will be a fee to use their loading dock and what hours it is available.

Elevator Fees – A fee to use the elevators at the venue.

Using an outside AV company Fee – The venue can charge a fee for using outside company such as 25% of the contract. They may say you have to use their labor company because it is union. You have to be aware of these costs but there are ways out of this. Check out how to remove this in our guide to removing AV house restrictions.

Deposits, Permits, and Beyond

Damage Deposit – This deposit secures you in case something is damaged at your event. Most AV companies have it in the contract that if you are hiring them and anything is broken you are responsible. Draping is most commonly damaged rental item as it gets dirty quickly and people pull on it. Be careful and take care of items in your possession that you have rented. You are responsible for the equipment during the rental period. Lock up and secure all rooms when someone is not supervising the venue.

Permitting – Permitting can sometimes come as a surprise if you aren’t prepared. If you are not sure, ask if you need permits. Examples of what you might need permits for are shooting lasers into the sky or the location of the generator.  If you are using CO2 and haze ask the venue if it is ok. Some venues allow it and some do not. You could also need a permit or fire marshall if you are using haze and CO2. If you do be sure to ask what is the minimal amount of time a fire marshall is needed. Permits can cost money. They can also vary in the time needed for approval depending on what you need them. Make sure to do your research.

Engineering – You might need an engineer to see if the rigging can hold what you plan to place on it. Look at your contract if it says this is not included ask if they need it. If it is needed ask for it to be included in the estimate.

Floor covering – If you are using a scissor lift in a ballroom, on a basketball court, or in other places the venue may require you to protect the floor which can be an additional fee.

Cleaning fees – Planning to throw confetti at your event? You might get a huge bill at the end from the venue to clean it up. If you plan on doing something like confetti, or a balloon drop, basically anything that leaves behind a mess, ask the venue if it’s ok. Check if there will be a cleaning fee associated so you can budget ahead of time for this fee.

AV Fees: Conclusion

Hopefully, by now you have a better understanding of AV Fees and Infrastructure costs! Now you have the knowledge you need to ask questions and be prepared for any fees you might incur, and avoid unnecessary blows to your budget.

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Kaitlin Colston

Author Kaitlin Colston

Kaitlin Colston is the Content Alchemist at Endless Events — one of the leading publications in the events industry. With a passion for helping others and learning, she focuses on empowering eventprofs through content by sharing her knowledge gained from over 10 years in the events and marketing space.

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