The world of AV quotes can be a complete jungle. And even for the seasoned event planners of the industry, AV, in particular, can get quite overwhelming. How are you supposed to know who to hire? Should you take a crash-course to get familiar with the lingo? And how can you make sure you are getting the best deal possible? Look, we hear you. Our company has been around for a while, and we understand how confusing this whole thing can be. This is why we put together Your Ultimate Guide To AV Quotes. Essentially, everything your heart desires when it comes to the inner-workings of the Audio Visual world for events.
We’ll cover all the basics you need to know before diving head-first into the world of AV. How to compare quotes, which questions you should ask your AV company, the most common mistakes…every single bit will be broken down to its bare bones so you can fully understand what’s happening. Plus, a few golden tips from the pros here at Endless Events. Make sure you check out our AV Quote Guide offer and feel free to navigate the jungle through this post. Happy learning!
AV Quotes: Start With The Essentials
We are fully aware that you can’t start building a house by the ceiling. So the best strategy you can adopt is to cover the basics first. There’s no use in jumping straight into auditing and comparing AV quotes if you don’t understand what you’re auditing and comparing.
The goal here is to begin your journey through the world of AV in the most seamless way possible. Just like any other thing you’d like to learn more about, it’s important that you don’t bite more than you can chew. Even if you think you already know the basics of AV quotes, you’ll be surprised by how many details surround it. And if your goal is to get the best deal that will both save you money and ensure a great event, you’ll want to cover the essentials. Especially before diving any deeper!
Top 5 Things To Know
So, you’ve made peace with the fact that you’ll have to start small in order to fully comprehend AV quotes. What’s the next step? To make things easier for you, we’ve broken down the top 5 things you need to know:
What’s An AV Quote?
AV quotes will always be part of an agreement. In every contract, an Audio Visual (AV) quote is the piece of a vendor agreement that has the dollars attached to it that breaks apart the projected cost of different materials. Keep in mind that AV quotes will come in various types of forms, excel documents and software.
How Do I Read AV Quotes?
Often times, AV quotes are confusing. Despite the differences in the formatting of quotes, every quote will contain similar major sections. This is the easiest way to navigate a quote, particularly if you get nice and familiarized with the different sections. These sections break down into various topics:
Audio. The audio section will contain all information related to sound including speakers, soundboards, amps and the sound system at the venue. You will want to make sure the materials included will provide sufficient volume for the size of the venue.
Video. The video section will contain information related to projection, sources, switching, and cameras.
Similar to the audio section, you will want to review the quoted materials with the venue to ensure the video projection hardware is compatible with the size of the event.
Lighting. The lighting section includes power distribution, truss rigging, and lights (surprise! Not).Misc: Miscellaneous materials you may need to plan for are staging, or pipe and drape.
Labor. Labor will include the various individuals who will operate each portion of your event. Examples include media technicians and an event crew. Media technicians work with AV delivery, pick-up, sound, lights, and video. An event crew’s responsibilities include moving around tables, chairs, and props. Often times labor positions and costs are not interchangeable.
Expenses. Examples of additional expenses could include travel, rooms, per diem, and shipping. The expenses section relates to the labor section based on the number of workers that will be needed to execute the event.
What Should Or Shouldn’t I See?
Within the AV quotes, all major items are listed. And major items include a projector, screen, or maybe a kit that says “video cable.” Smaller things aren’t normally listed or are shown as a kit or a system. For example, let’s say you see an audio workbox or projection system. This makes it difficult to compare different AV agreements.
So, when reviewing the kits/systems, make sure that it describes the goal and tells you a few pieces involved in making that happen. For instance, if a projector system is listed, it should say the type of projector, size, among other specifics. You should be able to understand whether the system will be compatible with your audience. You want to try and get as descriptive as you can and define what’s included in the system.
Who doesn’t love a good discount? We’re fully aware that incorporating AV into your event can get expensive quickly. It’s no surprise that many large events require various large promoters. There are, however, opportunities for some pricing flexibility. Much like any other thing involving your AV team, it’s all about clear and concise communication.
First, you will need to understand the discounts offered to you. For example, they could charge you for equipment for a 4-day week (of a 7-day rental) or a 25% discount. After doing the math, you will learn that both discounts are essentially the same thing. If you find out they charge you for 4 days, you may be able to negotiate that down to 2.5 days or increase to a 30% discount.
Policies vary between companies depending on the days charged and discounts offered. Labor positions are not typically interchangeable due to their specific skill sets. Union rules may also apply – be aware of that when looking at venue contracts.
If you compare companies, you will need to understand the equipment rental differences and costs. There are various resource sites, such as Projector Central, where you can look up specific projector names and information and get a sense of the capability and cost of these systems. This will give you a starting point to have a good conversation with the salesperson and give you a place to intelligently dig into the show and their thought process behind it. Remember, the goal here is to make an educated decision.
You will also want to take note of the frequency that you are charged. Often times companies charge by hours or days. If your quote breakdown is in days, you’ll want to define how long a day is. Because an AV day is not the same as a good old regular 24 hour day! Usually, the day is 10 hours. If it isn’t indicated, you might want to layout potential overtime needs and costs. This way, you can eliminate any hidden surprises. In the end, you’ll want to provide as much information as you can to get a more accurate AV quote.
A Comprehensive List Of Things To Clarify On Your AV Quote
Congratulations, you’ve officially covered the basics! You are one step closer to gathering a well-rounded notion of how to navigate the confusing world of AV quotes. The next thing we want to show you is a comprehensive list of points you’ll definitely want to clarify when being presented with a quote. We can’t stress enough how important it is that you establish clear and open communication with your AV company. At the end of the day, they are there to help! So you should feel free to ask all the questions you want. We suggest you start with these:
Single-day vs Multi-day
For multi-day events, it’s very important to ask if you are being charged for a single day or multiple days for your equipment. It’s important because unless their quote shows you what the single day-rate is, some vendors might be willing to give you a single day-rate for the equipment to match a competitor. It doesn’t hurt to ask, but similar to asking for a discount, be prepared to offer something in return. Don’t forget that business is a two-way street!
Does this quote include all of the costs and fees?
This might surprise you, but not all costs are included in some quotes. Shocking, but not the end of the world! It’s important to ask this and see what sort of scenarios would cause additional fees or costs to be added.
For example, some outside AV companies (non-in-house companies) will not include the power and rigging costs needed to pull off the setup they are selling you. And then you’ll be surprised when the hotel bills you. So, we recommend that all AV vendors make their quotes 100% inclusive of all of the costs so you, the client, can see the real cost of the event.
Do you recommend anything to make our event run more smoothly?
You always want your AV company to get your quote exactly within budget, right? Well, sometimes, this relentless desire to stay in budget means an AV company may leave out some optional but very helpful pieces of equipment. Let’s say their first quote comes in budget. But wouldn’t you be willing to spend an extra $200 to have that one piece of equipment that will make everything just flow and run more smoothly? Or provide your attendees with an unforgettable experience?
Chances are you would. But sometimes, to get you the lowest quote, an AV company will leave this out unless you ask for it. So go ahead and just make sure you ask!
Can you summarize the various areas of your contract?
Let us preface this by making it clear that we aren’t lawyers. And you should always consult your attorney before signing any agreements. However, when you first receive your quote, ask the company to summarize some of the main points of their contract. Is there a fee if we use a credit card? Do you have any insurance requirements?
Will I get hit with a fee if I wear green shoes? You know, important stuff, because hey, you never know. Getting these from the AV company will give you an idea of what they mean in layman’s terms before you have your attorney review it and for you to get an idea of how the company works for big things like payments, cancellations, late payments, confidentiality, and so on.
Equipment differences between quotes
When you get your second (or fifth) quote from an AV company, ask them to explain the difference between the specific pieces of equipment the other company chose, and theirs.
They should be able to explain it in simple layman’s terms that you understand. Remember, there is a difference in equipment and the AV company should be able to admit when the other company chose effective equipment, not just down talk about the competition. That is the opposite of having your best interests in mind.
Is staffing enough to satisfy your service expectations?
This can be a huge discrepancy between quotes sometimes. You might look at one quote and wonder why they gave you one AV technician, while the other company gave you three. Ask the company what their game plan is for the staff and how they will service your event. For example, if you have 10 breakout rooms, will 2 technicians roam and cover those 10 rooms? Or do you want to have 1 person in each room watching the AV needs like a hawk?
There isn’t anything wrong about these. But each definitely offers pros and cons. For example, the roaming technicians are definitely a cost-effective option. However, if there are too many simultaneous problems, they may not be able to service them all. Also, it takes a very experienced and efficient technician to solve problems quickly and move from room to room.
Now, having a technician in each room might be needed. Because you have a lot of activity happening in those rooms and you want to make sure they run flawlessly, which is worth the extra cost to you. Again, just ask what their game plan is and they can easily explain and make sure that matches what you are looking for.
How much power do you need for this?
This somewhat goes back to the question of “Does this include all of my costs and fees?”. For most small events, the AV company can tap into the walls into the outlets. But for some medium to larger events, the AV company is going to need additional power.
In addition to how much power you need, it is important to ask what type of power is needed. Because believe it or not, there are many types. A great follow up to how much power you are going to need is “Do I need to order that and pay for it or are you?” At Endless, we prefer to take care of the bill for the client. So if we need more power, the client doesn’t have to worry about it, we do.
Does this quote match the riders or the needs of the talent/speakers?
A rider is a set of requirements that talent or a speaker may require to do their performance or presentation. Everyone has heard the story of one artist asking for a bowl of just blue M&Ms. Chances are, your talent isn’t going to be that picky. But riders do serve a very important purpose – even though they may sound ridiculous at times.
While riders are completely negotiable, it is our personal belief that a rider serves an important purpose. And that is to create an atmosphere where the talent can do their best work! So sometimes, giving them what they want will allow them to do even better. However, it’s also easy for them to be forgotten. It’s important to make sure none of your talent has any riders or special requests. Ask your talent and presenters if there is anything they need. And then relay that to the AV team. Yes, sometimes these add extra costs. But ask your AV company to explain what a simple cost looks like, such as an adapter. And also what is ridiculous, like sharks with lasers on their heads.
What do I need to provide you with to make this all work?
The ideal answer to this question is nothing obvious. But sometimes, critical items can be left off of a quote. Either to save money or because the AV company doesn’t provide it. For example, who is providing the laptop to run the presentations? If you are having people bring their own laptops, is the AV company including all of the necessary video adapters?
An additional question to ask is who is providing the content. For instance, do you need to have a sponsor slideshow with logos? Are you making that or is the AV company? Ensure it is noted on your quote so there is no question of who is providing the content. Asking if there is anything you need to provide is very important. At Endless, whenever a client promises to provide something like a laptop or something else, we always make note of it on the quote so there is no dispute.
What is the format of the content? Powerpoint or Keynote? High definition or standard definition?
This might be the most technically overlooked part of events with some sort of presentation. If the AV company is providing the laptop, it becomes even more important. Knowing whether your presentations and content are going to be 16×9 (widescreen or sometimes also high definition) or 4×3 can make the difference between your presentations looking great, and looking, well, blah.
For example, if your AV company provides you 16×9 screens and all of your presentations are 4×3, you’ll have awkward blank spots on the sides of your presentation. With the reverse, you’ll have awkward blank bars on the top and bottoms of your screens. Lastly, if the AV company is providing the laptops for presentations, we would recommend they have Macs. The reasoning is most Macs have Keynote by default, but also most presentation laptops will also have Powerpoint. With a PC or Windows computer, they cannot run Keynote without converting it. It’s important to clarify what type of presentations will be shown.
How To Make Discounts Work
There needs to be some give and take when it comes to this. So if you like your AV vendor but you just really need to get the quote into a certain budget, it’s important to do the obvious and ask for a discount. We recommend telling the AV company what you need the quote to get to, and we’ll do our best.
Do not hide your desire for a quote through things like “well the other company said they’d do it for X” or sending our quotes out to other vendors and asking them to beat it. Just ask us what price you need and we’ll do what we can.
Give And Take
Now the question becomes, why would an AV company be willing to give you a discount? This is an important question to ask yourself when getting a discount. Does the AV company see long term potential in your relationship? Is there a large amount of availability and they would rather make some money versus no money? Are you a non-profit and they want to deduct your discount from their taxes?
When asking for a discount, it’s important to offer something in return. Most salespeople don’t want to give a discount, do a great job at the event, and then never be called again. So at a minimum, if you are getting a discount, and the AV company does a satisfactory job at the event, it is reasonable for that AV company to earn the next event and not have to “fight” to keep you as a client. Remember that giving a discount means that the AV company is missing out on an opportunity to make money. So think to yourself, if I were an AV company, how could I make up for this discount either in the short term or long term? Discounts should always have a large conversation around them full of clarification so every party is happy.
Take The Next Step: Why You Need an Initial Consult for Event AV
Not many people consider having an initial consultation with an AV company. Curiously enough, we’ve found that it’s staggeringly common for the AV side of things to be relegated to the bottom of the to-do list when planning an event. But trust us when we say that’s a major no-no! Having your AV team aligned with your goals, venue conditions, schedule, and more, it’s a fool-proof way to guarantee a seamless and successful event.
Still not convinced? Well, as your last stop in the Ultimate Guide To AV Quotes we invite you to take a look at not one, not five, but eleven reasons why you need an initial consult for event AV. Get ready to have your mind blown by the fact that just a simple, initial meeting, can actually make a world of a difference in the overall outcome of your event.
The Money Problem: AV Fees and Infrastructure Costs You Need To Know
Oh, the costs. Often the strongest headache and the biggest concern for event planners. And for pretty much everyone, but that’s beside the point. Here, we are focusing specifically on costs related to AV and infrastructure. Because it’s all too common that some sneaky extras are hiding in your AV quotes. And if you don’t know how to spot them, or your AV company isn’t exactly worried about letting you know…well, let’s just say your budget is going to suffer quite a bit.
So, these costs, in particular, are directly correlated with your venue. But here’s the kicker – when scouting a venue for an event, planners are looking for a number of different things. Obviously, this will depend on the type of event. But it’s usually about capacity, location, and even reputation. However, how often do you consider things like power and rigging? The answer here is probably not all too often. Let’s break down AV fees and infrastructure costs you need to be aware of.
Cable AV Fees
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.
The 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 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.
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 the generator will be.
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.
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 to 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 is covered with black cloth to make them more presentable, and to keep people from tripping on the legs. See the video below for a great demonstration of how a genie lift looks and works!
Rigging is one of the bigger AV costs you can incur on. 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 skimping on rigging. If you plan on rigging, plan on paying the professionals to avoid an event disaster.
Venue AV Fees
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.
Internet & WiFi Fee
Internet at events is no longer optional if you want it to be successful. 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.
Similar to the internet fee, a venue power fee can come to 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 phase (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 the last minute you can expect to be required to do a wire transfer to ensure the funds are on time.
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 set up. Venues often site quality assurance for the reason 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.
A fee to use the elevators at the venue.
Using an outside AV company Fee
The venue can charge a fee for using an outside company such as 25% of the contract. They may say you have to use their labor company because it is a union. You have to be aware of these costs but there are ways out of this.
Deposits, Permits and Beyond
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 the 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 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.
You might need an engineer to see if 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
If you are using a scissor lift in a ballroom, on a basketball court or other places the venue may require you to protect the floor which can be an additional fee.
Planning to throw confetti at your event? You might get a huge bill at the end of 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.
The Road To An Unforgettable Event: What To Ask Your AV Company
Do you know what’s great? Asking questions. And this stands true for all people, from all walks of life. Far too often, we choose to remain quiet when we don’t understand something for fear of seeming ignorant. But where does true ignorance lie? Is it in the person who’s not afraid to search for further knowledge or in the one who stays silent and goes on to remain ignorant? Look, we know this sounds a bit too philosophical. But we’re actually trying to make a point when it comes to AV quotes.
Don’t be scared to ask questions. If you do, how are you supposed to know what’s happening? And how are you supposed to know that the AV quote the company has put in front of you is the best possible deal? There’s no other way but to ask, even if they are the simplest of questions. Roll up your sleeves, put your professional face on, and go meet your AV company with an impeccable set of questions ready to be fired their way. Here are our top recommendations:
Can you walk me through the quote?
Let’s face it unless you’re an AV pro, your quote may look confusing to you. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Make sure the AV company walks you through your quote! AV companies should be able to justify every piece of equipment on the quote. They should also explain it all in layman’s terms. Far too often, AV companies just send you a quote and expect you to understand it (or maybe they hope you don’t and just go with it). Unless you have a lot of AV experience under your belt, it’s hard to understand what every line means. It’s even harder to understand how it impacts the overall vision of your event.
How much does this line item affect my budget overall?
If you see an item in your quote that seems expensive and you aren’t sure why ask about it! It may be a crucial item, or it might be something you can switch out.
See what the difference would be if you change your equipment to a lower model. Maybe you have a $2000 projector on your quote and you could go down to a lower lumen projector to save perhaps $500 per projector. Perhaps you would save money but maybe you will have worse event experience and people won’t be able to see your presentations. Or maybe you think you need something for your event but could accomplish the same effect with another less expensive alternative. If you have a great AV team they will guide you through this process and suggest what you can cut and what you absolutely should not cut to maintain your vision.
If you are on a budget crunch ask, how can we accomplish the same things but save money?
When approaching AV, know your numbers! Have a conversation about the budget. Ask what you can do to keep the experience you desire. See if there is anything you could get rid of without changing the experience of the event or what is a must-have.
Don’t let the AV company get back to you with a new quote later, instead, you should expect your AV company to walk through the quote with you. They should explain what the differences are in your new quote from the previous version. If you are cutting the budget it’s likely it will be changing the experience even if only slightly. Your AV company should be clear on this and explain the differences. It’s important everything is very clear about what you are getting and what you will be missing if you cut corners.
Questions to Ask Your AV Company On Gear
Is this new technology?
New tech can be great and exciting. Often adding something people will remember at your event. However, you want it to stand out and be memorable for the right reasons, not because of any disasters! Ask if any of the technology in your quote is new. If it is new, ask if it is proven to work well. Also, check to make sure they are not just giving something to you because it’s the latest and greatest thing. Ask why they are using it. They may have something older that is proven to work well without the glitches often seen in new technology at a smaller price tag which would work just fine for your event. An older version can help cut your costs as well if the budget is tight.
Can I do better than this equipment?
AV companies love to hang on to gear to make as much profit as possible. AV equipment such as audio mixers and speakers don’t become outdated very fast and can last a very long time. Sometimes, they will give you the old equipment if they have it to make more profit. However, in most cases, you can get new and leading technology for the same price.
You shouldn’t have to compromise on your equipment quality. Always ask your AV team if there is a better model of the equipment. For example, a camera from 2010 when HD just came out and a camera from 2017 HD camera are very different, both would work but the newer model would absolutely serve you best.
Why did you choose that piece of equipment?
Ask your AV team why they chose a certain type of speaker? Is it because it’s the most functional for your event or is it their most profitable rental? While a concert line array is impressive if you have a small meeting or gathering it could be overkill. Make sure they explain the reasoning for their choices so you know you have the best option for your event.
General Questions to Ask Your AV Company
How long have you been in business?
You want to make sure that the AV company you select are professionals. AV is not something you want to skimp on. It could ruin your event if it is not done correctly. If you hire a company with minimal experience they may be guessing their way through your event. Perhaps they can’t get their lights to work. Or maybe they don’t meet your expectations, leaving you with a less than stellar experience. In a worst-case scenario, they may not be fully knowledgeable when it comes to structural setups or power which could result in serious injuries. Check to see what kind of events the company has done, and what experience they have.
What differentiates you from your competition?
Most AV & event production companies aren’t enjoyable to work with. As mentioned earlier, maybe they didn’t walk you through your quote, and you have no idea what you were getting. Or when issues pop up, they play the blame game instead of fixing the issue. AV companies can really blend together. Don’t be afraid to ask your potential companies what makes them stand out!
What would you recommend to maximize the experience?
Ask your AV company their opinions. Any great AV company will tell you where you absolutely should not skimp. If it will be damaging to cut from your event your AV company should let you know and explain WHY. On the other hand, they should also be able to suggest where you could cut if needed that would not make as much of a difference at your event but help you with the budget.
A great AV team will also make suggestions for improvement. Perhaps they suggest adding something neat you have never heard of to really wow your guests! Or maybe you didn’t realize that you might need larger screens for those attendees in the back to be able to see the speaker’s presentation. They are there to help you spot these changes ahead of time to make your event amazing.
The Day of The Event
What compatibility issues, if any, could there be with the visual presentations?
Make sure that your AV Company lets you know ahead of time what type of cable connections you will need on devices. If it was not explained, ask what screen ratios your projectors will be. This is extremely important to let speakers know ahead of time so their presentations will be viewed in the optimal ratio. Knowing whether your presentations and content need to be 16×9 (widescreen or HD) or 4×3 (standard definition) can make the difference between your presentations looking great or like a mistake.
Who is the main point of contact?
Make sure you are put in contact with your event manager. This will be the person on your AV team who manages everything at your event to ensure flawless execution. Unlike the techs who are focused on the technical side of the equation (lighting, sound, etc), the event manager can focus their attention on you. They will act on your behalf and communicate your needs to the right person. You’ll have a much better experience with an event manager at your event and by your side.
Asking these questions to your AV company will play a crucial role in ensuring you have made the right choices for your event. It will also help you choose the perfect AV company for you! Remember, if a company will not break down quotes and explain everything to you, line by line it’s time to walk away. Your AV company should be your partner in creating the atmosphere you desire for your event. They should be there to make suggestions and help you make your event the best possible!
Get The Best Deal: How To Compare AV Quotes
And so we’ve arrived at one of the most interesting parts of the world of AV – comparing AV quotes. As the smart and curious event planner that you are, you won’t settle for just contacting a single AV company. At least if it’s the first time you are hiring one, or if you had a bad experience with a previous supplier. So you venture into the various offers and options that the world has to offer. In the end, you’re left with two or more quotes that you’ll want to compare.
But where do you even begin? You’re probably certain that you don’t know the first thing about comparing AV quotes. And we are willing to bet that you’d be tempted to just look at the final price, decide based on that, and call it a day. The best advice we can give you is don’t do it! While you should always feel comfortable enough to ask the AV companies to compare the quotes for you (and trust they’ll be unbiased), you can also learn how to do it yourself.
We’ve been in the business for quite a while. And not only have we done thousands of quote walkthroughs with clients and helped them compared quotes, but we have also hired AV companies ourselves. So we have all the inside information and secrets that you need to help you learn exactly how to compare quotes. Here is what you should keep in mind:
Apples To Apples
The first concept we want to discuss is when comparing quotes make sure you are comparing apple to apples. You’ll hear this a lot when comparing AV vendors (for example, AV company A vs AV company B). For example, AV company B might ask what exact equipment AV company A is providing so they provide an identical quote with the same equipment. Apples to apples is the idea that in order to provide a realistic pricing comparison between A & B, it’s important to know exactly how the other company has structured their quote.
That does NOT mean the AV company B needs the pricing from A. When creating quotes, there are hundreds if not thousands of options for equipment, and while there are some common industry standards, there can be a huge amount of difference in the equipment chosen. So when you compare AV quotes, look at the specific equipment and make sure it matches up to the identical model in the quote you are comparing it to and if not, ask how it compares.
Brand Does Matter
Did you know that generic pharmaceutical drugs are just as effective as brand names? This is due to laws that require them to be as equally as effective. You can save a lot of money going with the generic choice over the brand, however, this does not apply to AV equipment, and brand DOES matter.
Make sure you are aware of what the warning sign brands are, and what companies are known for providing excellent equipment. You will be able to tell the quality brands because when you search for them on Google, the top industry publications in AV will be discussing them and their use in the largest events.
Generic Equipment Descriptions
Have you ever gotten a quote that just says “2 wireless microphones?”. Beware of this! Similar to the above points, if they don’t give you a brand or model at all, how will you be able to compare AV quotes apples to apples? Often companies do this because then they can put the cheaper gear on your event when really you were paying the price of the nicer equipment. Sometimes companies will be VERY vague with their equipment names. Having generic equipment descriptions does not allow you to compare apples to apples and also it does not give you an exact idea of what you are paying for.
Not All Labor Is Created Equal
When comparing your quotes, be sure to look at the staff they have designated for your event. Will someone be there during the event to run everything? Do you have a single point of contact such as an event manager or do all of the technicians report to you? Sometimes labor can add up to a large number quickly so don’t be afraid to ask why they chose that many technicians and stagehands. Sometimes less staff might mean the setup/teardown takes longer.
All The Small Things
Let us explain why it’s important to see everything on your AV quote, even the bolts, which are free, and you don’t even pay for. For example, at Endless, our quoting system ties into our inventory. So when we sell something, it’s based on what is in our inventory and when we confirm an event, we’ll “pull” the equipment out of inventory so that way we don’t oversell. But also because everything is barcoded in our system when you see 4 bolts on the quote, you’ll have 4 bolts at your event and that insures you can hold us accountable for what you paid for but also that nothing is forgotten. So don’t be afraid to ask how a company does their inventory, because forgotten equipment can be a serious problem if they don’t manage it properly.
Another point to make is charging for small things versus not charging. For example, some companies will charge you for cables while others will not. While these hardly affect the budget drastically, some people are can be caught off guard if they see this. Typically this will not affect your total budget very much as the cables cost you about 75 cents each (again pricing depends per company) but you can see how this might add up to $30 for your entire event.
As a vendor, sometimes you first try a quote that isn’t lower than the other guy. However, if the client likes how we do business, they will give us a second shot at building a quote. During this second shot, it’s helpful for the AV company to know the exact number you want them to get below and for you to ensure them it’s apples to apples to ensure we are truly comparing apples to apples.
If you like a company but their price isn’t low enough, give them a second chance and they may make sacrifices to win your business. However, as we’ve mentioned before, remember giving in return is important in this.
Don’t Do It Wrong: The Biggest Event AV Mistakes
Mistakes, we’ve all made a few. That’s a nice nod to Frank Sinatra right there. But the point is, making mistakes is human. And it’s often what leads us to learn, and how to avoid making them again in the future. Lucky for you, our team has been working in the world of AV for long enough to have made all the mistakes in the book. And we decided to share them with you!
This is the perfect roadmap to ensure everything related to your event AV runs smoothly. Not only have we made our fair share of mistakes, but we’ve also witnessed first-hand how commonly planners make the same ones. Over and over again, often resulting in extremely unwanted consequences. Whether that’s extra costs or malfunctions during the event, these consequences never bring anything good to the table. And the worst part is just how easily these mistakes could be avoided!
And that is the end of your Ultimate Guide To AV Quotes! Hopefully, by the time you reach this section, you already feel like you’re well on your way to become somewhat of an expert on AV quotes. Once again, we invite you to check out our AV Quote Guide offer to make sure you go the extra mile. Now go and tackle the world of AV quotes!