concertThe 30,000 person filled stadium roared with anticipation as the lights began to dim. 5 months later we had exceeded our expectations, all because of a cup of coffee and our av quotes.

It all began one sunny afternoon in July. The weather was so nice that the last thing that anybody wanted to do was work indoors. We knew we had an event to begin planning, but that was the last thing on our mind. The event wasn’t until December, anyway.

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We had our vendor booked, and as 4pm rolled around, we finally heard back from our AV company. They had sent us the av quotes that appeared to have all the “normal” equipment that we always saw. Eager with anticipation for our afternoon bike ride, we skimmed over the AV quote, signed our names, and made our way out of the office.

Many times event planners assume all AV quotes are equal and skim past the details. In fact, it isn’t until the event day comes that they wish they had spent a little more time reviewing the details. Jon Trask breaks down an AV quote in his webinar about Contracts: Audiovisual & speakers. Below I will outline the top 5 things you need to know about AV quotes and event pricing based on Jon’s webinar. Also, you will learn how coffee could affect the turn-out of your event.

1. What is an AV quote?sound-board

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. The items below will be the key points within an AV quote.

2. How do I read AV quotes?

Often times AV quotes are confusing. Despite the differences in formatting of quotes, every quote will contain similar major sections. The sections bread down into the various topics listed below.

[Tweet “Regardless of the company, all AV quotes should contain an audio, video, lighting, labor and expenses section.”]
  • speakerAudio. The audio section will contain all information related to sound including speakers, sound boards, amps and the sound system at the venue. You will want to ensure 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 for the size of the event.
  • Lighting. The lighting section includes power distribution, truss rigging, and lights (naturally).
  • conferenceMisc: Miscellaneous materials you may need to plan for are staging, or pipe and drape. Note: If your event has multiple entrances/stages, you will need to account for the variations here.
  • 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 amount of workers that will be needed to execute the event.

3. What should/shouldn’t I see?

projectorWithin the AV quote, all major items are listed. What is a major item? Major items include 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, you may see audio workbox or projection system. This makes it difficult to compare different AV agreements. When reviewing the kits/systems, make sure that it describes the goal and tells you a few pieces involved in making that happen. For example, if a projector system is listed, it should say the type of projector, size, etc. You should be able to understand whether the system will be compatible for your audience. Ultimately, try and get as descriptive as you can and define what’s included in the system.

You might ask yourself, why isn’t everything listed? Ultimately, the AV quote lists items that are charged for. Therefore, a comprehensive list of all the materials needed that are not charged for would be overwhelming.

4. Discount Opportunitiesmoney

Undoubtedly, incorporating AV into your event can get expensive quick. It’s no surprise why many large events require various large promoters. There are, however, opportunities for some pricing flexibility. First, you will need to understand the discounts offered to you. For example, they could charge you for equipment for a 4-day week (off a 7 day rental) or 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.

[Tweet “Asking questions and detail digging can save you money on your event!”] Policies vary between companies depending on 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.

4. Compare Costs

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 sales person and give you a place to intelligently dig into the show and their thought process behind it. Ultimately, you want to make an educated decision.

[Tweet “Projector Central is a widely used resource site to compare different pieces of equipment.”] 

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 break down is in days, you’ll want to define how long a day is. Often times a day is 10 hours. If it isn’t indicated, you might want to lay out potential overtime needs and costs to try and eliminate any hidden surprises. In the end, you’ll want to provide as much information as you can to get a more accurate quote. More information can be found under 5 things you need to clarify on your next av quote.

latte5. How Coffee Saved the Day

My coworkers and I came into the office to find a cup of coffee spilled over the entire first page of the AV quote. In an effort to save the quote, we re-typed the entire first page. At that time we noticed that we were significantly overcharged for equipment that was insufficient for our needs. If the coffee had not spilled on the AV quote, we would have over paid for an AV rental that would have ended in a very disappointing event. And this is how coffee saved the day.

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Katie Christianson

Author Katie Christianson

Katie has been involved in the events industry for years! When she is not working, she enjoys working out, riding motorcycles and walking her wiener dog, Holly. She is passionate about traveling and learning about new cultures and hopes to experience living in many different countries. Katie values a hard work ethic, a light-hearted personality and a good pun.

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