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Last week, Will Curran, the founder of Endless Events, hosted a webinar, called ‘How Do You Avoid An Event AV Disaster?’. He divided the answer into eight useful tips that event planners can consider when working with their bespoke AV company. After all, the last thing you want to do is to settle on your audio-visual company.

We are all on the same team here in the events industry and your AV company should be there to help make your event the best it can possibly be. With that said, here’s how you can prepare for working with the AV company to make the most of your event.

Editor’s Note: This post was updated on May 5th, 2021 for clarity purposes.

Understanding The Quote Process

First things first, we need to talk about the quote process. It is always about winning the bid, so some companies will do anything to get the contract for the event – even if that means fibbing or skimping on the quote! Because of that, it’s important to always audit your AV budget and pay attention to the following facts.

AV Production Tips: Pay Attention To The Quote

Firstly, be aware that companies that will often times oversell equipment and then change it or substitute it for lower quality at the same price. For example, they will bill for a 48-channel digital console when only 4 wireless mics are being used, and then send out a 6 channel mixer instead.

You also need to keep in mind that you get what you pay for! If a quote seems extremely low in comparison to the majority of other bids, chances are something fishy is going on. It is not uncommon for companies to build a quote with unsafe or low-end gear to drop the price of the bid.

All the bells and whistles of an event are fun and can really wow an audience, but can rack up the cost of a show. AV companies will often leave out add-ons that they know your event could benefit from, just to bring the initial cost down for the bid, then add it on later in the show if it becomes a necessity.

Labor is one of those things that can be one of the largest costs on a show, depending on the size, but is absolutely necessary for a safe and timely setup. Be wary of quotes that have a low dollar amount for labor in comparison to other quotes!

And lastly, when a venue has a preferred provider, it is likely that the cost will be higher for you because of back-end deals and kick-backs to the venue for referrals.

Details In The Planning Process

The devil is in the details! Be prepared with accurate site diagrams, CAD drawings from the AV company, layouts, and/or measurements from walkthroughs (throw distance for projectors, ceiling height for structures, etc.).

Double check with the production company to be sure you have the venue scheduled for the adequate amount of time for the production team to load in and load out. Some companies will actually charge more for rushed setup and strike, especially if there are highly technical components to your specific event. A rule of thumb: in the perfect circumstances, it is always preferred to schedule load in for the day before the event and one day after the event for load out.

Avoid AV Production Disasters By Communicating Changes

Keeping constant communication with the AV team is absolutely vital to a smooth event. If you need a change, it is always better to notify the production team in advance. Better sooner than later! Don’t wait until the event is in full swing to express your wishes.

If talent is provided at the event, allow a direct line of contact between the production team and the performers. The less middle-people, the better!

Whenever there is a hiccup, have the production team explain the problem and solution in a way you can understand; no technical jargon that no-one but the production team can understand. You should be able to understand everything they’re saying, otherwise, chances are they’re trying to confuse you on purpose. This occurs more than you would think to help cover up a mistake and transfer blame to a highly-technical piece of equipment rather than making it seem like the AV team is at fault.

AV Team Involvement

You know those highly-classified meetings event planners have exclusively with their staff when planning an event? Invite the AV team to them! In most cases, production people are considered professionals in their field and know a lot more about AV than anyone on an event planning team does. They can help make your vision for the event become a reality if you give them a chance!

This can also help sort out any confusion and costly mistakes on the day of the event if you communicate your vision with the production team from early on.

Venue Negotiation & Planning For Power

AV production tips number five and six have to do with event venues. Venues can be sneaky and can cause a much larger headache for you than the entire event! Communicate all of the fine print and details to avoid racking up charges. For example: adequate power, rigging, babysitting fees for leaving the equipment at the venue overnight, and freight elevator fees.

Additionally, one of the most prevalent issues production teams experience when putting on events is not having the adequate power for production equipment. Will explained that this is what the AV guys have nightmares about before an event! Cross-reference the quote with the venue to get an estimate for power and to provide necessary power distributors.

Ask for a specific type of power (Edison vs. 3-phase) so the production team and venue can be on the same page. Do not be afraid to negotiate with the venue about power fees, often-times it can be thrown in for free!

Video & Image Content: The Most Common AV Production Disaster

Consult with the AV team before deciding on any sort of image and video content. After all, they know what will be best for the event!

Test all video formats prior to the show starting. If an image or video is only available online, find out if there will be Wi-Fi available at the venue. If not, do your best to have an offline source available.

Avoid AV Production Disasters: Don’t Neglect The AV Team!

Last but not least, don’t neglect the AV team! Like anyone else in the events industry, the AV team members are people, too. This means that we eat, get tired, need water, and love to hear when we are doing a good job! The least you can do is be aware of their limits; providing food (however small it may seem) is not a necessity, but it is always appreciated!

Technicians have names and do not go by “AV guy”. We understand that as event planners, your minds are all over the place and trying to remember names on top of everything is asking an awful lot, but it is always noticed when you try your best!

Take-aways are small tokens of appreciation that everyone loves! Our office is covered with posters, goodies, and little take-aways from past events we have worked. If you have any leftover swag, Will is assuring you that the AV team is going to be interested.

Want to learn more and watch the actual webinar? Click on the image below and sign up to watch the full-length webinar!

Austin Walker

Author Austin Walker

Austin is a man of many words, as expressed in the many blog posts he has thus published at Endless. What may not be evident about Austin, as seen from the readers' perspective, is that he is more-than-likely dancing, rather "busting a move," while working. And that, he takes all the pleasure in.

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