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Oh, event AV costs. Just when event planners thought they had enough to think about, the question arises. And it’s no secret that when event profs go to sleep, their dreams consist of a series of jumping quotes, venue possibilities, key-note speakers to snatch … So when you have to add event AV costs to the equation, some smoke might start coming out of your head. But while we can’t exactly sugarcoat this for you – because AV costs aren’t linear – we can definitely help you out. And this is why we put together a handy guide to event AV costs.

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How can you make sure you’re working with the best? Are there any ways you can save on AV? And what are some negotiation strategies that can help you get an incredible deal? All of this and more is what you’ll find here, courtesy of the pros at Endless Events. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be surprised at how much your understanding of event AV costs improved. So make sure you check out our Quote Calculator offer and get learning!

Working With The Best: Don’t Settle For Your AV Company

Before we dive into more technical details about event AV costs, we have to talk about AV companies in general. A crucial step in building a successful event is working with the best. And this, of course, includes the AV company you’re signing a contract with. In this regard, it’s easy to fall into doing the same thing over and over again when planning events. We get that you’re incredibly busy as it is, and looking at something that seems okay, there’s really no reason to try and fix it. Well, the problem here is that you settle and become complacent with your vendors, choosing the ones you’ve been working with forever.

But don’t you think it’s worth re-evaluating your partnerships in the name of an incredible event? Don’t forget that you deserve to sit at the table with the best of the best in the industry. Ditching the mentality of “why fix what isn’t broken” is the best thing you can do when the time comes to choose your partners! So are you settling on your audiovisual company? Maybe this isn’t something you’ve thought about in the past. Here are some signs that you just might be going down this slippery slope – and for the complete list and extra tips, make sure you check out the full article!

Time: You Just Don’t Have Enough Of It

We said it several times, but it’s definitely worth repeating – event planners are some of the busiest people out there. And here at Endless, we love nothing more than to preach the importance of taking care of yourself and your health to avoid burnout! But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to stick to your current AV company because you don’t have the time to find a better one. In fact, have you ever wondered that your current AV company is yet another reason why you’re stressed?

In the long run, working with the right company will save you more time, money, and headaches. What sounds like a better investment: having a partner that is client-faced and professional or one that consistently underdelivers on time and quality, forcing you to always go back and forth?

You Don’t Know Your Event Well Enough

Being comfortable is something that, as human beings, we consistently strive for. And this rings true in all areas of life, including work. So when you’ve had your AV company for so long, you tend to get complacent. After all, they know everything about your event – they do it every year, they know exactly what you’ll want and how everything works. And it might even reach a point where they know your own event better than you. But that’s not a good thing!

If your AV company senses that you’re too comfortable, they’ll slack off big time. The biggest risk here is that they’ll stagnate and underdeliver, jeopardizing the success of your event. So it’s extremely important that you stay up to date with design trends, technology trends, and make a point to communicate your goals clearly. This is your event, and you’re at the forefront of it! It’s not up to the AV team to take control of every single aspect, but empower you to do so.

Your Knowledge On AV Is Lacking

We’ve been working in the field of event AV for several years. So trust us when we say, we know exactly how confusing it can be. There are so many terms, the lingo seems to be all over the place, and when it gets technical … oh boy, can things get fuzzy! And this might be a reason why you’re tempted to stick to your current company.

Maybe you’re aware that you’re not exactly working with the cream of the crop. But because AV can come across as something so incredibly complex, you prefer sticking to it either way. Our advice here is simple – don’t! Take it upon yourself to learn about event AV and get educated on the subject as much as you can. At the end of the day, it’s going to be a great investment, because it will allow you to see through the smoke and mirrors of vendors, and ultimately make the best choice for your event.

The Options Are Slim Because You Waited Too Long

With so many details jumping around your head, it’s only natural that you run out of time quickly. And when this happens, the things that were relegated to the back of your mind suffer the most. One of the biggest reasons so many people settle for their AV company is because they simply waited too long to book one, and now they’re stuck with what’s left.

But making a habit out of booking your AV company early is absolutely crucial to the success of your event. Firstly, because the best of the best will book up very fast – sometimes even years in advance. And secondly, because the AV professionals you choose to work with can actually make a significant difference in the choice of the right venue. They are aware of things like power placement, rigging points, the Internet, and so on. But if you let time pass by and wait too long, you’ll be forced to work with who is available, as opposed to who will work side by side with you to produce an incredible event.

You Tried Others In The Past And Didn’t Enjoy The Experience

When it comes to your reputation as an event planner, the quality of your events is paramount. This is why it’s understandable the resistance some have to experiment with something new. What if it ruins the experience for the attendees? What if everything turns out horrible and everyone’s expectations are ruined?

Especially if you took a leap of faith in the past with your vendors and it went sideways, doing it again can be scary. Settling for your current AV company might seem like a better option than to risk your event altogether. But remember that great things only happen if you put in the effort to make them happen – even if there’s some risk attached.

They’re Okay With You Sharing Nothing But Your Budget

There are very few industries in which details play such a big part as in the events industry. But how many times do you apply this to your AV company? If you’re working with a company that just takes your event budget without asking questions and magically comes up with a quote that matches that number, you might want to rethink the partnership.

A good AV company will want to know what your goals and vision for the event are. They’ll want to get the bigger picture so that they can offer you the best deal that will ensure the success of your event – not just worry about matching a quote to the budget. When it comes to events, you can’t just look at the bottom line, and the same applies to AV.

Event AV Costs: How Much Does It Amount To?

AV quotes include plenty of things. From lighting to sound and labor, brands and equipment, there’s a lot to be mindful of. So, how much does event AV cost? And how can you fully understand it? We have a few things that will help you understand the bottom line of your AV quote. Make sure you head onto the full article to read the complete list!

The Price Of Equipment

There is something that we like to call the 10% rule, which relates to the cost of buying a piece of equipment. This means that whatever the price of something is, the AV company is probably charging you 10% of what it cost to buy it. This, of course, can vary a little bit and depends on the lifespan of the equipment, but it’s a good rule of thumb to keep in mind.

Another thing that you should know relates to older versus newer equipment. Obviously, older equipment will cost less than the updated version because the AV company has already made its money back. Now, whether or not going for older equipment for the sake of budget is something you want to risk, that should be up to you and your AV company.

On the note of equipment, let’s also discuss brands. Brands, like in most things, matter! You might find a cheaper version of a piece of equipment that perfectly suits your needs. But you also know that you’re not exactly getting the same quality you would if you went for a more costly brand. if you’re not sure what the best option is here,  again, talk to your AV company! They should be able to explain to you the difference between brands and in what situations it pays off to invest in the most expensive ones.

Labor Expenses

Labor rates are often some of the hardest to understand if you’re not familiar with all the things that go into it. For starters, what you can expect is anything from $50 to $100 an hour, depending on the company you’re working with and the region. And when it comes to labor, it’s important to touch upon full-day and half-day rates, because everything is billed accordingly.

A full day usually consists of 10 hours, even though this depends on the region. So if your event goes on for seven hours, you’ll still be charged the full-day rate, which is 10 hours. And half-day rates consist of 5 hours, which means labor is billed at that half-day rate. The trick with the labor rates is to always round up to the nearest fifth or tenth. So if your event is 12 hours long, round up to 15. If your event is nine hours, round up to 10. If your event is 28 hours, round up to 30. And that’s the gist!

Event AV Costs: How To Save Money

Event planners always keep their budgets in mind. And one of the things they’re most concerned about when it comes to AV is money – and how to save as much of it as possible without sacrificing the quality of the event.

And this is tricky! Event planning within a budget is no small task. So if you’re wondering what the best ways to reduce event AV costs are, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading to know some of the top tips to save money, and make sure you check out the full article to get a holistic idea of what reducing event AV costs really looks like!

Requirements: Make Them Clear And Evident!

We’ve already highlighted how important it is that you offer as many details as possible to your AV company upon requesting a quote. Providing them with your budget isn’t going to cut it if you want your Av quote to come out as detailed as possible, and as customized as they can make it! Plus, the clearer you are with your requirements, the least likely it will be that your quote includes additional costs in labor and equipment that simply aren’t necessary.

Again, we want to make sure you understand the importance of booking your AV company early. This is the most fool-proof way to ensure that the team has enough time to prepare things that meet your requirements and amount to a successful event. Plus, if you’re one of the first in, the bigger the odds that you’ll have the best equipment and the best people at your disposal!

Build A Good Relationship With The AV Company

What’s the foundation of events if not successful relationships? Building good, long-lasting relationships with your vendors goes a long way. You’ll be surprised at how many perks come along when you establish a great relationship with your AV company. Some of these benefits even translate into saving money on event AV. For instance:

  • Potential discounts for ongoing work
  • The right services every time
  • Leverage their expertise
  • Remember to treat them as partners
  • Leverage client brands into savings
  • Consider packages

Negotiation Goes A Long Way

Business partnerships thrive when both parties negotiate terms that serve them both equally and ensure the success of the business venture. And this goes for your relationship with your AV company too! For instance, one of the best things you can do when hiring an AV company is offering to pay upfront. Not only will you stand out from other clients that pay several weeks after the event, but you’ll also come off as a very attractive partner. And this means the potential for a discount!

If you’re wondering how you can lower event AV costs, one of the most important things you should do is request a quote walkthrough. You’ll be able to comprehend everything that the company is offering you, and if you take the time to learn the ins and outs of AV, you’ll also be armed with enough knowledge to call out things that seem excessive or aren’t necessary.

How To Instantly Scale Down An AV Quote That’s Over Budget

While we strongly advise you to take the time to educate yourself about the world of AV, we understand that there are instances where time can’t be stretched. So we also want to share with you some extra tips on how to scale down an AV quote that is over budget, aside from negotiating. There are specific aspects of an event you can trim down instantly, such as:

  • Make sure you aren’t over-crewed
  • Downgrade lighting
  • Review camera needs
  • Review microphone needs
  • Consider a ground-supported sound system

Creative Ideas For Reducing Event AV Costs

Leverage Other Events

It’s not unheard of for another team of event planners to go ahead and start getting everything ready while another event is still taking place. Maybe you’ve done it before, maybe you’ve seen it happen. And while this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense if the set-ups are completely different, there is a way you can piggyback on other events when it comes to venue space.

If the set-up is similar, it does make sense that you take advantage of an event booked back-to-back with yours. This is a good way to save both time and money! So make sure you go ahead and call the venue where your event will be taking place and ask whether or not other events will be happening around the time frame you’re interested in. Get in contact with the right people and see whether or not you can leverage another event for your advantage.

Breakout Session Setup: Be Imaginative

One of the things that are more likely to increase expenses is the AV requirements for breakout sessions. The best strategy here is to ensure the equipment you’ll be requesting aligns with the expectations you have for the session. This is another case where assumptions are dangerous! Instead of assuming the needs of your speakers, ask them right off the bat.

On a different note, be conscious of how much production should go into your breakout rooms. Only one in five or one in ten likely require a spectacular setup, so plan the schedule in such a way that the breakouts that need a high level of production can get the most out of these rooms. We suggest you go for a single large overflow room, instead of several for each session.

Negotiating Event AV Costs

And so we’ve reached what might be the trickiest part of reducing event AV quotes – negotiating. Now, as we’ve mentioned before, negotiations are a pivotal part of any business relationship. Both parties must discuss the best way to get what they both want is, keeping their best interests in mind, and without sacrificing their ultimate goal. So yes, quite tricky!

But here’s the thing – it’s not impossible. You want to get the best AV to ensure the success of your event. And the AV company wants to cultivate a good relationship with you, offer great service, while keeping the business alive and thriving. So how can you win at negotiating AV prices for your event? Keep reading for some of the best tips and suggestions, and make sure you read the full article to learn how you can become a master at negotiating event AV costs!

Educate Yourself On AV Lingo

It’s more than normal that each sector and industry use their own terminology and lingo. Unfortunately, many companies might use this as a strategy to confuse their potential customers. Throwing around complex terms in a word-vomit that makes your head spin can be a way an AV company uses to fool you into incurring extra costs. This is why we once again urge you to get familiar with the world of AV and to make an effort to understand the lingo. Otherwise, it gets very tricky for you to feel confident in asking the right questions about what is included in your quote.

But let’s say you are simply too short on time and don’t have the time to get educated on the specifics. Well, thankfully, we live in the age of technology and search engines! If there’s an item or term you don’t understand in your quote, simply ask Google. And because technology is ever-evolving, new AV equipment is consistently being introduced. This makes it extra complicated to be on top of things. So don’t be afraid to ask our good friend the search engine! Not only does it tell you what something is, but it also shows you whether or not you’re getting state-of-the-art, updated equipment.

And that’s not all! Google also shows you pictures of everything, so you’ll be able to recognize them as soon as you arrive at the venue. This way you’ll be able to notice if there’s something extra there or if something is missing. No AV company can fool you now!

Establish Payment Terms Ahead

We touched upon this briefly, but it’s a concept worth revisiting because it’s one of the best ways to reduce event AV costs. Companies love it when you’re willing to be open-minded in regards to payments. Since the most common practice is for AV companies to get paid several weeks after the event took place, other options will make them warm up to you more.

Let’s say you offer to pay everything upfront or at least a good chunk of it. This is when AV companies will probably be inclined to offer you a nice discount, giving you enough leverage to negotiate prices. And on a similar note, you must make sure the final number of your AV quote includes enough equipment and the possibility of overtime. We say this. After all, it’s not uncommon for planners to get a hefty bill after the event because it ran overtime or something wasn’t accounted for.

Be The Captain Of Your Own Ship And Make Good Decisions

Let’s now jump into a scenario where just so happen to have several quotes that you need to compare. If you want to negotiate prices, there are a couple of great strategies you can employ when you’re comparing different quotes.

Apples To Apples

Here’s the thing about AV quotes – just because you asked for the same thing of different companies, it doesn’t mean you’ll be looking at the same items when the time comes to compare two quotes. This is why we preach the “apples to apples” mentality, so you don’t think you’re getting the same services and equipment.

The goal here is to look at the details (surprise, surprise!). Just because the price of something seems more appealing, it doesn’t mean it’s the best offer for you. Not all projectors are the same, not all lighting equipment is the same, and so on so forward. Sometimes the quality is better, and that’s why it’s pricier. But at the end of the day, it will be the best option for your event! So, adopt the “apples to apples” mentality when comparing quotes.

Different Approach

Imagine that you get two quotes that differ in the price point but you can’t exactly figure out why the difference is there. Something you can do is remove the brand from the cheapest option and share it with the other AV company. This is nothing to be scared of if you take the correct approach to the process. The vendor that gave you the quote with the highest price point has to know how to explain why the difference in the price is there.

Use this strategy to make the best final decision, and not as a way to get the company with the highest quote to drive down the numbers. Remember that a truly good vendor will know exactly how to tell you why that price is there and can’t be lowered, and walk away if they must. Such a company clearly knows what they’re worth and the value they can add to an event.

Signs You May Need To Increase Your AV Budget (& How To Get Approval)

Okay, so we’ve covered the best strategies to reduce event AV costs and the best strategies to negotiate prices. But sometimes, you might need to take a step back and realize that you need to increase your AV budget. There are many reasons you might feel you need to do this. Whether you’re looking to improve quality or add the newest piece of technology to your event, there’s no shortage of valid reasons for you to want those numbers on the bottom line to go up.

And if we’ve been preaching the importance of AV for your event, it’s only natural we touch upon this. Saving money and respecting your budget should always be a priority. But if the opportunity to make your event even better arises, maybe you should pay attention. Even if that means asking your boss for an increase in budget! Take a look at some of the telling signs you might need an increase in your AV budget and how to get approval – but make sure you read the full article to get the complete scope on the subject!

You Have Your Eye On A Better, More Expensive Company

Let’s say you read through our “are you settling for your AV company” section and realized you need to take your event AV game up a notch. Maybe you did a little research and are now up to date with all the newest trends that can make your event pop. And maybe your current vendor simply isn’t able to answer your new-found needs, no matter how clearly you explain your vision. Bottom line is, the AV company you currently have simply isn’t going to cut it, and you need to find the right people for the job. But here’s the kicker – you know that finding a team like this will definitely be more expensive. What to do?

Tackling It

Don’t worry, not all is lost just because you are now aware that the AV company you set your sights on will cost you more. There are certain things you should keep in mind to tackle this problem. For one, go to the AV company and ask them to be precise and actionable by showcasing in specific terms how and why they are the best choice for your event. Let them take the lead on this and be the ones to explain all the benefits they can bring! Maybe their technicians are the best in the field, or their equipment just can’t be matched. Whatever it is, if they can sell themselves by showing instead of telling, getting approval for a budget increase from the people in charge will be a lot easier.

Technology Is Calling Out To You

The best professionals in the events industry are always on top of the biggest trends, including technology. And while having everything new at your event probably isn’t the best way to go about it, it’s only natural to want some of the latest and greatest. Especially where tech is concerned – attendees tend to flock to events that make new and exciting things a part of the experience. Just make sure you are clear on your vision and goals and why you want to implement these things in the first place.

Building Your Case

Since we live in a world where data is the Queen, make sure you leverage this to your advantage. Put on your researcher hat and gather all the best data points that will help build your case. And make sure you use your AV company to your advantage! They typically have access to case studies and papers where the role of a certain technology is clearly described – and why its implementation ultimately leads to an incredibly successful event.

Take it to the next level and request the highest-skilled people from your AV company to sit in a meeting with you and the decision-makers. No matter how much data you gather, at the end of the day, they are the experts. And they are the ones who can persuade the higher-ups to make this investment, simply because they either saw it happen or have the knowledge on how this can elevate your event. Visualization is key here – the attention of your boss has to be on seeing how this will be a great investment, as opposed to just staring at the final number and dollar signs.

Always Add For An Annual Margin

We see how this one might be hard to hear, but there is a reasoning behind it. As you’re well aware, expectations for your event only keep going up with each year that passes. And this means that the overall cost of your event is likely to go up as well. Maybe you decided to go with a new and improved venue, a more expensive destination, or union labor. If you prepare for costs like this, it makes sense that you get ahead by preparing for an increase in AV costs.

And it’s not even a certainty that you’ll have to dig into this budget increase, in which case, more power to you! You can use those extra bucks for something else or just save it. If it just so happens that a little way down the road you come across an aspect of your event that needs revamping, you have that little vault at your disposal. Just remember that adding an annual margin is an intelligent strategy. And because it is a standard business practice to add an annual margin, it should be an easy approval and simple way to increase your AV budget.

event av costsConclusions

Okay – that was a handful and a mouthful of information! But you can now take a deep breath. We’re willing to bet you might feel a little bit calmer. Because after all, you just dug incredibly deep into the confusing topic of event AV costs. Not only are you a lot more mindful and educated on the intricacies of AV and finances, but you can also now walk into your next meeting with an AV company and know exactly what it takes to get the best possible deal. So, are you ready to make your event pop and succeeded more than ever before? Grab your calendar and your quotes – it’s time to start planning.

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Anja Grcar

Author Anja Grcar

Anja, Senior Content Writer at Endless Events, aspires to educate and inspire event planners with the power of the written word.

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