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You’ve probably noticed a lot of fees when you are looking at venues. The venue AV charges really seem to pile up. I’m sure you have seen them before in the form of wifi fees, third-party AV fees, power fees, and the list goes on. As you are seeing the fee’s mounting on you may have even wondered, “Can I negotiate AV charges?”.

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In short, yes you can. But in order to negotiate venue AV charges, you must arm yourself with knowledge, strong negotiating skills, and the will to walk away if you need to. In this episode of Whiteboard Wednesday, Will Curran and Brandt Krueger will walk you through how to negotiate venue av charges step-by-step. By the end of the video, you will feel more confident negotiating and be well on your way to avoiding unnecessary fees!

negotiate venue av charges

Video Transcription: Can I Negotiate Venue AV Charges? – Whiteboard Wednesdays

Brandt Kruger: Hey everybody, welcome to another Whiteboard Wednesday, we’re doing this one together. And today we’re going to be talking all about can I negotiate venue AV charges? All right, here we go, the answer is yes.

Will Curran: All right, so you guys actually want to hear more about this I’m guessing. My name is Will Curran, Endless Events.

Brandt Kruger: And I’m Brandt Kruger.

Will Curran: And today we’re talking about how to negotiate those fees, and what do they look like? Before we jump in, one quick thing before I totally forget is we wrote a book all about this called How to Remove In-House AV restrictions, we’ll leave a link down below so that way you can download that and check it out. It includes some contract language when it comes to this. But the important thing is yes, you can negotiate it out. So, let’s talk about what these fees look like, starting off with wifi. Brandt?

Brandt Kruger: Wifi. So, here’s the deal with wifi. And more and more planners actually understand this more, they’re putting it in their contract more and more often now, that hey, if I’m going to bring my group to this venue, you’re going to throw in wifi for my attendees. And you’re going to make sure it’s fast, and you’re going to make sure it’s good. And you’re going to include it in the room. A lot of planners are starting to include language to that effect in their contracts already.

Brandt Kruger: So, it’s definitely something that people are more aware of. But, there’s still a lot of people that aren’t, so it figures it’s worth talking about.

Will Curran: Totally. I say that wifi is the new wild wild west when it comes to fees and things like that. It used to be, “Hey, I want to bring my third-party AV company, therefore boom, here’s all the fees, get out of here.” Now it’s, “Oh, yeah, totally bring your third-party AV company, but you’re going to spend $30,000 on wifi. But, if you use the in-house, we’ll give it to you for free.”

Brandt Kruger: So, make sure it’s part of your negotiating strategy from the beginning. So, before you even sign the contract with your venue. All of these things really, so let’s just get that out of the way. We’ll reiterate it a couple of times. All of these things, get this as part of your negotiating before you sign contract.

Will Curran: Because, you know what they call before you sign the contract? Negotiating.

Brandt Kruger: Yes.

Will Curran: And then what do they call it after you’ve signed the contract?

Brandt Kruger: I don’t know.

Will Curran: Beginning.

Brandt Kruger: Oh, right.

Brandt Kruger: Right, yes, so absolutely when you’re talking about before as you’re negotiating whether or not you’re going to bring your group to that venue, that’s the time to talk about all of these things, especially starting with wifi.

Will Curran: Awesome. So, make sure you get that good wifi, make sure it’s in the contract before hand. Now we’re talking about power, obviously the electricity to get everything going when it comes to this, Brandt, what do you mean by power?

Brandt Kruger: Here’s the other part of the wild wild west. Just like wifi, you never know exactly how you’re going to be charged. So, be sure when you’re talking about wifi or power, you find out in advance exactly how you’re going to be charged. So, depending on where you are and what venue you’re going to be in, that can really affect whether or not they’re charging you by how much you use. Whether it’s just based purely on whether they have to bring in more equipment. Some places will actually even charge you for using just the individual outlets in the room.

Brandt Kruger: Now, the reason that this happens is because depending on your location, some cities and states actually have laws on the book saying that you can’t recharge for a public utility. So, they can’t charge you for power, but they charge you for the equipment, they can charge you for the outlets, they can charge you for the use. Exactly, service fees and things like that.

Brandt Kruger: So, really be sure to find out exactly how you’re going to get charged for power.

Will Curran: Will, Brandt, what if someone says, “I don’t know how much power I’m going to need?”

Brandt Kruger: That can be tricky, especially when you’re first trying to get out. So, the best advice that I can give, especially … and this goes for wifi as well, is once you’re done with the event, if someone is charging you for the amount of power that you use, or the amount of wifi, how much bandwidth are you using, make sure you get a report afterward and just keep that in a filing cabinet. So, at least you can start to learn from time to time, okay, we used about this much bandwidth on our wifi. We used about this much power in our thing. The problem is, again, the pricing is all over the map.

Will Curran: Absolutely. And one thing, we always talk about getting your AV company included sooner in the process, this is why it’s so helpful, because the AV company is there from the beginning, they can tell you, “Hey, that setup that we’ve been using for years, we usually need X for power.” And there you go. And sometimes, the great AV companies will also do it for you and negotiate it for you.

Brandt Kruger: And we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, AV companies, bring us in earlier. We can look at these contracts for you, we can look at the power charges, we can look at the wifi charges and help you negotiate as well.

Will Curran: All right. Next up, rigging points. God, rigging, another pain point for clients.

Brandt Kruger: Make sure everybody knows what we’re talking about with rigging points.

Will Curran: So, rigging points essentially is hanging stuff from the ceiling. Sometimes it can also include you doing some ground sport, but most of the time it’s talking about hanging things from the ceiling. Trussing, piping, lighting fixtures, sound system. Things like that. So, the fees are things like actually tapping in the points, but also can mean some other things as well, right?

Brandt Kruger: Well, I mean yeah. When we’re talking about rigging points, rigging points, like you say, are the physical points in the ceiling that you’re going to hang all of that stuff from. So, the thing that I like to emphasize is that’s permanent infrastructure, right? It’s not like they have to go up to those points and put it in every time, or inspect them every time, or anything like that. Once they’re there, they’re there. So, it literally costs them nothing for you to hang from those points. There’s no maintenance or anything along those lines.

Brandt Kruger: So, it’s just really a way to charge you more money. And these point charges can be several hundred dollars per point per day.

Will Curran: Oh my gosh, so if you’re talking a trust in the back hanging some lights, a trust in the front hanging some lights. Maybe you’re doing some delayed screens halfway through the audience. Man, that could…

Brandt Kruger: 200, 400, 600, 800. Then times per day, all of a sudden you’re spending three grand to just use those points that already existed in the ceiling.

Brandt Kruger: Now, the reason this happens is because a lot of in-house AV companies will go especially to older venues that don’t have any rigging points in the ceiling. And they will pay, they will offer to pay to have these points physically … because you’ve got to weld the things into the high beams and all that kind of stuff. So, there is work on the front end of doing this. And so they’ll go to the venue and say, “Okay, we’ll put these in for you, but then we get the right to charge for them.” So, it’s a win, win for the venue, because they now have rigging points that they didn’t have before, and it costs them nothing.

Will Curran: Absolutely. But again, you can always negotiate this out. Whether or not they need to make the money or not, you can negotiate it out and some venues will be willing to give it to you for free because they want to earn your business, whereas another venue might be like, “Yo, we’re totally cool with making money.” So, obviously negotiate it out. I think that’s the biggest lesson when it comes to this.

Brandt Kruger: And so all of these things influence this, right? So, it’s kind of the carrot and stick mentality. So, you’ve got two ways to incentivize someone. One is to give them the carrot, and the other one is to get them with the stick. So, here’s the carrot. The carrot is okay, if you use the in-house AV company, we’ll throw in the wifi for free. Or, we’ll give you upgraded service. If you use the in-house AV service, we’ll throw in the power for free, or give you upgraded service. If you use the in-house AV, we’ll throw in the rigging points for free. Or, all of the above plus we’ll give you a 20% discount for using the in-house AV company, as long as you don’t go to the third-party AV company.

Brandt Kruger: But here’s the thing. All of those things, that’s the carrot, right? And then the stick is that if you do go with a third-party company, they will frequently have in the contract you’ve got to give us 10% of whatever you’re paying them, or 20% of whatever you’re paying them, as a fee for bringing that third-party in.

Will Curran: And then sometimes too you have more physical manifestations on these as well, things like for example babysitting fees. If you’ve ever had an AV person that’s literally sitting in the room just to watch the AV company. Or for example a very common in a lot of properties, carpet protection. Yeah, there is the plastic you have to buy, but they’re definitely overcharging for it. And to be honest, wouldn’t you think the venue would already have it already because they have to protect the carpet every single time? Obviously I’m very bitter about this.

Brandt Kruger: To be fair, it’s your business, right?

Will Curran: Yeah, totally.

Brandt Kruger: But it’s not just those things. A lot of times there are union rules. To be fair, there are rules, sometimes union rules that we’ve got to have shadow laver, things like that. I know we’ve covered in some other Whiteboard Wednesday’s. But, that’s not what we’re talking about. What we’re talking about here is literally they’ll have in the contract that if you’re bringing in a third-party company, you need to have a supervisor there, who’s there to make sure that you’re following all the rules of the venue. Using brown tape on the carpet, or things like that. It’s usually a lot of made up stuff. But, mysteriously that all goes away if you use the in-house AV company.

Will Curran: Interesting.

Brandt Kruger: Now, what does all of this have to do with? It goes back to what we were joking about at the beginning, but it’s absolutely true, all of this is negotiable. All of this is negotiable before you sign the contract. I like to tell a lot of people venue contracts, it’s a lot like buying a used car. So, if you go to the car dealership and you’re like, “Oh, this is the one I love. I love this car, I want to test drive it. I love this car.” They’re like, “We got you, you’re hooked.”

Brandt Kruger: But if they think you’re prepared to walk away, and if they believe that you’re prepared to walk away, you have a much stronger negotiating platform. So, a lot of times you go to the venue and it’s got a great spa, and beautiful views, and the rooms are gorgeous. So, if you’re hooked, there’s no incentive for them to negotiate any of this stuff away. But if really, honestly, you are prepared to walk away from that venue if they’re not going to include these things, you have the power of the planning. And that’s something that I always want to make sure, is that whenever it comes to negotiating any of those things, you have the power.

Brandt Kruger: So, if you’re tired of paying extra for wifi, and too much for power, and too much for rigging points, and you’re having to pay third-party AV fees, walk away. I didn’t expect you to literally walk away.

Will Curran: So, that brings us to the end of Whiteboard Wednesday for this week. It’s been so fantastic having Brandt on as a guest for a little couple of episode. If you liked Brandt, give us a thumbs up and give him some love down in the comments below. But if you had some crazy AV fees recently, or a good negotiation strategy, we’d love to hear in the comments. Leave it down below, leave us a comment about what you thought.

Will Curran: However, if you really loved this video, what do they do, Brandt?

Brandt Kruger: Thumbs up.

Will Curran: Give it a thumbs up.

Brandt Kruger: Thumbs up.

Will Curran: And if you didn’t like it, thought it sucked, give us a thumbs down but leave us a comment and let us know how we can do better. However, if you really, really love these videos, you want to get more, the little button down there that says subscribe. Click on that, click the little bell icon so you can get notifications, and join our subscription squad. And I think that’s going to end if for Whiteboard Wednesday this week.

Brandt Kruger: All right, thanks, everybody.

Will Curran: Have a good one.


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Will Curran

Author Will Curran

Information junkie, energetic, and work-a-holic are just some of the words we can use to describe Will Curran. Aside from spending 20 out of 24 hours a day working as the Chief Event Einstein of Endless Events, you can catch Will ordering a chai latte or watching The Flash with his cats. He is also well known for his love of all things pretzels.

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