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It can seem like a daunting task finding the right AV company for you. We know this so created a list of questions to ask your AV company, as well as why to ask them. These questions to ask your AV company will help you navigate through your options and make the best decision possible for your event.
From AV gear to staffing we have you covered! Did you miss the first two parts of this series? Click here to start with part 1, Major AV Terms You Need To Know. Or if you already know AV Terms jump ahead to AV Fees and Infrastructure Costs You Absolutely Need To Know! Now let’s jump in!
Questions To Ask Your AV Company – The Quote
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 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.
Ask the AV company to walk you through the quote line by line. If the AV company can’t explain to you what it means in basic terms, then they are not being the partner you need for your event. Even worse they may be trying to confuse you for their bottom line. Every AV item can easily be explained. If you don’t understand something ask for an example. If they won’t explain further consider it your red flag to walk away.
How much does this line item effect 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 a worse event experience and people won’t be able to see your presentations. Or maybe you think 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.
Bottom line, if you have a great AV team they will guide you through this process. They can suggest what you can cut. They will also let you know what absolutely should not be cut. When your AV team has your best interest at heart they will be working WITH you to create the best event possible and meet your needs.
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 events experience 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 budget is tight.
To be clear it is OK to use the newest technology and it can be necessary for events using video mapping, lasers and more. New technology can be amazing and leave your guests in awe. Just be aware that new technology that is not proven often comes with problems and glitches that haven’t been ironed out quite yet. Think of when you download the latest IOS on your iPhone when it first comes out. Often it’s glitchy, your battery life is drained quicker or phone crashes suddenly. They later come out with updates to fix those glitches. Just like your iPhone new event tech can come with its own glitches creating a less than seamless experience so be sure to do your research!
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 the 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
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 set ups 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 ask your potential companies what makes them stand out!
At Endless Events, we learned from producing our own events and hiring AV & production companies and applied it to building the better AV & event production company. We focused on having a fun and dynamic team of people who you will love to work with, breaking the mold of traditional production companies. And we ensure you understand everything you are getting and have what you need for the event you want. We are focused on providing the perfect service!
What would you recommend to maximize the experience?
Even if you think you know your way around AV equipment, due to experience it’s likely the professional AV company knows better. You may have budgeted for the bare minimum in certain areas or are trying to cut corners but shouldn’t be and your AV team should be upfront and tell you. This could lead to an event disaster in the long-run.
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 speakers presentation. They are there to help you spot these changes ahead of time to make your event amazing.
As always, make sure that your AV company is making it crystal clear what the differences will be if you decide to switch options when downgrading, upgrading or switching out options. Expectations should always be very clear.
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 a 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!