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One of the most common questions related to organizing events is “How can I save money on AV?”. No wonder: AV and event production is one of the most expensive parts of an event. Additionally, the landscape of event AV is changing constantly, from new equipment to changes in the pricing structure. So, how can the process be as smooth as possible for the client and vendor alike?

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If you’ve been wondering how to save money on AV yourself, you’ve come to the right place. On this week’s Event Tech Podcast, Will Curran and Brandt Krueger walk you through all you need to know to save money on AV. And if you’re curious to see what an AV audit looks like, make sure to see our Whiteboard Wednesday episode on an AV audit.


Save Money On AV: Education Is Key

Much like everything in life, the more educated you are on a matter, the better you’ll do. Event AV isn’t an exception! Take it from Chief Event Einstein himself, Will Curran – “for me, one of the number one best tips as far as how to save money is to start to get educated.”

Closing The Gap

“There’s definitely a gap between the vendor knowledge and the client knowledge”, says Will. This gap will inevitably translate into bad business making. Take the car analogy, for instance – “when you go in to buy a car, if you have no idea what you’re gonna be talking about, you tend to feel like you’re always being ripped off. But if you understand what you’re doing, you tend to know who’s ripping you off and who’s not ripping you off and you have a little bit better knowledge, and I think that’s the thing ultimately to, not only just saving money on that side of things, but it’s also about the comfortability and the smoothness of the process”.

Anyone Can Do It – Including You!

It can seem scary or just plain uninteresting to get the gist of AV and what it entails. “I think we hear this all the time where someone says they’re not a tech-type of a person”, says Brandt. Sounds familiar? Well, there’s always a way around it.

“For me, it’s kind of like learning a different language. You never hear someone say, ‘I’m not French so I could never learn French’. It just takes a little time. You don’t have to become fluent overnight. You can learn the basics”. And the pay-off is huge: knowing how to save money on AV.

There’s No Shame In Asking For Help

Where would any of us be without a little help from someone who knows what they’re doing and talking about? “Don’t be afraid to also get a techie person”, is one of Will’s pieces of advice.

There’s even a class you can take or offer someone at the Event Leadership Institute. “It’s the people that just want to learn more about it and just kind of add that to their toolbox. Not necessarily want to do it for a living but just be able to learn that language a little bit”, says Brandt. He’ll even throw you a discount code if you reach out to him.

Sit Down With AV Companies

Ask Them For The Walkthrough

“Basically always ask for what’s called a quote walkthrough. It might sound like it’s gonna take a lot of time (…) but ask your AV company to sit down with you on a screen share or in person and walk you through every single line item of the quote”, says Will. “If they can explain it in easy terms as they walk you through it, you will understand what’s on their quote but also as well you’ll start to learn mode names”.

Get Those Competitive Bids

“There are an awful lot of planners out there that still just get the quote from the in-house and go with it”, says Brandt. “For me, that’s kind of my next biggest thing is making sure that you get at least one more competitive bid, preferably more than that”.

“I’m happy to lose business when someone’s providing great quality equipment, the exact same labor staffing schedule and they beat me on price. I’m happy because it means they figured out how to do this more efficiently than me and I deserve to lose the business because I need to figure out how to do my business better”, Will adds.

Make Sure You’re Getting What You Need

Don’t just copy and paste material from previous years. “One of the things that I always do when I’m working with a new client is (…) I remove any references to specific equipment, any references to specific types of speakers or projectors or things like that”, says Brandt.

“If you get locked into cutting and pasting of equipment, the AV company is gonna try their best to provide that or something very similar to it and I would much rather get their initial take on, “Okay, we’ve got a room this big with this number of people in it. It’s a general session. What do you think we should have for sound?” That kind of thing rather than locking into specific types of gear”, he adds.

Save Money On AV

What Else To Look At To Save Money On AV?

Stakeholder Expectations

“We come in here, we want to obviously have a better stage than last year, a newer design, things like that. But we all have those stakeholders who see something crazy and say, “I want that,” but they have no idea what the cost is associated with it”, says Will.

“The biggest way that you can save money in that situation is to not say yes immediately and to involve those stakeholders in the conversation with the AV company”, he adds. “I have clients who could save so much money if they just manage the expectation of the stakeholders and we have conversations with them together”.

Pay Attention To Overtime

“What we find a lot of times is that this stuff doesn’t get shared and this expectation of, “Yeah, you’re probably gonna need a little bit of buffer time” doesn’t get shared so, therefore, it gets added in at the end for that extra invoice and it’s boom, it’s a huge overtime bill”, Will warns. ” The more accurate your schedule is from day one, the more accurate your final bill is gonna be”.

Dive Into The Regulations

Remember your AV teams don’t consist of mere robots, but actual human beings. “Sometimes they’re labor laws, but labor rules and understanding your company’s AV rules is really important. We had to do it as far as we had to start putting it in our contract because even though this stuff is pretty common across AV companies, people would always be shocked”, says Will.

Be Creative!

Another great tip by will is a bit towards getting creative – “when it comes to saving money on AV has to do with thinking of unique ways to implement technology and scenic design and things like that”.

“I think that your AV company should challenge you and that’s I think a little mini bonus tip as well. They should challenge you and challenge the idea of are you gonna utilize it?”, he continues. “Have a conversation about being open to ideas about changing and have your AV company challenge you but also at the same time as well, have that conversation about saving money from the get-go”.

The Power Of Negotiation

“It used to be like I said, everything was kind of negotiable and more and more often planners that do know better do know that, hey, we want to get rid of this clause that says that we have to use the in house AV. More and more venues are starting to say no, and it’s getting harder and harder to find venues that are willing to play ball”, says Will.

“It’s totally the way it’s gonna be and that’s the way I think things might shape out in the future, and that’s where, too, talk to your AV company too”.

Save Money On AV – You Can Do It!

Knowing how to save money on AV can also save you a fair share of headaches. Today, Will and Brandt shared some basic, and some unique tips on how to get the best value for money on your AV equipment. Did you find it helpful? What are your personal tips to save money on AV? Share your story with us in the comments below!


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Brandt Krueger

Author Brandt Krueger

With over 20 years experience in the meetings and events industry, Brandt has spoken at industry events and seminars all over the world, been published in numerous magazines and websites, and teaches public and private classes on meeting and event technology and production. He provides freelance technical production services, and is the owner of Event Technology Consulting.

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