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The world of event production and AV can seem really confusing to outside observers. You might be asking yourself questions, such as: ‘When can I use an outside AV company and when are we required to use an in-house AV company?’ When the questions go unanswered, you can end up with as much as a 25% increase in AV costs, so it’s important to know how to remove in-house AV restrictions and when to use an outside AV company.

Your event budget is very important and sometimes, you just don’t have room for an additional 25% costs for your event! Sometimes, you are required to use the in-house AV company, and sometimes, you can bring your own third-party provider. And we are here to help you navigate those decisions! And the good news is that this very same logic can be also applied to other vendors, such as event catering.

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Option 1: Venues With NO In-House AV Company

There are many venues out there that have no restrictions about what AV company you work with. These venues are easiest to work with because you have full control over what you want to do. However, if you don’t have experience planning events, you may find that having that in-house AV provided is very helpful.

These venues are typically small or very “non-traditional”, so therefore they set their own rules. The easiest way to see if they require you to work with one company is to simply ask. Most such venues will say no. If that’s the case, you have to make sure you include your vendor in the conversation early, so the venue knows you are working with a trustworthy provider.

When Can You Use An Outside AV Company?Option 2: Venues With An In-House AV Company

More often than not, venues now come with in-house AV companies. This is because most events require some sort of AV needs, and by partnering with a company, the venue can enjoy additional revenue sources. As we’ve stated before, in-house companies can be great if you have never sourced an AV company before. However, there are always other options. Similar to venues from option 1, it’s important to ask some questions early on in your venue selection process and most importantly, before signing your contract. Ask them whether you absolutely need to use their in-house AV company.

Venues may “suggest” using their AV company. That’s when you must ask them to clarify: “Am I contractually required to use this company?” Remember, sometimes a hotel is financially obligated to sell the in-house AV over allowing you to bring in your own AV company. They’re losing money otherwise! Unfortunately, this is where a lot of used car salesman techniques are applied to confuse and trick clients into using the in-house AV company.

Sometimes, venues have contracts with AV unions, which means that if you decide to bring in a third-party company, the venue might still charge you for shadow labor. That way, you can end up paying for two staff AV professionals instead of one, which can dramatically affect your final AV costs.

Remove In-House Restrictions!

If you are ever concerned you may not be able to work with an outside AV company or you just want to make sure you have all of your options open, check out our guide, How To Remove In-House AV Restrictions. We have seen huge restrictions, from thousands of dollars in fees. The important thing is to identify and eliminate the problem before you sign your contract.

Remember that as the customer, you have the power to choose and walk away. You don’t want to be forced to use a specific vendor. Outside companies are also not necessarily the best fit for your event. The power is in your hands!

In Conclusion: Yes, You Can Use An Outside AV Company

In conclusion, the short answer to the question is: you can always use an outside AV company. You are never 100% required to use the in-house AV company. Make sure to do your research, ask the right questions, and compare AV quotes if necessary. That way, you can avoid additional fees and any unexpected hassles that might arise later on in the planning project.

And finally, don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to us if you have any questions about event production and AV! Having a trusted partner on your side will not only save you money, but also take your event to that next level.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally posted in 2015 and updated for clarity purposes.

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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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