One of the most common things that we hear from our prospective new clients is that “they HAVE to use the hotel’s av department”. Let’s clear some of that up now.
Rarely do you HAVE to use a hotel’s av department. There are times that it makes sense to use the hotel’s av and times when it does not. What you really want is the OPTION to use the hotel av so you can determine when is the best time. In order to do that, you must review your contract terms prior to signing the hotel or venue contract. Here are the key things to check for:
- Are there any hotel fees for bringing in an outside audiovisual company?
- Are there any union requirements for the venue, and what are the rules and rates?
- Are there specific production guidelines that an outside production company must abide by when working in their venue?
The best time to negotiate is when you are signing your contract for the room. Make sure that you also negotiate the right to use an outside audiovisual company without any additional fees. In most cases the venue is not going to lose the room rental, food and beverage, and hotel room revenue, to protect the audiovisual revenue – so cross it out of your contract.
Who is the Hotel AV?
In many cases, the “hotel av” is a sub contracted company that pays the hotel a commission for the right to operate within their hotel. The commission is a percentage of the audiovisual revenue, and in many cases is about 50% of the bill! So you can understand why the hotel would tell you that you HAVE to use their av department. It is always in the hotel’s best interests, not yours, that they recommend their “in house av’. Unfortunately, that is why the hotel av department is typically about 20% higher than an outside audiovisual company.
Another point to note, is that since the “hotel av” provider has a long term contract with the hotel, they represent the hotel first and you second.
There is also the lack of high end equipment and skilled staff that exist in most hotel properties. Most of the “av” staff have had very little if any formal or informal training. They may have come from engineering or housekeeping, and this position opened up. The “hotel av” inventory also only reflects what they typically use: small projectors, screens, flipcharts, and standard microphones. An outside company typically has a much more diverse inventory, and its technical staff have typically been formally educated in an element of production, and live and breathe for live events.
The last thing to note, is that the “hotel av” typically does not just work for you on your event. If they are needed in another room to change a light bulb, move some chairs, or setup another clients’ event, then they will be called out of your meeting to do it. Is that the type of service that you should pay 20% more for?
There are times that using the hotel’s av department makes sense, and times when it just may be easier for you. But don’t be bullied into doing something that is not in your clients best interests. Make an educated decision.