AV Guide: Tips & Tricks to Save You Money
Audio/Visual (AV) is essential to your meeting success and a great way to bring the wow factor to your event, but it can also eat up a lot of budget too. Quality sound, screens and lighting are basics that your participants expect to be right if you want to keep them happy and attentive to your event content. The importance of having a solid AV set up at your event, provided by a tech team you can trust to deliver, is essential to any event planner.
Unfortunately, no event manager has a bottomless budget and your AV bill sometimes has to be trimmed back to stay in the black. Here are 8 simple ways you can knock expenses off your AV bill, without compromising on quality.
1. Use Your Own AV Company
Of course, it’s convenient to use the hotel’s in-house AV company, but that convenience can be expensive. The hotel AV company needs to pay a large commission of your invoice to the hotel (40-50% on average). To cover that, you will need to pay a premium. If cost is a major concern, and especially if you want any specialized equipment or technicians, you should always consider bringing in your own AV company.
2. Consider AV When Negotiating and Booking Your Venue
If you have a preferred AV company that supports your events, invite them with you for a site visit to the potential venue. Make it clear upfront that you intend to use your own AV partner. At a minimum, make sure to negotiate the contract so that it leaves you the flexibility to choose the best vendor for you.
3. Get Multiple Competitive Quotes
AV companies will compete aggressively for your business. By taking competitive quotes back to your preferred vendor, you will usually be able to negotiate a lower cost. If you find out that the prices are similar from multiple companies, you can at least make sure you’re getting the highest value solution for that budget.
4. Negotiate Multiple Meetings at the Same Time
If you have multiple upcoming meetings, consider using a nationwide AV company. They’ll be able to help you no matter where your meetings are located, and they’ll give you a quantity discount for multiple bookings. As well as potential cost savings this also helps ensure consistency in setup, service and quality between your different event projects and locations.
5. Opt for Virtual Attendance
It’s great to attend a meeting in person. You’re able to network face-to-face, sit down over meals, and have a shared experience. It’s also expensive to attend meetings, especially when you factor in airfare, hotel, meals, and the opportunity cost of being out of the office. Many planners are moving to hybrid events, combining a live event with a professional webcast, to give the best of both worlds. There is even the option to monetize virtual attendance if you wish.
6. Ask the Pros to Help You Uncover Inefficiencies
It is always worth talking to your AV provider to learn any areas where savings could be made. If you have multiple meetings, a great AV partner will provide you with improvement ideas after each one. Ask them to have a Project Manager onsite who can identify opportunities to lower your costs by optimizing crew size, eliminating unnecessary equipment, and looking for ways to get the work done in less time.
7. Consider Various Service Levels
For some events, you may need full service, including setup, onsite technicians to run the show, and teardown. For other events, you may simply need a self-service equipment rental. Make sure you’re not paying for service you don’t actually need. A good AV company will not provide you with a “take it or leave it” proposal. They should be able to present several options, at various price levels, for you to choose from. An AV partner will work with you to identify different solutions to realize your vision, while staying within your event budget.
8. Offer Creative Sponsorship Opportunities
There are many event technology solutions that allow you to add powerful sponsorship potential. You can often pay for these technologies through the sponsorship revenues, and sometimes they can be profit drivers for you. For example, you could rent a video wall and utilize the displays to mix sponsorship messages together with event information and social media activity.
In Conclusion, AV plays a vital part in the success of your event and you want to be sure to get it right. With these 8 tips you can be sure that you are saving money on AV and achieving the best value for your event, without compromising on quality.
Get the Most Out of Your AV Company
Selecting the right AV suppliers is one major component of producing a successful event. However, audio visual & IT equipment can be a very confusing to understand and it can be hard to know where to start. Jargon such as HDMI, aspect ratio, condenser or dynamic mics, lumens etc., can be hard to understand, but putting it all together can be another thing all together...
This is why event planners hire an AV company to do it all for them. Here are a few tips to help get the most for your money:
1. Audio Visual Production companies provide more than just technical equipment and wires
Often AV companies offer a range of services related to events and it’s important to leverage their expertise. For example, you could ask your AV Supplier for advice on your venue selection, event theming ideas, drapes, red carpets, CAD designs / room layouts, signage printing and customized stage backdrops. If they don't offer that service, there is a good chance they will be able to recommend someone else in the business who can help you.
Your AV production company of choice should also be willing to offer content creation services such as creating PowerPoint's and Keynote's, videos, graphics and cutting music for awards dinners. You may also find they offer event filming and live streaming if that is of interest to you.
2. Get your AV supplier involved as early as possible
Audio Visual, Staging and Lighting shouldn't be a last-minute addition, in fact, by seeking our expert advice as early as possible you can make sure you get several quotes and conduct meetings to select the right supplier, overcome hurdles early and ensure a professional finish to your event. Booking early will also be one more thing off your shoulders.
3. Know your venue’s potential (your AV company can help!)
Getting to know the venue or space you will be using is crucial when it comes to getting your event right. Speak with your suppliers about the venue as early as possible, even before you commit to booking. Your suppliers should be more than happy to help advise you on what can or can't be achieved in your desired space.
Your chosen AV Company will have more than likely worked in many different kinds of venues of all types and sizes, from conferences to festivals, and there is a good chance they might already know venue straight away, especially if it’s based near by their offices (always worth asking).
4. Create the right format content
Before your make any content, first decide the format required. There are lots different ways of showing content such as PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi or videos & graphics played form a media server. There are also lots of different sizes from ultra-wide-screen to square. Obviously, you don't want to create square content when you have asked for an ultra-wide LED video wall hire.
5. Communicate with your AV supplier
Once venue is confirmed and requirements have been agreed, there will still be lots to do. Start off by making a draft event schedule or Run of Show (even if it’s not perfect) to include setup times, rehearsals, show times and of course time to dismantle. Share this with your venue and AV company to make sure the times set out are achievable.
If you ever have any worries or concerns, pick-up the phone to your supplier. A good AV company will always be happy to talk and will normally assign at least 1 project manager who will be your first point of call. More than often they will provide you a direct phone or email, so you can discuss anything that comes up.
A week before the event arrange a final pre-event call or meeting to run through the final schedule and discuss all requirements so that they can ensure everything you want will be delivered.
6. Technicians are there to help you
With an onsite team you can ensure your display will be set up and monitored without glitch free, and you can trust that the equipment is being managed in the right way.
Depending on the nature of your event, you may have dedicated onsite technicians and AV experts as part of your AV hire package. While onsite support and service can entail an additional cost, the result is often well worth the additional expense.
If you get the feeling that your AV company is not responsive or experienced from the first phone call or meeting, then trust your gut. Events only happen once, and they need to go perfectly as there is no turning back time to change things.
7. You get what you pay for… Don’t go with the cheap one
A professional AV supplier will carry key backup AV equipment onsite (not necessarily stated on the quote), dedicated event project managers, very high-quality equipment from leading manufacturers and of course, well trained and experienced staff that are friendly and very presentable.
“Good Work Ain’t Cheap and Cheap Work Ain’t Good” teaches us that you get what you pay for. A company using inferior products that have a potential to breakdown without backup equipment is a problem you can’t afford to have. Like any product or service, AV companies vary a lot in quality, experience, knowledge, equipment, size and structure. You want to make sure that you select a company with a proven track record, comes recommended, understands your requirements and can work to provide the best for your budget.
Audio Visual Knowledge Checklist
Everything is perfectly into place until you get that dreaded tap on the shoulder. “The video won’t show up on the screen.” Before you can react, another person rushes in your direction. “None of the microphones work.” Sound familiar?
Miscommunication between an AV team and event staff is inevitable. Understanding basic terminology is key to ensuring catastrophes like a washed-out stage, a blank screen, and missing sound never happen. Because of how specialized and complex today’s A/V tech is, you need to be knowledgeable about the jargon that comes along with it.
This simple AV checklist will ensure that you’re communicating well and asking your AV provider all the right questions.
1. Mixer / Sound Board
Have more than one microphone in the same room? To balance the sound, control feedback, and adjust volume levels on microphones, your a/v team will be using a mixer or sound board. These electronic consoles manipulate and combine audio signals before routing them to your speakers. Be sure your A/V team knows exactly how many speakers will need microphones.
Will your event also requires additional microphones for audience questions? Then, make sure your mixer has enough channels.
Pro tip: To ensure presenters on stage will hear questions from the audience, you may want to consult your A/V technician about installing monitor speakers.
2. Aspect Ratio
Aspect ratio refers to the ratio between the width and the height of a screen. The two most common ratios are 16:9, which are High Definition screens (also called widescreens) and 4:3, which are Standard Definition screens. This is usually a problem that planners run into when speakers create their own presentations. These days, widescreen is a more common standard. Make sure speakers are submitting slides that fit the 16:9 aspect ratio.
While your budget will dictate which screen you choose, remember to have your guest speakers format presentations accordingly.
The type of projector you select depends on your event. Are you showing PowerPoint presentations or videos? Will you need to stream a speech or interview?
For presentations, a brighter projector is generally better since it ensures good visibility. Always consider the amount of natural light, however. If a room has a lot of windows you will need an even brighter projector to ensure that everything is easily visible. As for streaming content, rear screen projection might be the solution for you since it provides better quality visuals.
Before selecting a microphone, ask yourself these questions.
For what will the mic be used? Will it stay in one place?
If one speaker needs a mic and will stand in the same place, go wired. But, what if your speaker intends to take questions from the audience? A handheld wireless mic will ensure ease of movement. Consider using a CatchBox microphone to make Q&A even easier. It makes for a more interactive experience and easily integrates with most mixers.
Delivering a presentation and need your hands-free? Choose lavalier, a small microphone that easily clips on an earpiece or on clothing like a collar, tie or belt.
Last, a wireless microphone needs a transmitter to send audio signals through radio waves. For lavalier or headset microphones, a bodypack transmitter will do the trick – it can be mounted on clothing or fit inside a pocket.
Does your event have to support multiple devices like laptops, smartphones, and tablets? If you answered yes, then you may need more bandwidth.
That’s because bandwidth dictates how much information your internet connection can handle in a given period of time. Imagine water flowing through a pipe – too much water and the pipe could burst. So, what does this mean for you?
More bandwidth means more consistent upload and download speeds. It means uninterrupted streaming. And, most importantly, it will prevent the internet from crashing. Consider how many internet connected devices we use every day. If your event has 100 attendees, but they’re each bringing a laptop, a smartphone, and a tablet, you’ll need to allocate enough bandwidth for more than 300 devices.
6. Frequency Band
A frequency band is a band of continuous frequencies that travels between two limits and transmits radio and television signals.
Every electronic device like wireless microphones, tablets, smartphones, laptops, and projectors emit signals at a particular frequency so make sure your microphone does not have to compete. Otherwise, you’ll hear screeching, which is fun for no one.
7. Transmitters and Receivers
Planning an event with live streaming? Or, need wireless microphones for your keynote speakers?
To avoid wires in the middle of the floor, you will need a transmitter and receiver. These devices work in tandem and help transmit AV signals through radio waves to projectors and speakers across the room.
8. Adapters and Dongles
Are you speakers presenting from their own laptops? Do any of them need to be plugged into a projector? Then it’s a good idea to have several adapters on hand.
The simple reason is that most computers don’t HDMI outlets. HDMI is what allows you to connect your computer to your TV to watch things like Netflix, but they can also save your events from a potential A/V disaster.
Dongles connect computers and TVs to watch Netflix, but they can also save you from A/V disasters.
You don’t need to be as fluent as your technician but knowing how things work will improve your ability to identify your AV needs, and manage your budget.