Ed Note: Amy-Marie wrote Part I, Demystifying the technology of A/V, back in August.
Most hotels have an in-house A/V vendor that is their preferred vendor and will be great at taking care of all your needs. They have specialists on-site who will set up all your equipment and check back in case you need anything else or have any ‘technical difficulties.' I am always in favor of using the in-house A/V vs. bringing your own projectot. As I mentioned in my last post, I know enough to be dangerous, but I am not an A/V super geek! I do not want to be responsible for making the projector work. (There is nothing more nerve-wracking than being in front of 50-100 people trying to get a projector to work!)
As with anything, there are pros and cons to using the hotel A/V vs. bringing your own.
Hotel A/V pros: It's in the room when you arrive, set and ready to go, comes with technical support and they can troubleshoot any problems or issues.
Hotel A/V cons: It's expensive and in some hotels there is a service charge on top of the rental fees and charges.
I always make it a point to go through the A/V proposal with a fine-toothed comb and ask questions about each and every charge that I am wondering about: whether or not it is needed, what the piece of equipment is or what the charge is for. I think I can sometimes be the biggest pain in their side, but if I am going to be paying as much as they are charging, I want to make darn sure that I understand everything that I am paying for! Here are a few items off of my last A/V invoice:
+ $40 for a roll of gaff tape per room. Really? What am I going to do with nine partial rolls of gaff tape after the program?
+ $60 power service fee per room per day. LCDs and computers don’t usually require any special power, but you get charged to plug anything in.
+ A separate charge for the flipchart easel, the flip chart and the markers.
+ Extension cords and power strips. You pay for these items if you're bringing in your own LCD, otherwise this is included.
+ Labor charges. There is a hourly minimum per set-up per room. If it takes only 30 minutes to set the room, you are still charged the minimum one hour. Labor is usually around $50/hour, but at my last event it was $96/hour because the hotel, the hotel’s parent company and the A/V company’s parent company all needed to get their slice of the pie for the labor.
+ Service charges. This varied per room and was based on the gear and the expendable equipment like the extension cords and power strips.
Thankfully, through quite a bit of negotiation and questioning what I felt was fair and accurate, I was able to get quite a bit removed or reduced (like those extra rolls of gaff tape!). My point is, don’t let the A/V proposal overwhelm you. Take the time to review it, mark it up, ask lots of questions and don’t be afraid to push back on what you don’t feel is right. You could successfully save your event budget a few hundred dollars…and wouldn’t that be great?!
-- Amy-Marie Lemanski