Have you ever received quotes from two companies and there was a huge discrepancy in price? What did you think? My reaction is usually, “Hey, this one looks like a great deal! I wonder what the catch is…” Sometimes there’s a difference because you’re legitimately getting a good price. Sometimes the discrepancy is because the quotes aren’t for the same thing. It’s important to do an “apples to apples” comparison so you receive the services you expect and avoid additional charges later. Here are some differences to look for in audio visual / event staging proposals:
Understand your expectation for staffing levels. Is one technician appropriate for the general session, or do you need an audio lead, video lead, lighting lead? How many technicians should there be for breakout rooms? As a rule of thumb we specify one technician for every four small breakout rooms. I’ve seen proposals with 16 breakouts and there was only one technician to cover them all.
If you made arrangements to rent a Cadillac and when you arrive they handed you keys to a smart car, how would you feel? Just like there are many types of cars, there are many types of projectors or speakers. Look at specs - a 3,000 lumen projector is bright enough for a small breakout, but not suitable for a general session. Quality matters too – a generic brand microphone is more likely to cause feedback than a recognized brand like Shure or Audio-Technica.
I’ve seen a surprising number of competitor’s quotes that, due to an oversight, just didn’t include things the event organizer asked for. For example – the client wants to record video and there’s no camera. The client wants to show a video in X room and there’s no projector included.
I’ve also seen proposals that ended a day early or started a day late, or didn’t include labor coverage for the big evening gala.
If your AV partner is not local to the venue, they will have hard costs like travel to the venue, lodging, and a per diem for technicians. Depending on how they work, they may include some or all of these costs on the proposal. If you prefer to work with a partner who is not local, you might consider providing lodging through your room block since your negotiated rate is likely lower.
If you’re receiving a bid from the in-house audio visual partner, did they combine internet services together with audio visual, or is it a separate proposal? That could make the quote appear higher.
Is there any permanently installed equipment in the venue which the in-house partner will use? Sometimes that can make the quote lower than someone bringing in gear and set it up.
If you’re in a major hotel, chances are a 20-22% service charge is being applied to the AV bill. (If you don’t see it on the quote confirm you won’t be charged service on the final invoice)
If you’re not sure and have questions, the audio visual partners you’re working with should be able to speak to these points. Reviewing your proposals with an eye towards an apples-to-apples comparison will help you avoid surprises and make the best decision.
Article written by Greg Kamprath, IMS Account Executive