By Will Curran
Shared from endless blog
My hope is that one day, AV quotes will not need to be clarified and you have a flawless AV experience every time, but until then I wanted to share some small details that can make a BIG difference, especially from a cost and headache perspective. You might say to yourself, “Why am I asking these questions, isn’t it the AV company’s job to worry about this?” – you are right but not all AV companies will be there to clarify and sometimes it’s easy to forget the details. We recommend taking the extra few minutes to ask these questions to have a flawless event.
Single day vs multi-day
For multi-day events, it’s very important to ask if you are bring charged for a single day or multiple days for your equipment. Read our blog on the topic of how to compare AV quotes for more information on what a day-rate is. It’s important because unless their quote shows you what the single day-rate is, some vendors might be willing to give you a single day-rate for the equipment to match a competitor if they are doing the other vendor is. Doesn’t hurt to ask, but similar to asking for a discount, be prepared to offer something in return. Don’t forget that business is a two way road.
Does this quote include all of the costs and fees?
This might surprise you but not all costs are included in some quotes. It’s important to ask this and see what sort of scenarios would cause their to be additional fees or costs. For example, some outside AV companies (non-in-house companies) will not include the power and rigging costs for needed to pull off the setup they are selling you and then you’ll be surprised when the hotel bills you. We recommend that all AV vendors make their quotes 100% inclusive of all of the costs so you, the client, can see the real cost of the event.
Do you recommend anything to make our event run more smoothly?
You always want your AV company to get your quote exactly within budget right? Well sometimes, this relentless desire to stay in budget means an AV company may leave out some optional but very helpful pieces of equipment. Let’s say their first quote comes in budget, but wouldn’t you be willing to spend an extra $200 to have that one piece of equipment that will make everything just flow and run more smoothly? Chances are you would. For example, many corporate events don’t think about having a confidence monitor, slide advance (also called a clicker), and a timer on stage. These can make it easier for speakers to manage their time and give a more effective presentation, but sometimes to get you the lowest quote, an AV company will leave this out unless you ask for it.
Can you summarize the various areas of your contract?
First, I have to start this by saying I am obviously not a lawyer and you should always consult your attorney before signing any agreements. However, when you first receive your quote, ask the company to summarize some of the main points of their contract. Is there a fee if we use a credit card? Do you have any insurance requirements? Will I get hit with a fee if I wear green shoes? Getting these from the AV company will give you an idea of what they mean in layman’s terms before you have your attorney review it and for you to get an idea of how the company works for big things like payments, cancellations, late payments, confidentiality, etc.
Equipment differences between quotes
We discuss this one in heavily in our How To Compare AV Quotes blog post but when you get your second (or 5th) quote from an AV company. Ask the AV company to explain the difference between the specific pieces of equipment the other company chose, and theirs. They should be able to explain it in simple layman’s terms that you understand. Remember there is a difference in equipment and the AV company should be able to admit when the other company chose effective equipment, not just down talk the competition.
Is the staffing enough to satisfy your service expectations?
This can be a huge discrepancy between quotes sometimes. You might look at one quote and wonder why they gave you one AV technician and the other company gave you three. Ask the company what their game plan is for the staff and how they will service your event. For example, if you have 10 breakout rooms, will 2 technicians roam and cover those 10 rooms or do you want to have 1 person in each room watching the AV needs like a hawk? There isn’t anything wrong about these but they definitely offer pros and cons of each. For example, the roaming technicians are definitely a cost effective option but if there are too many simultaneous problems, they may not be able to service them all. Also, it takes a very experienced and efficient technician to solve problems quickly and move room to room. Now having a technician in each room might be needed because you have a lot of activity happening in those rooms and you want to make sure they run flawlessly and that’s worth the extra cost to you. Again, just ask what their game plan is and they can easily explain and make sure that matches what you are looking for.
How much power do you need for this?
This somewhat goes back to the question of “Does this include all of my costs and fees?”. For most small events, the AV company can tap into the walls into the outlets but for some medium to larger events, they AV company is going to need additional power. In addition to how much power do you need, it is important to ask what type of power is needed (believe it or not, there is many types). A great follow up to how much power are you going to need is “Do I need to order that and pay for it, or are you?” At Endless, we prefer to take care of the bill for the client so if we need more power, the client doesn’t have to worry about it, we do.
Does this quote match the riders or the needs of the talent/speakers?
A rider is a set of requirements that talent or a speaker may require to do their performance or presentation. Everyone has heard the story of one artist asking for a bowl of just blue M&Ms. Riders serve a very important purpose even though they may sound ridiculous at times. While riders are completely negiotatable, it is my personal belief that a rider serves an important purpose and that is to create an atmosphere where the talent can do their best work so sometimes giving them what they want will allow them to do even better. However, sometimes it’s easy for them to be forgotten. It’s important to make sure none of your talent has any riders or special requests. For example, does the speaker you have do really well with hand gestures and would be benefitted from a lapel microphone versus a handheld? Do they need a confidence monitor to see what is on screen? Ask your talent and presenters if there is anything they need, and then relay that to the AV team. Yes sometimes these add extra costs, but ask your AV company to explain what is a simple cost like an adapter, and what is ridiculous, like sharks with lasers on their heads.
What do I need to provide you to make this all work?
The ideal answer to this question is nothing obviously, but sometimes some critical items can be left off of a quote to save money or because the AV company doesn’t provide it. For example, who is providing the laptop to run the presentations? If you are having people bring their own laptops, is the AV company including all of the necessary video adapters? Additional question to ask is who is providing the content. For example, do you need to have a sponsor slideshow with logos? Are you making that or is the AV company? Ensure it is noted on your quote so there is no question of who is providing the content. Asking if there is anything you need to provide is very important and at Endless, whenever a client promise to provide something like a laptop or something else, we always make note of it on the quote so there is no dispute.
What is the format of the content? Powerpoint or Keynote? High definition or Standard definition?
This might be the most technically overlooked part of events with some sort of presentation. If the AV company is providing the laptop, it becomes even more important. Knowing whether your presentations and content is going to be 16×9 (widescreen or sometimes also high definition) or 4×3 can make the difference between your presentations looking great, and looking, well, blah. For example, if your AV company provides you 16×9 screens and all of your presentations are 4×3, you’ll have awkward blank spots on the sides of your presentation (with the reverse, you’ll have awkward blank bars on the top and bottoms of your screens). Lastly, if the AV company is providing the laptops for presentations, I would recommend they have Macs. The reasoning is most Macs have Keynote by default, but also most presentation laptops will also have Powerpoint. With a PC or Windows computer, they cannot run Keynote without converting it. It’s important to clarify what type of presentations will be shown.
Bonus tip: When you decide whether what format your presentations will be in, communicate that to all of your presenters and make sure they all have the same format of presentation, so there is consistency.
I wanted to end on this point because usually after you have figured out all of the details, usually the talk about price will be brought up for your event. This is also when people usually request discounts. I, obviously, come from the AV supplier side of the conversations so I just wanted to bring up some thoughts as you ask for your next discount. While I am on the side of growing my company (which in a captalist society is about growing revenue and profits), I am not 100% against discounts believe it or not, and I bet it’s safe to assume that most AV companies are the same. However, there is need to be some give and take when it comes to discounts. So if you like your AV vendor but you just really need to get the quote into a certain budget, it’s important to do the obvious and ask for a discount. We recommend telling the AV company what you need the quote to get to, and we’ll do our best. Do not hide your desire for a quote through things like “well the other company said they’d do it for X” or sending our quotes out to other vendors and asking them to beat it. Just ask us what price you need and we’ll do what we can. Now the question becomes, why would an AV company be willing to give you a discount? This is an important question to ask yourself when getting a discount. Is the AV company see long term potential in your relationship? Is there a large amount of availability and they would rather make some money versus no money? Are you a non-profit and they want to deduct your discount from their taxes? When asking for a discount, it’s important to offer something in return. Most sales people don’t want to give a discount, do a great job at the event, and then never be called again. So at minimum, if you are getting a discount, and the AV company does a satisfactory job at the event, I think it is reasonable for that AV company to earn the next event and not have to “fight” to keep you as a client. Remember that giving a discount means that the AV company is missing out on an opportunity to make money, so think to yourself, if I were an AV company, how can I make up for this discount either in the short term or long term? Discounts should always have a large conversation around them full of clarification so every party is happy.
I hope this article was helping when you are looking at your next AV quote. Remember that your AV supplier is your partner so if you ever have any questions, do not be afraid to ask, and they should be happy to answer your questions. If you have any questions about AV quotes or more ideas on what you should be clarifying, leave us a comment below and we’d love to hear it!
About Will Curran
Information junkie, energetic, and work-a-holic are just some of the words we can use to describe Will. Aside from spending 20 out of 24 hours a day working as the President of Endless, 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. On a serious note, Will does a great job leading the team and thinking of new ways to make Endless Entertainment excel. His drive and dedication to Endless Entertainment keep the rest of the staff going strong.