What does “in-house” even mean? In this case, “in-house” refers to the contracted audio visual or AV supplier within a hotel, convention center or other venue. When meeting and event planners book a venue, they are often referred or encouraged to use the venue’s in-house AV supplier for their event. It is a common misconception that the in-house supplier is the obvious and clear choice for AV support, due to sheer convenience. Sourcing a quote from an outside AV supplier allows for planners to compare pricing and service against that of an in-house supplier. I think we can all agree that in a budget conscious industry, it is imperative for planners to ensure that they are getting the absolute best value for every aspect of their event.
As an Account Manager with Toronto’s Quest Audio Visual, I have the pleasure of working closely with event planners on a daily basis. Throughout my career, I have had countless conversations with clients regarding the misconceptions surrounding the use of in-house AV suppliers for their events. I decided it was time to address and debunk these “in-house myths” once and for all.
Why does the venue want me to use the in-house AV supplier?
Most venues will receive a commission when booking AV services through the in-house supplier that they are contracted with. Bringing in an outside AV supplier who is not required to pay commissions, allows for you to ensure that you are receiving the most value for your budget.
Do I have to use the in-house AV supplier?
Unless the venue has a specific exclusivity clause stated in the contract, the answer is NO. Some venues may charge a fee for bringing in an outside supplier, however, often these fees can be negotiated out of the contract during the booking process. Outside AV suppliers are well aware of the variables involved in competing with a venue’s in-house supplier. In most cases, the outside AV supplier will work with you to help offset any additional costs incurred for bringing in an outside supplier.
The in-house AV supplier is always the obvious choice, right?
In-house AV suppliers are often responsible for managing numerous events taking place in the same venue at the same time. This means that you may not receive their dedicated attention if technicians have to run between events, unless you have specifically billed for it. By contracting an outside AV supplier of your choosing, you are paying for dedicated support for your event – and only yours.
When planning your next event, remember to ask yourself these crucial, yet often overlooked, questions:
- Does the venue have any sort of exclusivity clause that contractually binds me to use their in-house AV supplier?
- Are there any additional costs for bringing in an outside AV supplier that I should be aware of prior to signing the venue contract?
- If so, can I request to exclude this clause from the contract to leave my options open?
- Have I received a competing quote from an outside AV supplier to ensure I’m getting the best value?
- Will my AV supplier provide a dedicated project manager available before, during and after my event?
- During my event, what will their availability be like? (i.e. How many simultaneous events are they expected to handle?)
- Will my AV supplier provide floorplans or renderings so I can actually visualize my event?
- Am I completely comfortable with the list of equipment provided? (Don’t be afraid to ask questions!)
After all, the audio visual component of your event is the channel in which your message is conveyed to your audience. If you’re accountable for effectively delivering that message, you should feel confident about the team that you have to execute.