Written by Susan A. Friedmann,CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, Lake Placid, NY, internationally recognized expert working with companies to increase their profitability at tradeshows and events.Author: “Riches in Niches: How to Make it BIG in a small Market” and “Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies.” For a free copy of “Exhibiting Success” sign up for “Tradeshow Tips Newsletter” at www.thetradeshowcoach.com )
Placing an Audio Visual order can be very intimidating and is not often the expertise of the event producer, but is an area we can all learn to feel more familiar and confidant in. You should feel comfortable asking questions, requiring a detailed proposal and requesting site checks.
AV Teams know this is not your expertise and the team you go with should be very considerate and friendly, rather than condesending, when you ask questions. It's fine, and smart, to ask which brand of lapel microphones they carry and how often they experience feedback from these mics. It's fine to ask for clarification on items listed on the proposal. By asking questions before the order is placed you'll probably create a package that is more appropriate for your event than if you kept quiet.
The AV team should provide you with a very detailed proposal, indicating the brand and make of every item and the associated cost/line item. It is very easy to compare bids when details are provided. If you have a smaller event, say under 30 people, and a $2500 projector is being proposed, question it - perhaps the sales person has several levels of projectors and for the size room you have, the highest end projector is not necessary. Really studying the bids will help you understand why one company costs more than another and perhaps the more expensive company is providing equipment that can be scaled down.
AV Teams can create a better proposal when they join you on venue site check, ideally before you place the order. By taking the time to see the venue before hand, you and the AV lead have the opportunity to discover potential challenges, view specific locations for the equipment and assess the existing equipment. Expect many adjustments to the order after the site check. Better now than day of event.
When placing an order your AV team will benefit from seeing an agenda, no matter how fluid. Knowing the flow of the event, how many speakers are on stage at once, what time you an access the venue, etc. all play a role in the AV order.
AV takes a long time to load in and load out. When placing your order you'll want to discuss the load in and load out procedures and confirm these appear in the contract. Often the venue has guidelines or curfews that must be respected and you want your AV team to be aware of these restrictions.
Placing an AV order is not easy, but is an area you become more comfortable with every time you do it. An example of a "small show" AV order can be found in the event templates
section. Just keep asking questions.