The Debate Over In-House vs. Outside Vendors When Renting Audio Visual Equipment
Apr 30, 2012 by DeDe Mulligan

Choice

When event planners book a hotel or conference center, they are often told that they are required or encouraged to use their in-house AV company for the meeting. The pitch goes something like this:

"We would like you to use XYZ Company for your event because they have all their equipment onsite, their pricing is available to you right now, and they are very familiar with our venue." 

Sounds good, right? Maybe yes and maybe no. Here are 6 things to consider when engaging with any AV provider, from an equipment, budget, and resource prospective. 

Check the employee turnover rate of the providers you are considering. 

If the in-house supplier has a large turnover rate, especially their AV technicians, the playing field is level with any outside provider. That in-house supplier may actually have LESS experience at the meeting facility than the outside vendor. Ask this question of all your potential providers because long-term employment with minimum turnover shows stability within the organization. 

The in-house supplier is working for the hotel, not for you.

Sad, but true. The in-house AV company is most interested in keeping the people at the hotel happy; where an outside partner is contracted directly with you, the event planner. The outside company wants you to call on them again and again for business, so they will do everything in their power to keep you satisfied. "Just because an AV company has a good relationship with a hotel (or pays them a fat commission) doesn't mean I or my client gets the best service," said James Maynard, Director at Adventure Sports. 

Send out at least 3 RFPs, including one to the in-house company. 

Merle Klein, Director of Meeting Operations at MFM Lamey Group said, "Bids from in-house companies are almost always WAY over the top." Remember, a cut of what the in-house provider charges you is going directly to the venue. 

EVERYTHING is negotiable. 
 
Many times the hotel or conference services staff will require you to use the in-house AV provider or pay a 25% up-charge if you do not. The truth of the matter is everything is negotiable, as long as you do it before you sign on the dotted line with the venue. For more information about this, see the blog post AV Bill of Rights.
 
If you have many events in a given year at multiple venues, an outside vendor makes sense. 
 
An in-house team only knows their venue and if you are holding 10 or 15 regional events, you will need to train the AV staff at each facility over and over again. Contracting with one event audio visual company to travel with you from site-to-site will be more efficient and cost effective. 
 
Know what type of equipment you need. 
 
Before going out to bid, know exactly what type of interactive technology tool rentals you need to make your event successful. Many times the in-house provider has a limited equipment selection. Because AV is usually a significant portion of the planner's budget and instrumental to the success of the event, having the right type of equipment is paramount. 
 
Are you event planning in California? Call on AV Event Solutions to provide you with stat-of-the-art technology choices! 
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