As an experienced meeting planner, I used to schedule and talk to my event audio visual rental company early in the process and then basically when they arrived on site. However, I have learned through many years and many mistakes, that process doesn’t work well, especially for large, complex events. So now, I use the MASS approach to communicate with my audio visual rental vendor, especially when it comes to "change" management.
So, what is MASS communication? Simply stated, it is an acronym that stands for:
Usually, these get shifted during the last couple of weeks before the event. They might start happening a few days before, a day before, or (gasp!) during your event. This happens when breakout sessions become too big or too small for the space. Because event audio visual firms usually rely on schematics to set up and strike the room, it is imperative that you let them know, as soon as you know. This situation is only going become more fluid in the coming months and years, with agendas and registrations going to mobile applications.
It always amazes me how optimistic clients and event meeting planners are about attendance. They always think there is going to be a mad rush in registration 24 to 72 hours before the event. As if someone whispers in the potential attendee’s ear "it’s time to register for that event." If that doesn’t happen, the client is always hopeful for a huge walk-in population. Face it, folks! This almost never happens. Let your audiovisual partner know about your registered attendance one month, 3 weeks, 1 week, 3 days, and 1 day before your event. Give true numbers, not what you wish for!
A speaker canceled, your association general sessions is running over by 30 minutes, a break out needs to go because of a low number of requests for it. Let your AV team know immediately when these things happen. Have their cell phones, set up walkie-talkies, email or tweet to them…it doesn’t matter what you use…but when you know, they know.
You told your audiovisual rental team you were going to set up the room in crescent rounds and one day before the event, you decided a U-shape configuration would be better. This is going to affect your AV team; for example, the projector and screen rentals may be different due to the viewing angle of the audience. When and if you decide to change the set up, let the AV team know right away. Ask them if the audiovisual rental needs will change and if it does, how will it affect the budget.