Search Google for in-house AV versus outside production company and you get a long list of articles and blog posts complaining about venues requiring the use of their preferred in-house AV company. Our opinion is a little different from many of those writing these articles and posts because we don’t own AV equipment. As event producers and directors we contract the AV equipment (at no mark-up) from the vendor that best fits the requirements and needs of an event.
I have no financial motivation for a client to use outside AV versus the in-house provider. While most of our work is done with outside equipment vendors, there are jobs where it makes sense to use the in-house AV provider. There are also many events where we partner with both an outside equipment vendor for the general session and in-house for breakouts. The decision on AV providers should be based on the best fit for the event and should always be focused on the client’s preference, not the venue’s preference.
When communicating with a venue during their property search, we always encourage our clients to include language that provides them the opportunity to bring in outside AV with no penalty. This is important even though the selection of an AV provider is historically far down the to-do list when planning an event.
What Language to Include
Include language such as “we reserve the right to bring in our preferred vendor for AV with no penalty or additional fees” as part of your first contact with prospective venues. If the venue pushes back we sometimes encourage clients to include language that says that they will secure a bid from in-house AV firm but still reserve the right to bring in their preferred vendor with no penalty or additional charges.
One thing I have never understood about venues forcing planners to use the in-house ‘preferred’ AV company is why the preference of the hotel trumps the preference of the event planner. Why should I as a producer or the event planner I work with care about the relationship the hotel may or may not have with their ‘preferred’ vendor? When a producer or planner has their own relationship with an AV company isn’t that the preference that should be important?