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Which Way do YOU go?

In-House AV Team/Supplier or External AV Supplier?

 The Quality of AV Support and Equipment can make or break your event :–

Choosing the right AV Support for an important live event requires serious consideration from the organisers as there are many variables to be faced, for example: –

  • Does the venue have an in-house AV team or a preferred AV supplier?
  • Do you want to use an AV supplier you have worked with before?
  • Is an Event Booking agency involved who may use their own AV supplier?
  • Does your company have a list of preferred AV suppliers to choose from?
  • Do you have to go out to tender and select the cheapest?

All these possible options are dependent on: –

  • Your available budget.
  • Your freedom to choose an external AV supplier.
  • Your Company/Organisation procurement policy.
  • Do you leave the choice to your booking agency?
  • Do you have to use the venue’s own internal team/preferred AV supplier?

Recent industry reports clearly show that in many cases larger venues are dictating to their clients that they must use the venue’s own in-house team or their preferred external AV supplier.

Fortunately many good venues have no such policy thereby letting their clients make their own choice as to who they use. But evidence is there to highlight the fact that some large venues definitely push their own in-house team or supplier in preference to the client’s own choice.

If a client declines to use the venues own AV resources then the venue can easily make life very difficult and awkward for the unsuspecting AV supplier

They do this by inflicting extortionate additional costs on a client’s preferred AV supplier for the use of the venues own facilities such as power, built-in trussing, sound systems, data projection or lighting.

First-hand experience has shown us that these charges can run into many hundreds of pounds if not thousands, all costs that are not born by their own team or their preferred AV supplier. So when it comes down to competitive tendering the additional costs inflicted on a client’s preferred  AV supplier makes them uncompetitive by a long way, where is the fairness in that?

They can also limit the amount of installation an external AV supplier can do at the venue before stating that only their own “experienced” staff or only someone from their events team, can tighten that fixture or extend that fixing point or move that light, and of course everything they do is chargeable.

All this is done under the pretext of their Health & Safety Policy, of course one which they have written themselves, or their insurance policy. Strange when all AV companies have to have extensive Third Party Insurance cover for a minimum of £5/£10m, so what are they worried about?

No, they are not worried, just mean and they justify these practises by silly comments such as “We want to provide a one-stop shop” or “We want only the best for the client” and to crown it all “Our own team provide the best value for money,” for whom one wonders!

As we have said, most of the larger event venues either have their own in-house AV team or use a preferred external AV supplier, so before we are accused of being biased we must state that we have experienced both sides of the argument. For many years we were preferred AV suppliers to a number of major event venues in the UK either by having an AV team on site or servicing a venue from one of our AV centres.

During our time with these venues we witnessed many incidents that clearly showed they had no scruples whatsoever when it came to securing an event, we saw total disregard for H&S Regulations on maximum permitted delegate numbers in conference rooms.

We have experienced important clients having to totally reorganise their event, after the hotel had moved them on the day before the event was due to start, to another room with totally different dimensions and totally unsuitable for their needs, we were left to pick up the pieces, pacify the client, physically change the shape of a conference set already built and find alternative projection lens, all this at our own cost.

We have known valued clients who have had long standing confirmed conference rooms bookings cancelled by the venue one week prior to when the event was due to take place, they were not offered any alternatives and then left to source a new venue themselves or face cancelling their conference. If the client raised an objection to this type of treatment the venues would tell them to look at the small print in their contract, where all these possible options are stated.

If we, as their AV suppliers. expressed any kind of dissent over these actions particularly if it was one of our own long standing customers that we had introduced to the venue, we were told in no uncertain terms, by the hotel’s directors themselves, that it was none of our business and did we want to continue working at the hotel, in the end it came too much and we sort other income streams.

No matter who you use as an AV supplier, nothing can protect you from the vagaries of certain hotels and venues if they wish to disregard your interests in the way we have described. Everyone involved in the events industry know full well nothing is easy, it is a fraught business, and AV is just one part of it, but it is an important part that has its own special potential problems.

It cannot be disputed that by working with an AV supplier known to you over the years and with whom both of you have created a really good working partnership has to be preferable to having another AV supplier hoisted on you by the venue or company policy.

All live events are a team business and only by acting as a team can you hope to have a good experience and only by using that team time and time again can you iron out any problems and perfect the talent and team work you are looking for.

New technology is being introduce into live events all the time and the rate of integration will only increase, so whether or not you move to embrace this big leap forward should be of importance to you. Who is best placed to assist you with advice on all the implications of such a move and how it could or could not work for you?

The answer must be the AV supplier you have worked with on many events and totally trust. They know your needs, your style, your likes and dislikes, your budgets and they know just how you operate and what your objectives are.

To summarise:-

If you have managed to read through this article you will have concluded that we do have strong opinions on the event industry, most of them good and some not so good.

Here at Mercian Events we strive to run an honest AV supply business that is totally upfront with clients, we do not cut corners or ever think second best will do, therefore over the years we have inevitably rub shoulders with parts of the industry who thinks otherwise.

We must say, without any reservations, that all the hotels and venues we are currently working with pass all our scrutiny test with flying colours. They put the client first and in doing so always provide a good experience and we enjoy working with them, we just wish all venues large and small would adopt a similar approach.


Mercian Events