5 tips to creating a mutually beneficial working environment

By Jeff Loether

Outsourcing audiovisual services is a viable option for many hotels. In addition to lowering operational and labor costs, it ensures that your guests receive professional equipment and support. While the provider will handle most of the day-to-day responsibilities, the hotel should still plan and budget for the service and maintenance of any built-in AV systems and infrastructure. This will allow the AV services provider to deliver services as efficiently as possible, creating a win for them, you and your guests.

If outsourcing is the business model that best suits your event operations, here are some tips to create a mutually beneficial working environment:

1. Upkeep of Existing Built-in Systems

There may be built-in “house sound” systems and/or some type(s) of presentation displays (wall-mounted flat-panels or screens and projectors) that were purchased by the Owner or Management. The guests and meeting planners expect to be able to use the built-in systems, and this equipment must be properly maintained and updated. This responsibility belongs to the Hotel. Develop a preventative maintenance program and work with a local AV contractor to make sure the Owner’s technology assets are in top operating condition. Your AV vendor may or may not have this type of capability but may be able to connect you with a qualified provider if they do not.

2. Storage & Staff Offices

Since out-sourced AV services providers rely primarily on the use of their own portable AV equipment, the venue needs to identify sufficient storage space for the equipment the vendor needs to keep on-site. This varies widely depending on the type of events and level of services. For some hotels a few hundred square feet plus a desk is sufficient. Larger venues may require storage for not only basic AV equipment, but trussing, lighting kits, and even parking for scissor lifts. As a general guideline, AV storage should equal about 2% of the property’s meeting and event space.

3. Scheduling

When scheduling meetings and room changes where portable equipment is required, be sure to allow enough time for the technicians to deliver, set up, and adjust the AV systems before the event and sufficient time for striking the portable AV equipment when the event concludes. This may require coordination with the setting of the tables and chairs to not block access. Always include the AV vendor in all standard event-related planning meetings.

4. Space Planning/Capacity

When considering the room layout for a large event that requires production support, anticipate the location and size of the tech stations that the AV services provider will need to use. These are typically set up in the rear of the space and range from a single table to raised platforms for large show crews. If possible, keep banquet rounds and the back row of tables away from these tech stations since the technicians are often communicating directions or cues during the event. This can become distracting to guests seated nearby.

5. Pricing

When negotiating agreements with AV service providers understand that the unintended consequences of a large commission back to the hotel may be high pricing of these services to meeting planners. This may require the provider to offer discounts that may be taken primarily from the hotel’s share of the revenue, reducing the overall commission to a lower percentage. It is best to discuss this with the provider and ensure that they can offer their services for fees that are competitive in the marketplace.