Should You Hire the Hotel AV Department
When planning an event at a local or out-of-state hotel, the time will come when you must decide whether to use the in-house hotel av department or hire a third-party A/V vendor.
There will be many factors in determining your decision. The important factor will be your relationship with the hotels audio visual department and how they are treating you. It goes without asking, “how important is this event to you?” as they are all important. I am sure with each event you plan, your intention is a flawless execution that excites the audience.
I have worked closely with many hotel AV departments. I have even hired hotel audio visual staff as our freelance technicians. I have found many skilled technicians with personality and great customer service and many technicians without either. Often times it will not be a matter of their level of skill or A/V knowledge but their lack of customer service and empathy. The big difference between using a hotel in house audio visual department or a third-party A/V vendor is their customer service and price.
In this Article We Will Discuss Both Service and Price
Customer Service! An in-house hotel’s A/V department often gets overwhelmed and cares less about the client’s wants and needs. They have very little invested in how well the show goes because their clients often fall into their laps. Hotels and their A/V departments are often connected by contracts. While many hotels will allow you to bring in a third-party vendor, many hotels are trying to run third-party vendors away by increasing the required insurance certificate minimums and/or running interference to make the set up and breakdown laborious.
Last year we had a horrible experience in Philadelphia after a three day event. We were rushed out of a hotel and forced to breakdown and clear the room, in less than 30 minutes. This left us with major tangled wires and broken equipment. In addition, we had to do this while the hotel reset the room around us and another company loading in, starting their set up.
Hotels can make life miserable for visiting A/V vendors. However, clients are choosing outside A/V vendors often based on their past experience with using the in-house department. The market was created by the performance of the in-house department. While in-house audio visual department’s are often providing A/V services for many events occurring simultaneously, a third-party vendor will staff your one event with technicians that are only focusing on your one event at that time. Our employees and technicians have a thorough understanding that our client’s satisfaction is imperative. Secondly they understand that our existence relies on repeat business. We do not have any clients that fall into our laps. We have to work hard to gain our business and continue to work…to keep it.
The second difference is price! If the in-house hotel audio visual department is required to ‘kick back’ a fee to the hotel, which many are required to do, then they will never be able to beat the pricing of an outside A/V company. If a ‘kickback’ is not required then the hotel is setting the audio visual prices and paying a portion back to the in-house audio visual department. Either method leaves the in-house department with little flexibility to discount. One method where our pricing can get beat is the leverage the hotel has to comp the audio visual equipment rental. Usually if the hotel is comping the audio visual they are making it up in the cost of the food or other chargeable areas. A client often decides to go with the in-house hotel audio visual department based on a false level of confidence that the in-house is located on the property so their response time will be immediate. If you do enough shows in a hotel you quickly learn this is not true. However, if our technician is on site during your event then our response time is absolutely immediate.
One of our other blogs speaks about itemized pricing. To read this blog click the link below.
Itemized Pricing Blog:
In closing I advise event planners to always get comparative quotes and definitely use your past experience with the in-house audio visual department as a major deciding factor. If you have an awesome relationship with a hotel in-house audio visual department by all means use them. There are many great hotel audio visual departments that will provide you with a pleasant A/V experience. If that has not been your experience call us immediately.
A.V. Rental Services, Inc.
4039 Comly Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19135
Itemized Pricing and Giving Away Trade Secrets
You may have noticed, it can be like pulling teeth with some vendors if you request itemized pricing. Two of the few, if only industries that have been able to hold on to their “trade-secrets” are the medical trade and mortgage lending. However, if you did the research, you could write your own mortgage. One of the last industries to succumb to the “give everything away for free” business model is the paper media industry. Newspapers fought the long hard fight to maintain paper subscriptions even while free news stared them in the face, online.
When it comes to social media the major theme is “give everything away.” A company needs to make money but sustainability is achieved by forming long lasting relationships with your client community. Give everything you can, away for free. By everything, I mean information. Promote transparency and no more secrets. This is a heavy request for some industries but not so much for others. The old school taught many to hold on to their knowledge and industry secrets. Imagine if you will, Company A keeps its secrets ‘close to its chest’ and Company B is more forthcoming. Company B has Open House events at their office, gives tours, readily answers emails clearly from end-users trying to do it themselves. In addition, Company B provides quotes with every item quoted, priced individually. When a client eventually needs the billable services of A or B, which Company will the client probably prefer to do business with? Company B.
Building a Community and Relationships Online
I believe the payoff is in the community and relationships you develop by being transparent. The internet is filled with answers and information. Most likely the information you choose to withhold is readily available somewhere, on the internet. I sit on the board of the International Technology Rental Association and the membership is split on the value of social media. Everyone can see value in maintaining a presence but we are split in how much time should be dedicated to gaining more presence. I must say, I fall on the side of dedicating time for increasing your internet and social media presence.
One secret still held close to some company’s chest is itemized pricing; especially in the service oriented field. Maintaining a competitive advantage used to depend on keeping the client in the dark on the details of how the end total is achieved. Pricing an entire event as an event planner is similar to pricing the audio visual only, for large A/V events; it is priced as a package. At A.V. Rental Service, Inc. we publish our standard price list here for all the world to see. The negative backlash I hear is “this could run customers off if they think something is too expensive.” True, but the value and appreciation we receive for being transparent, well outweighs a losing a possible DIY client. In addition, I would rather be a little out of someone’s budget online than publish an unbelievably low price and later force the client to pay a hidden charge, which some companies do; leaving a bad taste in the client’s mouth. There are times and special events that we are able to offer the lowest available price that still allows us to make a profit. These are special situations where there may be value for us in another manner. In 2014, we provided a large amount of audio visual and lighting equipment for a medium sized booth on the New York Comic Con main floor. At the end of the day, we did not make a profit from the equipment rental but what we did achieve is contacts for future projects, resources for future New York business, hours of video footage and we met DMC, of Run DMC fame(Joke). My point is we did profit from taking the gig and basically giving everything away.
Alternatively, know…when to charge and how much.
In an effort to gain clientele some new companies succumb to the pressure to offer the lowest price to win a contract. Eventually you learn… you may not want to win every contract or event you bid on. Being aware of the value of your services is one thing but remaining steadfast at that number can be a challenge when faced with the possibility of losing a contract. The value of a company’s services is determined by the company. Making that determination can be one of the hardest task. Again, being confident in that final determined value is imperative. In the event planning business, ‘value-added’ pricing and ‘skim pricing’ works in the best interest of the company and the client. Educating the client is at the heart of this business model. Ensuring your client understands the value of your service is of the utmost importance to your client agreeing to your price. So take them on that tour of your facility, explain in detail exactly how you plan to execute their vision. In your estimates, include detailed drawings, diagrams and specification sheets that will not only overwhelm them with information but make them feel comfortable and confident they will be making the correct choice by using your company.
Bruce L. Johnson Jr.
A.V. Rental Services, Inc.
Are you contemplating NOT using uplighting for a wedding?
In a perfect world, where the sky is the limit; I recommend placing 1 Par Uplight every 4 feet. Additionally, in this scenario I would be placing pars on every wall within the reception room. Lastly, in this same scenario we would incorporate a DMX controller to change the lighting throughout the night. For Instance, if the wedding has a 3-color scheme and 3 walls with uplighting, we could assign one of the colors to each wall and then later have the entire room in one of the 3 colors and fade between the other two, slowly. Most weddings are on a smaller scale and as the budget decreases, the distance increases between each Par Uplight. More often than not, we are placing 1 par every 8-10 feet. Another option for lowering your overall Lighting expense is maybe choosing only 2 walls for uplighting.
Well, A.V. Rental Services, Inc is now offering a $199 UpLighting Package.
Now hold on, The $199 Package only gives you 4 Wireless Puck Par Uplights but 4 Uplights can make a great difference and add some very attractive color in your reception room. Plus, that price includes set up and delivery!
Full Disclosure: The great benefit with the Wireless Puck Par uplights is the fact they are battery powered and capable of using wireless DMX. This cuts down on our labor cost; we arrive to the venue, set up the lights and are ‘out of there’ in about 30 minutes. This means much lower labor cost, which translates to the lower rental charge and thus the $199 4 Puck Package!
Regardless of your wedding budget I highly recommend saving a portion for Lighting. With our new $199 4-Puck Uplighting Package it is more doable than ever.
Let A.V. Rental Services, Inc. ‘UpLighten’ your wedding Load and impress your new In-Laws!