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Developing Successful AV Partnerships 

By: Shannon Lockwood | May, 31 2024
Meeting/Event Design & Management

Photo Credit: Pexels.com

Professionals in every field know that you are only as good as your partners, and event professionals are no exception. Nearly every event includes a myriad of vendors; venue, catering, décor, furniture, audio-visual, entertainment, the list goes on… Your audio-visual team can be one of the largest investments you make in the success of your event. Therefore, it’s incredibly important to ensure that you hire the best professionals for your budget and quickly build a strong working relationship.

When evaluating your audio-visual options, the first thing to consider is any contractual obligations, especially when you’re working in a new city or venue. Does the venue have exclusive or preferred providers? Are internet, rigging, and electrical services exclusive, but other services may be brought in? Does the venue have requirements for the minimum amount of equipment provided for a particular room or per the number of guests in attendance? Are there existing union requirements that may impact the amount of crew required to set, operate, or strike components of your show?

After you’ve assessed the questions above, you can move on to selecting a vendor. While price can be one of the most obvious differentiators, you will want to dive deeper to ensure that the vendor you are selecting is up to the challenge. Many audio-visual providers have a specialty, perhaps better described as a “sweet spot” of the type of work they do must often. If your event will include multiple keynotes and concurrent sessions, you will want to select a provider that has a network of team members that can work together cohesively. If you are hosting a large gala, with special guests, multiple camera angles, timely queues, and transitions, you will want to select a provider who is well practiced at managing these fine details with precision. Checking references for events of similar size and scope will ensure that you get an accurate picture of a vendor’s capabilities, which in turn provides the best experience for your audience. 

Once you’ve selected a vendor, you’ll want to establish clear expectations regarding deadlines and a shared production timeline. Often, audio-visual providers have an internal calendar that allows them to effectively distribute updates to their teams, as the details of the meeting evolve beyond the initial RFP or quote. Their internal calendar should be aligned to your organization’s planning timeline to ensure that deliverables are provided in a timely manner, allowing both organizations to work effectively. 

As the event approaches, ensure that you are meeting on a regular basis to review changes to the production schedule. Clearly communicating changes to the install schedule or updates to the required equipment list ensures that nothing is missed on day of your event. Finally, ensure that your project manager introduces you to the leads who will support each area of the program. Taking the time to walk through the production schedule, any available runs of show, and the content needs for each space with this larger group is critical. Allowing them to ask questions will ensure they understand the materials provided and will provide you with the opportunity to clearly communicate any of the finer details directly. This can help to eliminate many of the questions that would arise on site, streamlining your experience once you arrive at the venue. 

Following these steps will allow you to have a positive experience with a new audio-visual vendor, but is by no means an exhaustive list of best practices. What other things do you consider when building new partnerships? 

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