There is a lot of pressure involved with live events, which makes it essential to find the right AV production partner. The company you select can largely influence your event’s success, and there are various options to weigh in this process. Here are four considerations to aid in making the best decision.
1. Give Yourself Plenty of Planning Room
We’ve all been to events where one person orchestrates the entire event through sheer will. Without that person, the event may not have been the success it was. But operating this way comes with its risks. Letting an event rely on one person leaves the potential for it to all come crashing down.
Planning ahead can help mitigate certain disasters. It provides space to anticipate specific issues, handle them proactively or avoid them altogether. Thus, it’s essential to give yourself plenty of time to make plans.
When is the best time to start the collaboration process with an AV production partner? Channel Audio recommends starting 6-12 months before the event. However, for a larger event, 9-12 months is a safer planning period. Although companies can pull events off in shorter time frames, this breathing room helps prevent pitfalls.
What Will Happen if You Don’t Plan Ahead?
Many venues book up at least 6 months to a year in advance. However, an AV partner rarely enters the picture until closer to the event; sometimes only 1-3 months ahead! This can create some issues you can easily avoid if you allow ample time to plan.
Here are a few challenges you may encounter if you don’t plan ahead:
Limited AV Partner Options
A short lead time can mean the AV company you wish to partner with is unavailable. They might have other events they’re preparing for or decline the job because of the tight turnaround. Some companies only take jobs if they know they can deliver a high-quality production.
Short lead times also leave you vulnerable to higher prices. Last-minute bookings can often incur late fees, and equipment rentals, cross-rentals, trucking costs, and labor rates can add up quickly.
In addition, the AV company’s costs will also rise because they will be hard-pressed to pull off the event. Companies must complete tasks immediately, and priorities might need to be rearranged to meet deadlines.
Enhanced Risk of Low-Quality Services
Not all events will crash and burn f you don’t plan the occasion until three months out; however, the quality is likely to suffer. For example, you may not have your preferred event crew. With inflation and labor shortages, getting a premium crew at a moment’s notice is challenging.
Furthermore, you may not secure the equipment you want or need. Instead, you will need to rent what’s available. Lately, there’s a limited selection of your preferred AV equipment, and you don’t want to settle for adequacy with your event.
You can avoid all this simply by planning ahead. Being proactive allows you to secure the provider, labor, and equipment needed, and it can help your budget. It creates room for streamlining and ensuring things go as planned while having backup plans where required. The great part is that one person won’t be going crazy trying to hold your event together.
2. Have a Budget and Be Open About It
Clients may not want to talk openly about their budget right away. However, knowing your budget is crucial for your AV partner. Some people believe not being transparent with the budget will earn them better deals. When production partners aren’t aware of your budget, they can’t provide the most accurate plan.
Instead, knowing the budget will help your AV partner make your event the best it can be while meeting your needs and goals. Not knowing the budget means they won’t know when they exceed it. If a quote comes in over budget, your partner has a difficult time redesigning the plans to meet your budget. Sharing your budget upfront can prevent this painful process and save time.
Sharing a range will give your AV partner an idea to work with if you don’t have a specific number. Once your partner knows the budget, they can discuss what they can do within it, and you can work together to make sure the event is successful without going over.
3. Focus on Results Instead of Equipment
Companies choose their AV production partners for a reason. Your partner is an expert in their field and can pull off extraordinary live events, time after time. They know what it takes to accomplish a seamless event from start to finish, including the logistics, personnel, and equipment.
When having meaningful discussions with your AV partner, it’s essential to focus on the desired results rather than prescribing specific equipment. When conversing about an event, it’s best not to start by mentioning the gear you do or don’t want because you will lose the bigger picture. Instead, tell your partner what you want the event to look, feel, and sound like, and how you will measure its success.
The other possibility is that someone in your organization believes a specific piece of equipment is required but your AV partner may not be familiar with it. When a company isn’t familiar with a particular gear, they may need to cross-rent it for you, which can increase the overall cost. It’s typically ideal for the AV team to be comfortable and familiar with the equipment if they’re operating it.
Communicating the desired results of the event is beneficial to your AV production partner. It helps them connect with the event and take ownership of creating successful events and meeting goals.
4. Select the Best Partner for Your Specific Event
Different AV production partners have distinct skill sets, preferences, and experiences. Therefore, selecting the best partner for your specific event requirements and goals is essential.
Here are a few considerations when choosing the right partner for your event:
To align your values with your AV production partner, consider what you stand for and want to portray. For example, consider if your business’s style is laid-back or buttoned-up. Perhaps you represent a religious organization. Here, selecting a rock n’ roll touring production company is likely not the best fit. Differences in values can cause disconnects and disagreements. Aligning on common ground and values helps the event planning go smoothly.
Considering History and Reputation
Select an AV production partner based on their business history and reputation. You can do this by researching the type of events they usually host and see if they are like your own. Although a company may have prestigious clients, this doesn’t mean they are the right fit for your event type. For example, a company producing significant musical acts may not be the best choice for a conference event in a hotel ballroom.
It’s vital to have open communication with your AV production partner. For example, it should excite your partner to be a part of your project. A sign of open communication is engaging in the conversation and asking questions. Respectable AV companies complete their due diligence and research you and the event before meeting you. You should always partner with an AV company that wants to work with you and tries to sell their services to you, not the other way around.
Seeking Committed and Skilled Event Specialists
Finally, one last component to consider is finding an AV production partner with a thoroughly skilled team and event specialists ready to help make your event a success. Whether that means full-time employees or committed freelancers, partnering with industry professionals is vital.
When some AV companies use freelancers who come and go, you may not hold their focus ahead of your event because they’re working from show to show. Thus, it’s more challenging to plan ahead. Due to their knowledge of subsequent productions and capacity to plan, full-time event specialists and freelancers have the time and attention to devote to every detail of your event.
Additionally, find a designated lead from your AV partner. This professional will act as a point of contact and handle new requests, troubleshoot issues and answer any questions. Understanding who to address when you have service questions or event updates can help you contact them directly. As a result, the company’s liaison can reach out to you with event questions or challenges
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Austin Mittelstadt