Every meeting planner knows that even the most dynamic, impactful and talked-about meetings in a planner’s career can hardly be considered successes if they went massively over budget. Since A/V plays such a large role, planners should seek to work closely with their A/V supplier to make sure a rational technology budget is in place.
NJM+E: When it comes to event planning, what are some of the best practices for optimizing your technology budget?
AT: No. 1, involve the A/V technology suppliers as early as possible. Proactively bring the A/V vendor(s) into the initial discussions, because their involvement while developing the meeting’s business goals and objectives will allow the planners to match the event’s objectives with the technology requirements. No. 2 is budget for value, not costs. The value equation in the event A/V profession is service + price = value. Simply seeking the lowest pricing can end up in disaster if the service is defi- cient (i.e. audio isn’t clear, equipment issues not fixed rapidly, etc.).
NJM+E: How can a planner make sure the A/V vendor doesn’t overcharge?
AT: By leaving out the assumptions and “facts unknown” in a meeting plan. The more facts and details acquired by the planner (and shared with the A/V vendors) the easier it will be for them to fine-tune the estimate by avoiding caveats (when possible) and developing the best possible set of costs.
NJM+E: Can meeting and event pros still effectively negotiate on budget with A/V vendors when they’re so closely involved in the planning process?
AT: Yes, absolutely, however it’s important to pick the right TIME to negotiate, which is AFTER you’ve developed a compre- hensive list of the needed equipment and personnel. Once completed, planners can then request quotes from multiple A/V vendors, then compare them against each other ... and negotiate discounts on equip- ment. The better quality A/V vendors are going to be competitive, and they want to win your business.
Andrew Taffin is co-founder and CEO of Iselin-based Tallen Technology Rentals. A regular speaker at industry conferences, he is also a founding member and former president of the International Technology Rental Association (ITRA).