10 THINGS Every Meeting Planner Should Know
1. Share Your Meeting Goals Your AV provider has a better chance of fulfilling the vision you have for your meeting, if he or she knows your goal for the event and the environment. This will help your AV provider come up with a proposal in line with your expectations and hopefully exceeding them. Is the event formal, celebratory, politically sensitive or proprietary? For example, if material is proprietary, there may be a need to encrypt the microphones, recordings and streaming.
2. Look Before You Sign Look through any venue contract carefully before you sign it. One of the contract clauses a planner should look for is whether or not there is a restriction or a penalty (to the client) on using an outside AV vendor versus the onproperty preferred provider. Such clauses can often be negotiated out of any agreement. It is also a good idea to verify the exclusivity of using an outside provider. There is nothing wrong with healthy competition — ask for bids from both the in-house provider and your external preferred vendors. An AV provider may be in-house at one venue and external at another.
3. Consult an AV Professional Before You Sign Before signing a contract with a venue, ask for the advice of an AV professional, whether it’s the in-house AV provider or an outside provider you know. This will give you some insight into any known issues about doing a meeting or event in a particular venue (e.g., power availability, sightlines, chandeliers). Remember: Making smart and informed decisions about AV issues should become a partnership with a common goal — to make THE CLIENT look good!
4. Know the AV Budget and Divulge It Be upfront about your AV budget, so a bidding company knows the number to hit in order to be considered or just to make the first cut. Also, divulge what other standard parameters must be met to be considered, such as whether or not the AV company must be green, if live streaming will be required or other must-haves. Some vendors may be able to tell that a particular event or meeting is not for them, saving time for both parties.
5. Determine Gear Before Choosing the Site An AV provider can help you determine what kind of gear is needed to meet your goals, to make a proper judgment of the room or look for a different one. A good portion of the success of a meeting or event is going to depend on whether or not the AV requirements of the presenters have been met. The chosen space may be a huge factor in it.
6. Ask About Billing Ahead of Time You will want to know how the final event will be billed, including equipment, service charges and taxes, so there are no surprises at the end of a successful event. Have the billing conversation before the event takes place. Audiovisual technology is a necessity for today’s meetings. So it’s more important than ever for meeting planners to select a facility that allows audiovisual to be used to its fullest potential. Here are a few suggestions to make you a savvy meeting planner the next time you meet with your hotel sales staff, rental and staging pro, or show producer. What to Know or Do Ahead of Time
7. Why Ceiling Matters, TRUE Ceiling Height Ideally, you will take your AV provider with you to check out a venue and look for obvious architectural issues — columns, built-in stages, chandelier placement and height, power location and capacity, sprinkler heads and track lighting. This all determines equipment needs and limitations. If your screens or presenters are going to be blocked from full view by the audience by any of these items, it may be time to discuss alternatives.
8. What About Rigging? Are there house regulations to mount the lighting you’ll want for your event? More and more, the host venue mandates certain services as exclusive — rigging, power, high-speed Internet access (HSIA) — and will then leverage the price for those services in favor of the in-house AV provider. Some venues prohibit rigging all together, so double check that rigging can be accommodated. Or suggest alternatives to your client.
9. Load-In Matters AV gear is big and heavy. So it’s a good idea to know if a truck can pull up to the venue, if there’s a loading dock or not, whether there’s a freight elevator or only a shared elevator with hotel staff, and what the available times are for load-in and load-out. Be aware of the path from loading dock to the meeting or event space — are there ramps, what are the corridor sizes, are there alternate route options? Even one stairwell could increase time and possibly cost.
10. HVAC and Audio Patches An AV provider needs to know what the facilities’ HVAC policies are, when AC or heat will be turned on or off, and who controls it. Some equipment-intensive meetings may require guaranteed overnight temperatures. Conversely, some properties kill all power overnight in the spirit of conserving energy. How noisy are air handlers? This affects the quality of the meeting in progress.
Audiovisual technology is a necessity for today’s meetings. So it’s more important than ever for meeting planners to select a facility that allows audiovisual to be used to its fullest potential. InfoComm.org has shared a full list with us. Here are a few suggestions to make you a savvy meeting planner the next time you meet with your hotel sales staff, rental and staging pro, or show producer
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