This post was written by Will Curran, President & Founder of Endless Entertainment
When I first started my company in high school, I did not have the luxury of owning all of my own equipment or having a staff big enough to execute the massive events I was producing, because of this I had to hire a lot of AV and event production companies. I saw the best of the best and the worst of the worst.
After years of working with AV companies, I sought to change the event AV industry and founded my own event production company, Endless Entertainment. We took all of those things we hated about AV companies and decided to flip them on their heads. Over the years, we’ve learned some tricks that can make the AV planning process for events much easier.
Here is your checklist for hiring your next AV company:
As you know, event planning is not a siloed effort, the same goes with your AV. When your AV company is putting together a proposal, a lot of the times there are so many moving parts and elements that it helps to connect them directly with your venue, entertainment, and decor.
- First with your venue. There are limitations for every venue whether it’s time, electricity, rigging, etc. Your AV company should ask the hard questions to make sure you’re getting what you need.
- Next with your entertainment. A lot of times the entertainment for your event will have a technical rider (which we talk about next), however sometimes the entertainment might be bringing equipment already which means you can save money by not double dipping. If you have a band, sometimes they might be bringing inferior equipment which will make your event not sound or look good. Your AV company will look for these red flags.
- Lastly, a great AV company should enhance the visual look and feel of your event, and that means collaborating with the decor company to help them do their jobs better. For example, if your decor company needs to hang something from the metal truss over the stage, the AV company needs to know this for engineering purposes.
Most, if not, all entertainment and speakers will have some sort of technical needs. Make sure you ask anyone who is going on stage if they have any needs from the AV. Give all of these needs and agreements to your AV company BEFORE you sign off on them. A lot of people will put their dream list of equipment they want for the event and sometimes that might not be in the budget. Your AV company will be able to tell you if costs are going to go through the roof, and instead propose alternative options.
Technology is changing so quickly that it can definitely be tough to know what every piece of equipment in the production industry is. However, it will pay you dividends to know the most simple AV & production terms. Remember knowledge is power when talking to your AV company. Need a jump-start at learning some of these AV terms? Check out the infographic.
Far too often do AV companies just throw a quote your way and expect you to understand it. Unless you have years of AV experience, it can be hard to know what every line means and how this translates to the overall vision of your event. Ask the AV company to walk you through the quote line by line. If the AV company can’t explain to you what it means in layman's terms, then they are more than likely trying to confuse you. Every AV item can easily be explained, we promise you that.
A lot of companies work on a ‘day-rate schedule,’ what that means is your technicians and staff are there for 10 hours to work for you (half-day rate is 5 hours). If you don’t use up all of those hours, you still have to pay the full day-rate, but if you go over sometimes there can be massive overtime fees. So make sure you clarify the policies before you sign the contract. We recommend giving your AV company your full event schedule, so they will be able to determine how long set-up will take based on what your requests are, how long the event is, and when they should have their breaks.
Ask as many questions as you need to until you are happy. You should trust you AV company and know that they are going to execute the vision you have for your event. If you have a long decision or many vendors to choose from, let the AV company know and keep them updated. While we recommend taking your time, sometimes making a decision fast is needed because equipment availability is limited (especially on popular dates), so if you are able to confirm a quote earlier and faster, sometimes you can get a better deal.
While some companies charge for CADs, and others don’t (like Endless), these can be worth their weight in gold. Far too often you are handed a quote where you did the complete walkthrough, but when you show up the day of the stage and everything looks completely different than what you expected. By generating a CAD, an AV company can show you the stage placement down to the inch.
How are you going to power all of those awesome speakers and lights you just got? Well, electricity, of course! There are outlets on the walls and that’s all the AV company should need right? That’s dangerous and possibly expensive thinking. As your event gets larger, the AV needs grow and so do the power needs. Don’t assume that the outlets on the walls will be enough.
If you have connected your AV company to the venue, they should ask how much power is available and the AV company will tell the venue their needs, however be aware that many venues have found that charging clients for electricity is a great way to make lots of money with little effort. Once the AV company has told you their power needs, ask the venue for a quote.
Last tip, is to have your AV company play hardball for you. There is a chance they have been in the venue before and know what is fair. We recommend asking the AV company to place the order for electricity for you and bill it under them. This keeps them from saying ‘oops we didn’t order enough’, your bill going up, and also forces them to order exactly what they need. Power is a much needed but you shouldn’t have to pay a lot for it.
Make sure you are put in contact with the technical director, event manager or project manager; someone other than the techs running the lights and the sound. This will be the person on your AV team who manages all of the technicians (speak tech to them, and layman’s terms to you). They can focus their attention on you rather than the lights or the sound, which means you’ll have a much smoother process. An event manager for your AV team is extremely important.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to planning AV for your next event. Overall, when it comes to planning your event, the biggest tip I can share with you is to share your vision with not just your AV company, but all of your partners and vendors. When everyone is on the same page (or the same bus as some like to say), you can accomplish amazing things because everyone knows what the bigger goal is.
Looking for more info about AV?
Don't miss Will's webinar with etouches on April 23rd where he shows you how to implement your 5 senses into your AV technology. Yes, you heard right - learn how to fulfill your 5 senses with AV! Get insider tips and tricks to save your time and money when it comes to event AV and production! Save your seat >>
Will Curran, President & Founder of Endless Entertainment
Endless Entertainment are the event production Einsteins. Taking care of the entertainment, production and even help you plan your event, so your job is as easy as possible. If you’re looking for more resources and tips like the ultimate av checklist, check out our following resources: Event Planning Checklist ; How To Avoid An AV Disaster webinar ; Top Tips For Hiring An Event AV Company webinar