What Planners Can Learn From AV Consultants

Audiovisual (AV) technology can make or break a meeting. You can have great speakers in a fantastic location and be sipping a delightful cocktail, but if your AV is sub-par, that is all anyone will remember. More than that, your attendees won’t be able to do what they came to your event to do—learn. To help make sure your AV is on point, Smart Meetings talked to Brandt Krueger, technical producer, educator, speaker and consultant for the meetings and event industry, along with Clarity Experiences experts Gary Lagestee, vice president of customer development, and Andi Hogan, regional general manager on how to elevate your AV experiences. Here is what we asked and what we learned.

What do you wish planners knew about AV?

Krueger said planners need to know just enough—”just the basics,” so that they can feel comfortable asking questions about their bids and invoices. “It’s OK to not know everything,” he reassured.

Hogan wished more planners understood how integral AV is to a successful event. Hogan said, “More planners should ask themselves, when picking a venue, designing the room seating or choosing an AV partner, how well can my attendees see, hear and engage with the conference content and let that question drive more of their partner, budget and location decisions.”

Is there anything planners could do to make your job easier?

Both consultants had a similar request: better and earlier communication. Krueger suggested planners, “share the information you do have, rather than waiting until you have everything. Even if there’s a possibility schedules might change, or the order of speakers might shift, we’d prefer to have as much information as possible, as early as possible.”

Similarly, Hogan mentioned involving AV consultants in hotel contracts as they have more experience and skill around how a contract might affect AV costs and capabilities. He also asked that planners communicate the goals and expectations of an event early on so consultants and technicians are equipped with all the information necessary to build a show that will live up to your, and your stakeholders, expectations.

What are some common mistakes planners make in regards to AV?

Venue selection is where Krueger said planners often go wrong. How to choose a venue like a pro? Consult a pro! Krueger suggested asking a trusted partner take a look at a venue and contract before signing off on it. “Remember, before you sign the contract, it is negotiation. Afterward, its begging.”

Hogan talked about budget as the thing planners often get wrong. Not the size of a budget, we know that’s not up to you, but what they can do with it. He said planners often assume new technology is too expensive and stick to the same-old while this is often not the case.

How should contracts be structured?

Lagestee waxed poetic about long-term contracts between AV companies and planners so that planners and consultants can count on consistency and quality from each other. Lagestee also talked about the importance of having an AV partner when negotiating contracts with hotels and venues.

Krueger said contracts should be simple and easy to read, with detail being provided in attachments or as needed. He says that “trying to plan for every possible thing that might go wrong is a never-ending quest, so don’t try.”

What tech advances in recent years have been the biggest game changers?

LED technology has, according to Lagestee, had the biggest impact on AV for events. LEDs have allowed flexibility and creativity in things like video LED panels at an affordable power price.

Krueger also cited advances in LED lighting, along with advances in mobile apps, projector efficiency and laptop technology. However, Krueger feels, “like we’re on the cusp of something,” especially in display technology, which he said “is on the edge of a revolution.”

If planners are on a budget, what should they never skimp on?

Audio quality is number one for Krueger while Lagestee says that video should be the first investment. Beyond that, they both agree that lighting is important in creating mood, good visibility and high-quality videos and photos necessary for marketing the next event.

Final bit of advice?

“Small changes can have a very large impact” and “budget is not always an issue to elevate an event” was the advice that Lagestee left us with.

Krueger said that hiring a technical producer is key for those who don’t have a techy person on staff, or those who simply don’t want to deal with the technical issues that arise.

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