What to Know Before Signing a Hotel AV Contract

1. You Always Have a Choice of Audio Visual Providers

You have a choice between using the hotel’s AV provider or bringing in your own. Don’t be pressured or misled by catering contracts and overly aggressive AV salespeople. You are the customer and you have power. Hotels’ main focus are in room rentals and catering sales. AV is an added revenue stream for them. Hotel contracts may attempt to deter you from bringing in your own AV but you have options.

Before you sign a hotel AV contract, negotiate out any terms that require you to use their AV services or pay fees for not doing so. Leverage your event business value to the hotel against binding AV terms and win your freedom to choose. This keeps your options open and pushes the hotel AV provider to be more competitive. After all, it’s your event and you should be able to choose who you work with.Bring better event AV to life with easy diagrammingGet Started Free

2. Know Where Costs Come From For A/V Equipment

To understand costs, you need to know how and why they are there, to begin with.

The audio visual company pays commissions to the hotel to be in-house and have access to hotel guests. In some cases, they pay large signing bonuses to get a contract with a hotel or a portfolio of hotels. The AV company purchases the gear and pays the salaries of any AV staff at the hotel and temporary AV contractors. The hotel isn’t responsible for any of these expenses. The hotel provides an office and storage space for gear to the AV provider. Equipment rental rates are set to recoup signing bonuses, cover AV provider operating expenses (including commissions paid to the hotel or venue), and profit above all. Same applies to convention centers with in-house AV.

Whether you pay one bill to the hotel or you pay the hotel and the in-house AV company on separate invoices, the breakdown between them is the same. The problem is the customer is the one who pays in the end. It seems easy and convenient to just use the hotel’s AV service. But at what unnecessary cost to your event budget? Outside AV providers can do just as good if not better of a job with your event as the in-house and potentially cost less. Do the math and figure out what works best for your event and budget.

3. Added Fees and Service Charges for Audio/Visual for Events

Let’s not forget the service charges. Service charges of 20% and higher get added to your AV bill at some venues. What is that really for anyway? When I was an AV Director in hotels for a large AV company it was explained to me that service charges are to cover F&B labor. But, if that’s the case, why is there AV labor and a service charge on the same bill? My advice: look for this and question it.

Regardless of how it’s justified, outside AV providers typically don’t charge service charges. I used to omit service charges if the set up required extensive labor and operators. I would only apply them if it was a simple set up and tear down during normal business hours and there was no other labor being charged. This seemed like a win-win for both the AV team and the client.