Do I need to use a hotel’s AV services?
What is Hotel AV?
Imagine that your local bowling alley charges $50 for a pair of well-used rental shoes. These shoes are obviously much lower quality than professional bowling shoes, and significantly overpriced. The bowling alley never tells customers that they can bring their own shoes, but acts as if you’re required to rent shoes in addition to paying for your bowling lane.Hotels that encounter high demand for their venue services will frequently have an agreement with an AV company that provides “exclusive” AV services and staffing to the hotel in exchange for a hefty commission– usually around 50% of the revenue from AV services for each event.
Hotel AV companies frequently employ staff sourced from the traditional pool of workers in the hotel industry, NOT from the audio-video industry. This means that (more often than not) hotel AV subcontractors have a significant lack of experience and equipment knowledge, and combined with basic and outdated equipment (compared to most outside AV companies) can lead to mismanagement of your event (at best), and disastrous AV failures (at worst).
To compensate for the steep commission paid to the venue, hotel AV generally charges anywhere from 120-200% of the prices demanded by traditional audio-video companies. In summary, the archaic industry practice of hotel AV subcontracting is not only significantly more expensive to a client, but can result in an inferior production.
What are my options?
- Check your venue rental contract for any specific clauses regarding the use of an in-house hotel AV company. If you are contractually obligated, there still may be time to cancel the contract and re-negotiate for client-exclusive AV staffing rights.
- If you haven’t yet signed a contract with your venue, most hotels will allow for negotiation on their AV staffing policies. Many hotels don’t even have a hotel AV clause in their contracts, but will pitch their venue and services as if you have no other choice. Your venue rental combined with food/beverage/attendee room rentals is far more valuable to a hotel than the AV revenue lost by crossing out their AV service clause.
- Hotel venue spaces and Hotel AV contracts can also be complicated by union labor regulations. Repertoire has the ability to operate in union-controlled venues– something not all AV companies can do.
As a client, you almost always have options when it comes to audio-video production of your event, and it can save you thousands of dollars to do your homework, read your entire venue contract, and make an educated decision.