Many meeting planners and event organizers believe they must use the audio visual (A/V) vendor that is listed in the contract as the preferred A/V vendor. This is often a fine print stipulation already worded in the contract long before the hotel representatives and the meeting organizers come to the table to negotiate. Because there is often a similar assumption about catering vendors, organizers tend to believe the same is true with audio visual. Food vendors are held accountable by local foodservice regulations and the hotel has a responsibility to make sure they have verified a catering company’s insurance coverage and certification credentials. The same is not true for A/V vendors (although we are fully insured and certified). Here are some reasons it may be in the best interest of meeting planners to go with an outside vendor.
Lack of Competition Can Lower the Quality of Service
In a typical bidding situation, audio visual companies would have to present their best work and their most affordable fees for consideration. In order to win the bid to provide service for a conference or meeting, they would have to show that they are more than qualified to give the potential conference client what it needs and meet the conference’s budget constraints.
In a situation where the preferred A/V company is the only provider of services, there is no incentive to continue to provide top-notch service. Even if something goes awry with a current conference, they feel secure that the next one will come along the next day and make the current foul-up irrelevant to their success.
When meeting planners bring in their own A/V vendors, there is a pool of eager service providers pitching their best work. The complacency of a preferred vendor is gone. This is especially true with Kettner Creative. It is our goal to build long term relationships with all of our clients, big and small. It is in our best interest to offer you the best value possible, and make sure that your event is seamless. It is in our best interest to learn what you like and don’t like, so each event is better than the previous event – Even if the venue changes.
You Will Receive More Value
Preferred vendors and hotel and conference facilities have entered into binding agreements that meeting planners know little about when they negotiate contracts. Often, these agreements give the meeting facility at least a 40-60% percent commission on any bookings the vendor receives through the meeting facility. Naturally, the trend is to inflate prices so that the vendor receives his baseline price, and the meeting facility can get a sizeable return as a commission. This can kill the budget of the event and ultimately, it is the client who pays the biggest price. The money to cover the agreement that he knows nothing about comes out of their pocket or the pocket of their company.
Meeting planners have learned to be more savvy when it comes to these kind of relationships and costs. They are accountable to their clients or companies, and they are not given a large sum of money in a budget without being accountable for every line item on the expense sheet. Because meeting planners represent the best interests of their company, they should always challenge preferred vendors in contracts. According to industry research, bringing in your own A/V vendor can save a meeting or conference up to 64 percent of what they would spend with a preferred A/V vendor (This comes from a less expensive rate, and finding more efficient ways of accomplishing the same goals). The meeting facilities preferences are not legally binding unless the meeting planner signs the contract. Without that signature, the option to bring in an outside AV vendor is very alive.
How to Turn the Tables in Your Favour
One way to keep control of your meeting and select your own A/V vendor is to suggest the reworded copy for the contract. This includes removing verbiage that requires you to use a hotel’s vendor as well as checking the wording that charges you extra fees for bring in an outside vendor. The fine line that most meeting facilities walk gives them a profit no matter which vendor you use.
The key to conducting a successful contract negotiation is to make sure you have all the right decision-makers and meeting facility representatives at the table who can both answer your questions and make decisions about what you agree to in the contract. The best representatives can explain each clause and every surcharge or fee. If you encounter a lot of hesitation, or densely packed conversation that does not seem decipherable or logical, you should continue to ask questions until they have made the answers clear.
We’ve discovered that some hotels in the Vancouver area will charge a small fee for an outside A/V company. This is a fairly reasonable request because it will often cover things like the use of the loading bay, elevators, storage, etc. Generally, you will still save money even with the extra fee, and you will end up with a company that cares more about your event.
Contact Kettner Creative
At Kettner Creative, we thrive on building long term relationships with clients to offer a consistent, high value production for all of your events, regardless of the venue that you book. We love showing clients how we can make a difference at their event to exceed their expectations and to make their job easy and worry-free.
If you’re planning an event and if you want to make sure that you’re getting the best value, contact us and we’ll be happy to make sure you get exactly what you want… and more…