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RFP and Contract Language to Keep Your AV Options Open

Man working audiovisual equipment for a hybrid meeting.

If not careful, meeting planners can lose their freedom to choose their AV provider as soon as they sign a venue contract. And with technology playing an even bigger role in events during and after the pandemic, this loss can cost dearly.  

Man working with audiovisual equipment for a hybrid meeting.
Credit: HB Live

Your freedom of choice for AV is more important now than ever before. The amount of technology that is needed to deliver a memorable hybrid event has dramatically increased in scope and complexity. Meeting planners need a true, long-term partner who can bring their mission and message to life in a cost-effective, efficient way. 

Keep Your AV Options Open 

Why keep your options open? Independent AV companies are only beholden to their clients, and not to the venues they work in. Additionally, their commitment to having skilled engineers, graphic designers and content specialists so they can match the heightened demand from audiences who have binged their way through quarantine is worth evaluating. 

Meeting planners should be allowed to fully manage and oversee the booming technology component of their events. Unfortunately, most sign away that right when they put their signature on a venue contract months before the event. 

As we enter an era of hybrid events, which are really two events—in-person and virtual—going on at the same time, the stakes and the risks have been raised. 

[Related: Should You Use In-House AV or Third-Party AV for Your Next Event?]

How to Protect Your Ability to Select an AV Provider 

There are two sure-fire ways to protect your freedom to choose an AV partner. 

1. When you issue your RFP, make sure to include a specific requirement to protect your rights down the road, such as the following: 

Due to the unique nature of our meeting program format, [your company] has a partnership with an AV provider that is familiar with our needs. We will plan to utilize their services for much of our audiovisual meeting requirements. They in-turn may rent equipment and/or labor from the in-house provider to augment their needs while onsite. When replying to this RFP, please address our requirement to exclude any fees or charges or requirements to [your company] or our AV partner. It is incumbent upon the facility to address this request in any proposals prior to submission to [your company]. [Your company] expects the facility to openly bring up and address these items for a detailed discussion and acceptance prior to including any of them within our final agreement. 

At this point, you have already started the negotiation process from a stronger position. By spelling out your intention to maintain your freedom of choice in the early stages, you have dramatically reduced any chance of a stalemate in the 11th hour over your demands because only properties interested in accommodating your request would respond to the RFP. 

[Related: 6 Ways to Save on Hybrid Meeting Production Costs]  

2. Spell out all possible hidden fees when negotiating your event contract with the venue. 

When you negotiate with the venue, it is important to specifically reference possible areas where you would be charged fees when you work with an independent AV company. Here is some possible language to help you navigate: 

[Your company] reserves the option to use our own AV provider for all of our audiovisual needs with no additional charges, fees or penalty of any type to [your company] or our AV partner. Examples of these include but are not limited to:  

  • Requirements for supervisory labor to move-in/out of the facility  
  • Fees to prepare rooms for use  
  • Charges for podiums, basic power, staging, heating, air conditioning or lights within the meeting room  
  • Flat daily outside vendor fees 
  • Require the use of floor or wall coverings when not practiced by the house AV company 
  • New labor/union contracts (if there were none at the submission of the proposal or when signing the contract)  

Wi-Fi rates and dedicated production internet connection that are higher than if you used the in-house AV company. (A planner’s choice of AV provider should not impact the cost of internet services.) 

Both sets of sample language place meeting planners in control of their events, which have many more moving parts amid higher expectations in the last 18 months and in the future. 

Whether you opt for an independent AV company or not, retaining all your rights to evaluate and choose the best partner for the event gives you the ability to succeed.

Read Next: How the Onsite AV Landscape Has Changed as In-Person Meetings Resume

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About the author
Donald Guzauckas Jr.

Donald Guzauckas Jr. is vice president of Rental & Staging Network, which is a North America-based group of independent AV providers. He is also vice president at HB Live, Inc., based in North Haven, Connecticut.