What should my AV budget be?

Or: “Is this a good price?”

When I’m going to make a decent size purchase I like to research beforehand. I don’t like being sold; I’d rather know what I want in advance and what the cost “ought” to be. If you’re the same, I feel your pain when I tell you that unfortunately, event audio visual is difficult to price out, and usually requires talking to a few people.

I don’t even know how to use this

There’s so many variables that there’s not a simple way to calculate how much to spend. For example, for association event AV I’ve heard numbers as low as 5% of budget, or as high as 18%.

Really if you’re working on a meeting that’s never happened before or you’re choosing a new partner, the best way to get a sense of cost is to receive proposals from two to three companies. That way you’ll have a range of what’s appropriate for your event. It’s also in your interest to talk with candidates instead of just sending a list of equipment. They might have suggestions or consider things you haven’t even thought of.

Are you already working with an AV partner on a recurring event and just wondering if the amount you budgeted still makes sense? If it’s been a long time since you’ve compared proposals it might make sense to check your options. But there are a lot of factors to consider that affect price.

For example, are any of these true? If so maybe your budget should increase.

Realistic portrayal of US currency
  • My conference has more attendees.
  • There are more sessions or the event is longer overall.
  • We added features like an awards dinner, video conference, recording or lighting.
  • Our last AV partner did a bad job. (Maybe a better partner has been priced out by your budget)

On the other hand, it’s possible something has changed that would lower your budget:

  • My meeting has fewer attendees.
  • There are fewer sessions or the event is shorter.
  • We had “too much AV” at the last summit. Maybe it was too flashy or more than you needed.
  • I have a fixed budget outside my control. – Good partners can often make suggestions to work with your budget. You may not get everything you want, but at least the core elements you need.

Have a question? I’d be glad to help.

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