What questions should I ask a potential AV partner?

Or: How do I evaluate AV providers? Or: How do I choose an AV partner?

Time to get some answers.

I was talking to Sarah Ichangedherrealname and she wanted to do something special – create a cool scenic set that people hadn’t seen before, and one of her presenters was going to video conference in from the other side of the country. She loved our proposal and we knocked the event out of the park. Sarah and her attendees were raving about us afterwards and she filled out a very positive survey.

This was when I was working for an in-house AV company at just one property. I found out she was going to hold the same meeting again at another venue in a different state. My company at the time also had offices in that property, but I didn’t know those guys. I sent over a copy of the order and some pictures, but when I talked to my colleague there it didn’t instill me with confidence. I explained some of the technical details a few times because it didn’t seem to be clicking. Sarah wasn’t a “tech person” so I was imagining how things would go when she was working with that team and I was no longer involved. She’s working with a new partner now, so it’s safe to say it didn’t go well.

How do you make sure you’re getting the value you need? Here’s some questions you can ask potential AV partners:

  • Who can you give me as a reference? – A partner should have a track record.
    Historians may recognize this as a rolodex.

    Find out who they’ve worked with, what type of events and what they did. Talk to some of their clients.

  • Where do you work? – If you plan more than one event and they take place in different locations, find a partner who can work with you everywhere you’re going. It will save you time and lower stress. One note: Some major in-house companies have a national presence, but each venue is it’s own individual unit. Find out if you’ll have the same point of contact for all events.
  • If I have this same event in another location will the price be the same? – Many planners get a surprise when they budget based off the last event only to find out the price is significantly higher with the same needs and company next time.
  • Are you able to provide a certificate of insurance? – This is a softball type question, most venues require one for a vendor to come in at all. But it may help you rule out providers early on whose prices are too good to be true.
  • What questions have you asked me? – Don’t actually ask this. But think about your interactions with a potential partner. They should have an interest in what you’re doing – technical questions show they’re thinking about the actual mechanics of how the event is working. Questions about your goals and what a successful event looks like are even better because it means they’re trying to apply their expertise to the issues important to you.

Have a question? I’d be glad to help.


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