Every meeting planner knows that even the most dynamic, impactful and talked-about meetings in a planner’s career can hardly be considered successes if they went massively over budget. Since A/V plays such a large role, planners should seek to work closely with their A/V supplier to make sure a rational technology budget is in place.

NJM+E: When it comes to event planning, what are some of the best practices for optimizing your technology budget?
AT: No. 1, involve the A/V technology suppliers as early as possible. Proactively bring the A/V vendor(s) into the initial discussions, because their involvement while developing the meeting’s business goals and objectives will allow the planners to match the event’s objectives with the technology requirements. No. 2 is budget for value, not costs. The value equation in the event A/V profession is service + price = value. Simply seeking the lowest pricing can end up in disaster if the service is defi- cient (i.e. audio isn’t clear, equipment issues not fixed rapidly, etc.).

NJM+E: How can a planner make sure the A/V vendor doesn’t overcharge?
AT: By leaving out the assumptions and “facts unknown” in a meeting plan. The more facts and details acquired by the planner (and shared with the A/V vendors) the easier it will be for them to fine-tune the estimate by avoiding caveats (when possible) and developing the best possible set of costs.

NJM+E: Can meeting and event pros still effectively negotiate on budget with A/V vendors when they’re so closely involved in the planning process?
AT: Yes, absolutely, however it’s important to pick the right TIME to negotiate, which is AFTER you’ve developed a compre- hensive list of the needed equipment and personnel. Once completed, planners can then request quotes from multiple A/V vendors, then compare them against each other ... and negotiate discounts on equip- ment. The better quality A/V vendors are going to be competitive, and they want to win your business.

Andrew Taffin is co-founder and CEO of Iselin-based Tallen Technology Rentals. A regular speaker at industry conferences, he is also a founding member and former president of the International Technology Rental Association (ITRA). 

With executive orders and restrictions across the country in a state of constant flux, not everyone is ready to jump back into meeting in person. While some planners are eager to get back to “normal,” the long-term adjustment to new meeting protocols and potential risks make some hesitant to gather.

While wearing masks and social distancing can help keep attendees safe, intentional design choices—such as including nature-inspired elements and materials and plenty of plants—can also help to calm attendees.

 

The times they are a-changing, and that has never been truer than when it comes to selecting an A/V partner and deciding whether the in- house A/V vendor or an outside third-party provider is the right partner for you. Due to advancements in technology, lighting and other A/V equipment that has come down in price, planners are now finding op- portunities to use previously out of budget technology with a much more palatable price tag. 

 

Retreats and off-site meetings present wonderful opportunities for groups to collaborate, strategize and build relationships away from their normal office environments. With proper planning, these sessions can be highly effective and even pivotal in setting a new direction. However, off-sites may present some unforeseen challenges that can quickly deflate the energy in the room if not anticipated and addressed in advance.