Three Ways to Rescue Your A/V Budget

Rule #1 Goes Beyond A/V, Too.

If you’re like 45% of meeting planners, you’re working with a flat budget from last year—or a smaller one—but are being asked to produce the same quality of event. One area you might be loath to touch is your audiovisual budget. With good reason: Poor sound or visual quality can make even the most brilliant programming feel dull.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t dig deep to find savings. Read on for three ways to make the most of your A/V budget.

Plan ahead.

Starting early is hardly a groundbreaking tip for professional meeting planners. But particularly for tech-shy meeting planners, it’s easy to keep your A/V needs vague until the last minute or to trust that if there’s sound and screens, it’s all good.

That leaves money on the table. When you account for your needs well in advance, you’re better able to communicate with your tech team, which can then rightsize your equipment and staffing needs. Start by knowing your priorities so you’ll understand when you truly need top-of-the-line equipment and when any old speaker will do, helping you avoid the trap of panicking and splurging on high-end equipment where it’s not necessary. Plus, you’ll avoid stressing out your tech team with last-minute requests, which may make them more willing to work with you on figuring out how to get the best value for your budget.

Schedule your sessions wisely.

Beginning and ending the day with a plenary session makes a certain sort of sense—get attendees jazzed up for the day’s events, then bring them together to seal in all they’ve absorbed. Trouble is, that can be pricey.

“One of the biggest money-wasters is the general session sandwich,” says Brandt Krueger, a veteran production manager in the meetings and events industry. “You know, you get the 12 people for the crew to come in and do the general session first thing in the morning, and then they sit around all day because you’re doing breakouts, and then they have to come back at four o’clock for a one-hour closing general session. So now you’ve got a full 12-person crew on all day.”

Opening up the day’s end for other types of events not only releases your A/V crew early, it can also provide more breathing room for attendees. Small-group networking, off-sites, or even an early release can be a budget-saving, attendee-friendly option.

Know exactly what you’re getting.

The price tag is one thing; the value you’re getting is another. If you’re working with an independent A/V provider, they may offer services that you might be searching for elsewhere—or already paying your venue for—such as stage management and visual design. If you’re working with your venue’s A/V team, your payment may include things like Wi-Fi. But without examining your contract and asking questions, you could wind up double-paying or missing an opportunity to bundle services.