For all the event planners out there trying to plan an incredible event and make a budget work, we hear you. It’s tricky. Event planning within a budget is no small task, so it’s no surprise that a question we’re often asked is “how can I save money on event AV?”

Now a year on, we’re taking a fresh look at it, and we’ve compiled all the ways we think we can help you save money on event AV.

We’ll guide you through these ideas which focus on some often surprising ways of saving, including:

Planning well for an accurate quote

Negotiating aspects of AV quotes

Removing or saving on in-house restrictions

Building a great relationship with your AV company

Using simple but effective ways to reduce AV requirements

Getting creative to save money

Watching for hidden costs

So, let’s dive into this juicy topic!

Get clear on your requirements

Planning event AV is not the time to make assumptions, particularly in the quoting stage. The more detail you can provide your AV company with, the fewer assumptions they are going to need to make to quote your event. When they understand exactly what you want to achieve, your AV quote is going to be as accurate as possible. And when the quote’s spot on, it means you aren’t going to have excess equipment or labor as additional costs to bear.

But, it also means you won’t be missing vital equipment. Imagine for a moment that it’s the day of your event and a presenter notices that the monitor they were expecting to see, isn’t there. That’s something that could be a higher cost to produce at the last minute, rather than if it was in the original quote and planned for from the beginning.

Before you run full steam ahead, you should also think about how to be more resourceful. Don’t just have multiple meeting rooms set up if they aren’t really needed. If you need similar setups for different speakers, try to make the most of your set-up by putting those speakers in the same room at different times. You might not need as much AV equipment as you first thought.

Finally, you should book early to ensure your AV company has plenty of time to prepare a successful event, thus avoiding any rush fees. This also means you have access to exactly the right equipment, reducing the need for them to hire additional equipment just for your event. First in, first served!

Learn to negotiate event AV

You should negotiate payment terms ahead of time. When some clients may be paying their accounts on 60 and even 90-day terms, the offer to pay your AV company up front looks very attractive. So attractive in fact, that they might be willing to offer you a discount for doing so.

Get a quote walkthrough

This is one of the most important things we advocate and never more so than if you’re wondering how to save money on event AV. Getting a quote walkthrough not only helps you fully understand the service being provided, but you can call out things that don’t make sense. When you know what equipment should be onsite, it also means you can make sure it definitely is there! Because if an item isn’t there, you should be getting a refund.

So, the next time you receive an AV quote, please make sure you jump on a call with them and ask them to take you through it, line by line.

Navigate in-house AV and save

Now, this is a subject that plagues all event planners, which is why it’s so important to us to address it here for you. You should know that you always have a choice when it comes to in-house AV restrictions.

When you’re negotiating with in-house vendors, let them know that you want to bring in out-of-house AV. Ask them whether it’s possible and be prepared that they may have fees involved if you do use third-party vendors. And please, make sure you get a quote for those fees. But, sometimes, even with those fees, it can be cheaper to bring in out-of-house vendors. Not every time, but it’s something to keep in mind.

You could also consider a compromise and use the in-house team to cover your breakout rooms. This is ideal if you want things to run smoothly while building great relationships all around. Why? Because if something does go wrong and you need their help, you’ve got them on side. Your third-party AV company should do the same – be willing to go in and build good relationships with in-house AV. When everyone’s working together, it’s the perfect situation to be in for handling any last-minute requirements. And you’ll potentially save money on them by having them executed easily, on the spot.

Despite your best efforts to negotiate on in-house AV restrictions, it may come down to choosing to walk away, particularly if you’ve already signed a multi-year contract with a third-party vendor. But you’ll at least have explored all your options and made the best choice for your event and your budget.

Potential discounts for ongoing work

Your AV company of choice may like to work with you on a multiyear or multi-event agreement. And when they know they are guaranteed to provide the AV requirements for you for a set length of time, they may be willing to discount their services. After all, when there is work definitely in the pipeline, it gives you an effective negotiating tactic.

The right services every time

When you work with the same AV company over time, they’ll know your needs inside out. That means they can sometimes preempt your event requirements so that things are less likely to be missed. When your AV company knows a lot about the events you plan, they’ll be better able to ensure the equipment you receive is exactly what you need. That means it will neither be too weak nor too powerful and ultimately, not too expensive.

Leverage their expertise

When communication is easy with a business, it’s much easier to ask for help. For instance, you might ask for your AV company’s qualified opinion on whether there’s anything you can scale back, without compromising on the effect you want to achieve. Trust me when I say that AV teams are full of exciting ideas!

For example, if you plan on including projection mapping at an event, they might be able to produce an exciting effect, with simpler technology and develop something just for you with creative uses of projection.

It’s always important to take an attitude of optimizing and compromising. That way, you, the event planner, can meet your budget while the AV company meets the necessary profit margins to run their business.

Remember to treat them like partners

When you treat vendors like partners, you’ll find they look after you in return. Something as simple as providing food and beverages onsite can generate a lot of goodwill. You never know – it could even mean they don’t charge you for that extra hour of overtime because they were so thrilled with the working environment!

Leverage client brands into savings

We’ve already talked about how you can leverage ongoing work and a great relationship as methods for how to save money on event AV. But, if you’re working for a big-name client, you’ve got another trick up your sleeve. Sometimes an AV company may be willing to discount your quote if they are really eager to work for that client too. So remember to leverage those clients that make excellent portfolio additions!

Consider packages

When one company can handle your AV, computing, IT and even staging needs, there’s a good chance you’ll save. It’s usually more cost-effective than using two or three different vendors. Why? You may find there are labor reductions when you don’t have separate teams covering your event. Don’t be afraid to ask what you AV company is willing to include in their services to you. You might be surprised.

Above all, when it comes to building a relationship with your AV company, think about the bigger picture. When you’re working with a team who knows your event planning styles inside and out, you’re not only going to save money in terms of the actual AV budget, but they’ll no doubt be helping you create better events, driving up your event ROI!

Fast ideas to instantly scale an AV quote down if it’s over budget

So far, we’ve given you negotiating tools and a general understanding of how you can work with your AV company to cut costs. Now, we’re going to look at some specific aspects of your event and where you may be able to trim the quote if you’re having trouble meeting your budget. Let’s look at how to save money on event AV in some practical and simple ways.

Make sure you aren’t over-crewed

Having a lighting operator on hand for a full-day might be excessive if you don’t have any lighting changes throughout the day. Turn to your schedule and make sure the labor component makes sense with your requirements.

Hidden costs

While keeping an eye out for hidden costs won’t save you money overall, it means you won’t be hit by things like surprise overtime at the end of your event. So, if you can take them into account in the planning stage, you’ve got a better chance of remaining under budget!

Labor

The labor component of AV is usually charged out at a flat day rate (or half day rate). Anything over the eight or ten-hour day goes into overtime. And more than two hours of overtime means you’re looking at double time! You should also be aware of late finishes and early starts. If there isn’t an eight-hour break between the two, overtime applies again.

With these figures in mind, I urge you to look at your schedule and compare it to the labor you have been quoted for. If overtime hasn’t been quoted, but it seems likely it will occur, you should go back to your AV company and ask for a quote revision. That’s the best way to avoid being charged with surprise overtime costs at the end of your event.

Rigging points

When you’re dealing with in-house AV, you might find rigging points to be contentious. Why? Well, an in-house AV team will have installed permanent rigging points at a venue. But, sometimes they will charge you per-day rates for use of those rigging points. It could be several hundred dollars per day. We suggest you check the fine print before signing your contract to see if there is a fee involved for using those points. If there is – now is the time to negotiate. Although please keep in mind, that the fees aren’t always unfounded because they can include necessary liability costs, like insurance.

I mentioned earlier that ground-support could save you money on rigging. So, you can use this option to push back and even take all the rigging from the in-house AV team off the table if you so choose. After all, if you want to know how to save money on event AV, then opting for ground-support is often much less expensive.

How to save money on event AV: final thoughts

So, if you’ve been wondering how to save money on event AV, you can see there’s no shortage of ways. And it doesn’t just come down to sacrificing the style of audio-visual effects you envisioned for your event. A lot of it is knowledge, planning and building great relationships.

Do you have any questions about how to save money on event AV? Please let us know in the comments. We’d love to answer them for you!