Overview of this LIVE Conversation

In this LIVE interview, Nick Bacon of Mainstream Media and Anca Platon Trifan of Tree-Fan Events LLC discuss the differences between working with a production agency versus an in-house AV team. Before diving into the topic, they share some of their favorite behind-the-scenes event stories. Anca tells a memorable story about a fashion designer event that went completely wrong. The conversation covers several aspects of the benefits and cons of working with a production agency versus an in-house AV team, including quality, expertise, budget, job security, work-life balance, and creativity. They also discuss the benefits and challenges of each option and offer advice to those considering a career in the event industry.


(transcript provided below as well)


AV folks do it all, but must they?

AV folks, or audio-visual professionals, are often the unsung heroes of the event industry. They are the ones responsible for ensuring that everything from lighting to sound to projection is working seamlessly during an event. But as Anca Platon Trifan of Tree-Fan Events LLC shares in this recent live-streamed conversation, their responsibilities often extend far beyond the technical aspects of an event.

In the live-streamed conversation, Trifan recounts a particularly memorable event where her team was tasked with moving a 25-foot-tall marble statue of a fashion designer to the top of a museum for his 50th birthday bash. The statue was supposed to be the centerpiece of the event, but during the move, the package containing the most important part of the statue was lost. The AV team was tasked with repairing the statue and ensuring that it could be displayed as intended.

This story highlights the fact that, in some instances, AV folks do it all. They are not just responsible for the technical aspects of an event, but they are often called upon to handle unexpected challenges and emergencies. They are trusted to problem-solve on the fly and make sure that the event runs smoothly, no matter what.

This is not an easy task. AV folks must have a deep understanding of the technical aspects of an event, from sound mixing to lighting design. They must be able to troubleshoot any issues that arise quickly and efficiently. But they must also have strong communication and interpersonal skills, as they often work closely with event planners, venue staff, and other vendors.

Despite the challenges, AV folks are an essential part of the event industry. They are the ones who ensure that the event looks and sounds great, and they are often the ones who save the day when something goes wrong. So next time you attend an event, take a moment to appreciate the hard work of the AV folks behind the scenes. They truly do it all.

In-house vs agency production.

In the event industry, there has been a longstanding debate about whether to hire an in-house technical event specialist or to outsource to an external agency. The decision ultimately depends on various factors such as the size of the event, the location, and the resources available.

An in-house technical event specialist is typically employed by an organization or venue to oversee and manage the technical aspects of an event. They are generalists who coordinate various technical details such as audiovisual setup, lighting, staging, and other event production elements. They have a good understanding of what it takes to put on an event, but they may not have the expertise to troubleshoot technical issues related to sound, video production, or other specific areas.

On the other hand, an external agency can provide specialized expertise in specific areas such as sound engineering, video production, or lighting design. They can work closely with event organizers and clients to understand their technical needs and ensure that the event’s technical requirements are met. However, outsourcing to an external agency can be more expensive and may require more coordination to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many event producers had to pivot to virtual and hybrid events, which required a new set of technical skills. Video production became a crucial element, and many in the industry had to learn and pour as much time into it as possible.

In conclusion, the decision to hire an in-house technical event specialist or to outsource to an external agency depends on various factors. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, and it ultimately comes down to the specific needs of the event and the resources available. Regardless of the decision, AV folks are an essential part of the event industry, and their hard work should be appreciated.

Consider experience when choosing AV.

One of the most critical factors to consider when choosing an AV specialist is their level of experience. In a recent live-streamed conversation, industry experts discussed the importance of working with someone who not only understands general AV concepts but can also apply them in practice. The ability to troubleshoot potential issues before they become problems is crucial, especially when running an event.

While it may make sense to have an internal specialist for consistent programs, it’s essential to remember that they may not have the technical expertise required for more complex events. In contrast, an external agency can provide a well-rounded knowledge base from working on numerous events across the country. They bring with them not only technical knowledge but also valuable tribal knowledge, such as established relationships with vendors and partners.

When deciding whether to use an in-house or external AV specialist, it’s crucial to consider the specific needs of the event and available resources. While in-house teams may be more convenient and familiar with the venue, they may not always be available or have the necessary experience to handle more complex events. Ultimately, it comes down to balancing the benefits and drawbacks of each option to ensure a successful event.

In conclusion, experience is a critical factor when choosing an AV specialist. Regardless of the decision to hire an internal or external expert, their ability to apply technical knowledge and troubleshoot potential issues is crucial to the success of the event. It’s essential to consider the specific needs of the event and available resources to make the best decision for the event’s success.

In-house AV vs event production.

The live-streamed conversation discusses the difference between in-house AV and event production and how it affects the quality of the event. In-house AV refers to the audio-visual team that is employed by the venue, while event production AV is an external team hired specifically for the event.

The live-streamed conversation highlights the fact that in-house AV technicians have a more general, well-rounded tech role expertise rather than specialized expertise in event production. In contrast, event production AV technicians are experts in the field, with extensive knowledge of sound screens, mics, and cables, among other things. This expertise is crucial when it comes to delivering high-quality sound and visuals that meet the client’s expectations.

The live-streamed conversation also highlights the challenges that in-house AV technicians face due to a lack of experience and resources. In-house AV technicians are often rookies who are learning from the ground up. They may not have the necessary skills to troubleshoot technical issues, which can result in delays and lower the quality of the event.

Moreover, in-house AV technicians often work under high-pressure situations, with tight deadlines and limited resources. They may be responsible for setting up multiple ballrooms simultaneously, which can be physically and mentally exhausting. This can lead to a lack of attention to detail and a lower standard of work.

On the other hand, event production AV technicians are experienced professionals who are used to working under pressure. They have the necessary skills and resources to deliver high-quality sound and visuals, even in challenging situations. They are committed to the success of the event and will do everything in their power to make it great.

In conclusion, experience is a critical factor when choosing an AV specialist. Regardless of the decision to hire an internal or external expert, their ability to apply technical knowledge and troubleshoot potential issues is crucial to the success of the event. It’s essential to consider the specific needs of the event and available resources to make the best decision for the event’s success.


Are You Considering a Hybrid Event?

We are here to help. At Tree-Fan Events, we possess extensive expertise in event planning, high-end production, audio-video visual, live-streaming technology, virtual event producing, scripting, and event directing. With over two decades of hands-on experience in production and technology, and a network of world-class partners, we are your ideal choice for creating and customizing an enriching virtual or hybrid event experience that aligns with your objectives. Let’s have a conversation to discuss how we can assist you in making the best decision for your event.


Stellar communication is key.

However, even with the most experienced and knowledgeable specialists, an event’s success ultimately relies on communication. Stellar communication is key to ensuring that all parties involved in the event, from the venue to the external vendors, are on the same page and working towards the same goal.

Clear communication starts with setting expectations and goals for the event. This includes understanding the vision for the event, budget, and specific requirements. It’s important to have a point of contact for each party involved in the event to ensure that everyone is aware of their responsibilities and can communicate effectively.

During the planning process, regular progress reports and updates should be provided to all parties involved. This helps to ensure that everyone is aware of any changes or updates to the event’s plan. Additionally, having project management assistance in place can help to keep everyone on track and ensure that communication is efficient and effective.

On the day of the event, having a designated point of contact is crucial to ensuring that any issues or concerns can be addressed quickly and efficiently. This person should be aware of all the details of the event and able to communicate effectively with all parties involved.

In conclusion, communication is the key to a successful event. Stellar communication ensures that everyone involved in the event is aware of their responsibilities and working towards the same goal. It’s important to set expectations and goals, provide regular updates, and have a designated point of contact on the day of the event. By prioritizing communication, events can be executed seamlessly and with great success.

Collaboration and communication are key.

Collaboration and communication are key when it comes to planning and executing successful events. This sentiment was echoed in a recent live-streamed conversation by event professionals who stressed the importance of having clear roles and responsibilities, regular communication, and a designated point of contact.

According to this live-streamed conversation, having a good relationship with partners is also crucial. Loyalty, respect, and having each other’s backs are essential for decision-making and ensuring that everyone is working towards the same goal. Expertise is important, but it’s not enough if someone is difficult to work with. It’s important to have a supportive team that is willing to collaborate and work towards a common goal.

One of the biggest challenges in event planning is ensuring that everyone is on the same page. It’s easy for different teams to feel like they are in competition with each other, but this is counterproductive. Instead, event professionals should focus on creating a collaborative experience that involves everyone from the in-house AV team to the client.

To facilitate collaboration, the live-streamed conversation suggests starting with a kickoff meeting where everyone introduces themselves and their role. This helps establish clear lines of communication and ensures that everyone knows who to go to for specific tasks. It’s also important to acknowledge that some people are better at certain tasks than others and to encourage team members to focus on their strengths.

In conclusion, communication is the key to a successful event. Stellar communication ensures that everyone involved in the event is aware of their responsibilities and working towards the same goal. It’s important to set expectations and goals, provide regular updates, and have a designated point of contact on the day of the event. By prioritizing communication, events can be executed seamlessly and with great success.

Consider external vendors for flexibility.

However, another important aspect of event planning is considering external vendors for flexibility. Many clients may hesitate to bring in an agency like ours because they fear that pricing from outside audiovisual (AV) outweighs the in-house options significantly. But, as discussed in the live-streamed conversation, this fear is not always justified.

External vendors often have more flexibility with budgeting, and they can figure something out that fits within the client’s budget. They may have more modern gear or a different kind of package, and they may have different levels of people that they can bring in. This flexibility can result in cost savings for the event.

Moreover, in-house AV teams usually include a service charge, which ranges anywhere from 20 to 30%. Instead of putting that within the budget, clients can allocate that budget for the outsourced partners that can offer more flexibility in cost negotiations. This may have a lower overhead, which is something to keep in mind.

Furthermore, the live-streamed conversation shared a personal experience where they hired the in-house AV to do the breakouts, and a separate third-party AV production partner to support the general session. At the end of the day, they spent so much money on the in-house constantly needing to bring in extra people from different venues and constantly needing to bring extra equipment that they didn’t realize they needed. They had to pay for the fee of transporting equipment in between venues, and they had to pay for all the extra labor to do the same thing that one of their production guys could do at a high level capacity.

Therefore, it’s important to consider external vendors for flexibility. They may offer cost savings, more modern gear, and different levels of people that they can bring in. It’s also important to prioritize communication, set expectations and goals, provide regular updates, and have a designated point of contact on the day of the event. By doing so, events can be executed seamlessly and with great success.

Expertise and communication are key.

In the world of event planning, two key factors stand out as critical to success: expertise and communication. These two elements are essential to ensuring that events run smoothly and that clients are satisfied with the outcome. In many cases, external vendors can provide the expertise needed to make an event truly exceptional. These vendors may offer cost savings, more modern gear, and different levels of people that they can bring in, all of which can contribute to a better overall experience.

However, simply hiring an external vendor is not enough. Communication is equally important, and it is essential to set expectations and goals upfront, provide regular updates throughout the planning process, and have a designated point of contact on the day of the event. By doing so, events can be executed seamlessly and with great success.

One of the key benefits of working with external vendors is flexibility. These vendors are often able to offer a wider range of services and equipment, and they may have access to more specialized expertise than an in-house team would. This can be particularly valuable in situations where a client has specific needs or requirements that cannot be met by an in-house team. Additionally, external vendors may be able to offer cost savings, which can be particularly important for smaller organizations or events.

However, working with external vendors also requires careful communication and planning. It’s important to set clear expectations and goals upfront, and to provide regular updates throughout the planning process. This can help to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that there are no surprises on the day of the event. Additionally, having a designated point of contact on the day of the event can be critical to ensuring that any issues or concerns are addressed quickly and efficiently.

Ultimately, expertise and communication are key to the success of any event. Whether working with an in-house team or external vendors, it’s essential to prioritize these factors and to ensure that everyone involved is working together towards a common goal. By doing so, events can be executed seamlessly and with great success, leaving clients and attendees alike satisfied and impressed with the outcome.

Passion fuels conversation and action.

However, there is another factor that can greatly contribute to the success of any endeavor: passion. Passion fuels conversation and action, and can be the driving force behind achieving great things.

Passion can be contagious. When we speak passionately about a topic, we can inspire others to feel the same way. This can lead to increased engagement, participation, and ultimately, success. In the context of events, passionate speakers and organizers can capture the attention of attendees and create a memorable experience.

Passion can also fuel action. When we care deeply about something, we are more likely to take action to make a difference. This can be seen in the countless individuals who have dedicated their lives to a cause they are passionate about, whether it be environmental conservation, social justice, or healthcare.

Passion can also lead to innovation. When we are passionate about something, we are more likely to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions to problems. This can be seen in the countless entrepreneurs and inventors who have turned their passions into successful businesses and products.

In conclusion, passion is a powerful force that can fuel conversation and action, inspire others, and lead to great success. Whether in the context of events or any other endeavor, it is important to cultivate and harness our passions in order to achieve our goals and make a difference in the world.


(transcript provided below as well)







00:00:00 Intro

00:01:04 Event mishaps make lasting memories.

00:07:09 In-house vs agency: depends on event.

00:12:32 Collaborating with experienced agencies.

00:17:59 In-house AV vs event production.

00:27:14 Stellar communication is key.

00:28:41 Collaboration and communication are key.

00:35:00 Consider outsourcing for cost savings.

00:44:02 Communication is key for success.

00:45:15 Passionate conversation about something important.


Swell AI Transcript: Agency vs. In-House: Which Production Partner is Right for You?

00:00 Anca Trifan All right. Welcome, LinkedIn friends and followers. My name is Nick. We’re just going to get the show kicked off in a couple of minutes here with me today is Anca Platon Trifan of Tree-Fan Events LLC, a technical producer based in Idaho, Boise. I was going to say, okay, let’s see who remembers. I feel like I’ve listened to your podcast enough at this point that I could probably do your whole intro. There you go. But no, so Anca and I are going to be talking about agency versus in-house today. We’re going to start that conversation in a couple of minutes. But as we’re all kind of like getting situated here, we just wanted to share some of our favorite behind the scenes event stories. So Anca, why don’t you kick us off? Tell me something.

01:21 Nick Bacon Tell me about an event that you’ve experienced that people should know. Okay, so first off, this is not going to be your probably event that you go to because I wanted to make it more like fun. And honestly, I feel like we do so many events that at the end of the day, most of them, they kind of like, you know, disappear into this fog memory of events that we’ve done over the years. But there’s one event that I’ve done many, many years ago that still stays like in my memory because it was just there was like something so much like crazy outrages. Like when everything goes wrong that could possibly go wrong, I feel like those are the events that we remember the most. So I’m going to profess with the fact that the person that we did this event for is no longer with us. Rest in peace. So I feel like I have the liberty to, you know, maybe make it a bigger deal than what it really was. So it was a fashion designer that we were working for at the time I was working with a production company back in Southern California. And we were doing all the runaway shows for this particular fashion designer. And for his 50th bash, he had this tremendous, you know, imaginary desire of what an event it should be. And he had multiple events planned throughout the evening in different places in L.A. And all of those were at destinations and places that, you know, for a fashion designer, you think like celebrities type of fashion designer designer, this was going to be top notch event. The event that every celebrity in L.A. was going to come to. So we were at Peterson Museum on top of the Peterson Museum and we were setting up this 100 by 100 or something huge, humongous tent. And then he had multiple tents leading to the main tent and each tent had a different theme. However, the piece of resistance was the statue of him of about 25 foot tall statue of him like naked. And it was white and it was beautiful made out of marble. It was heavy as heck. And we needed to take this whole thing up through, you know, the parking lot and up to the top of Peterson Museum. And I wasn’t involved in the process because at this point I’m just like, I have I don’t want to have anything to do with that because it sounds painful. But the guys that I was working with, especially the entire lighting crew, needed to make this happen. So as they were trying to figure out, I mean, we were not in the business of moving statues, marble statues for that reason. We’re in the business of creating the decor, lighting, bringing in the PA, the vents, mixing the sound and projection, all the things, but moving statues up to a museum floor. So we did, however, in the process, they managed somehow to ding it and shove it and we lost the package. The main package of what this statue is supposed to showcase. When you say package, when you say package, I am talking about the one thing that a man cares about. If you’re going to have a naked statue of yourself, what do you want people to be, you know, fixated on, right? So here we are, top of the museum. And we’re like, what happened? We cannot show. Something is missing. It’s very evident that something is missing and we have to make this happen. Work it out, tape it, glue it, like whatever it takes. But this cannot be, you know, put on display the way it looks right now. We can’t put a skirt around it either. So one of those things where you’re like, why did we sign up for this? Like whose idea was it that it is our responsibility as the AV production company to take care of this part of the event? Because this is totally insane, you know, so it still stays super vivid in my memory because it was just so funny. We managed to figure out, I mean, I wasn’t part of that whole crew of repair crew, but it was just hilarious. Like in the moment, you don’t know if you’re going to cry or you’re going to laugh. Like which one is the appropriate response?

05:55 Anca Trifan You know, oh my God, that is amazing. And, you know, like totally makes sense, right? Because AV folks are just entrusted to do everything, right? Like it doesn’t matter, you know, like people come to us because they don’t know how to run an event and they don’t know the myriad complexities that go into it. And they see you as like a strong, capable person and they’re like, okay, you figure it out, right? And sometimes that means like moving a statue or hot gluing a package back onto a sculpture. I’m telling you, sometimes there should be some boundaries. All right. Speaking of boundaries, I think that is about the limit that we can get into for our pre-show. So we’re going to kick off our show here in just a second. And then we’re going to get into this conversation around in-house versus agency. Welcome back to our show. We’re back. So today we are talking about in-house versus agency production. And this was a big topic of conversation last week on LinkedIn with all of us. What we’ve what I think we are struggling with in the in the events world is figuring out who is supposed to do what. Now, over the last few years, we have event producers have developed experience and expertise in virtual and hybrid events. So there are a few of us who really know what we’re doing when it comes to creating an in-person experience and at the same time creating a virtual experience that matches the energy of the audiences that makes sure that everyone feels like they’re like they’re welcome and trusted and a part of the experience. A challenge that people are seeing, though, is now that they’re back in person, now that we’re going to hotels, who is responsible for sending the audio to to your virtual stream? Who is responsible for like deciding which cameras are up? So we’re going to have a conversation around this with me today is Anca Platon Trifan of Tree-Fan Events LLC, who I have just learned has actually worked both sides of this. So we will probably watch her argue against herself for for a good portion of the day here. But I think my first question for you is when now the companies now that brands are coming back and they’re creating in person events, should they be hiring someone in house, a full time person to oversee those events? Or does it make sense to trust an external partner? What are your thoughts on that?

09:00 Nick Bacon I feel like you just opened the can of worms right from the gate, Nick. I mean, this is certainly the debate of the century in our world, because at the end of the day, you could technically go either way, right? Depends on very much on your event, depends very much on your resources, depends very much on maybe even location where you’re at and which part of the country, the world you’re doing this. So for the sake of sort of like reigning it in within, you know, some type of boundaries of what me and you are maybe used to seeing, I’m just going to refer to some of my experience because I can’t speak for all the events out there. I can’t speak for all the venues and all the locations. There’s way too many variables to, you know, give an overall, you know, all encompassing type of response that might not solve, you know, any anybody’s problem. So when I think of an in-house technical event specialist, in most cases, I think of a professional who is employed either by an organization or a venue to oversee and manage the technical aspects of an event, someone that is most likely a generalist as their main responsibility is to coordinate various technical details, you know, such as audiovisual setup, lighting, staging and other event production elements. Now, because they’re a generalist, that means they understand what it takes for the most part to put on an event. So it depends on the venue and depends where you’re at, right? You could be doing events that in most cases are maybe, I don’t know, up to a thousand people and you never touch on large events that go into thousands of attendee members with thousands of details and pages upon pages of run of shows and logistics, right? So it very much varies. When I first started my agency, I remember I like to call myself a technical event planner for the event planner. And I was in so many ways feeling the role of this technical event specialist as a third party technical event planner, whose main job was to work closely with event organizers and clients who understand their technical needs and ensure that the events’ technical requirements were met. Now, I, while I work closely with AV equipment, my main role in the AV world at the time was as a sound engineer. So I could troubleshoot any technical issues related to sound, but I did not have much experience at the time when it comes to like video production, you know, so I could speak to it. But if I were put on the spot to troubleshoot something the day of because something was like, you know, going up in flames, I didn’t have the expertise to do that. So a lot of the, you know, technical events specialist that you’re going to meet in those capacities are at that stage. They could talk the talk, but they don’t always walk the walk because they don’t have the experience. They don’t have the hours behind, you know, the mixing board, the video switcher or whatever it is to give you that expertise. So during COVID, I remember, you know, obviously we all had to pivot. We all have to change tracks and do the best with what we had. So for me, video production became like a very important element to learn and pour as much, you know, time into it as possible. And sometimes I even put myself like in very uncomfortable roles, you know, like where I’m learning the hard way, some hard lessons. And it’s painful, but it put me in a position where now I can go on site, you know, and I can feel a V1 role and not sweat. But at the time I was sweating buckets. I’m like, what am I doing? Like, I don’t understand what’s happening right now. So just building that experience, I feel like it’s so important. So whoever you’re working with, make sure that not only can they talk general AV concepts, but they can actually work those concepts into practice.

13:09 Anca Trifan Yeah. And, you know, we talk a lot internally about building the plane while we’re flying it, which often is what happens when you are running an event, right? So there’s always stuff to figure out. And you really need someone with the breadth of experience who knows what all of those things are, what all of those potential traps are, so that they can troubleshoot them before they appear as a problem. I think in my experience, it makes sense to have someone internal if you have a program that you run consistently, you know, quarterly, something like that, to handle the brand side of representation, to handle the audience interaction, that kind of stuff. But you shouldn’t necessarily expect that person to be a technical wizard. They shouldn’t necessarily, they don’t necessarily need to have that background in audio visual or video production. And certainly don’t ask them what to do that, because when you do, it’s taking them away from, you know, what they really should be focused on, which is the success of the event, whatever KPIs you use to determine what that success metric is. I think the other reason to consider an agency over, you know, or to work in collaboration with in-house is just the volume of, or not the volume necessarily, but the exposure that we get to a lot of different types of events gives us this kind of well-rounded knowledge, whereas, you know, when you hire someone internal, they’re going to do the same event over and over and over again. But folks like Anka, folks like, you know, myself or the team at mainstream, we’re doing dozens, you know, scores of events every year. We’re seeing a lot of different types of things, not just at the same venue, but like, you know, across the country. So we carry some of that knowledge with us to every new event, and then we’re able to apply that directly.

15:10 Nick Bacon And to add to that a little bit, I feel like it’s not just the knowledge, but also tribal knowledge is important, especially when you walk into a venue that, you know, potentially you have not worked in before, but also the partners that you build with some of the key players within that location, within that geographical place that you’re going to. So for me, that’s super important because not only am I relying on my experience and my knowledge and expertise on navigating some challenges that come, you know, with planning large scale events in places that I haven’t before, but I have the partners that I know that they have my back. Because let me tell you, there’s nothing worse than showing up somewhere and thinking that you have someone on your side, like a Navy vendor and AV partner that is there to support you only to realize that no, they couldn’t care less if your event goes well or doesn’t. And that will hurt your bottom line. You know, hurt you in long term, especially with that client that you established rapport, like it damages the relationship.

16:18 Anca Trifan So I’ve learned the hard way, you know, even if you notice whatever AV vendor might be top of the line, if you don’t have a pre-established relationship with them where you know that they’re there to support you, then they might not be the right place for them to get them involved. Yeah, I want to talk more about in-house AV because I think this is actually a good segue for this. So, you know, there is frequently a conversation between internal versus external, right? When you go to a venue, a venue has its list of preferred vendors. Sometimes they have their own in-house vendors who are literally on site. And in some instances, it makes sense to leverage that staff. But it doesn’t always, right? And I think that, you know, something that we were talking about in our kind of pre-show was how if you have an event at a venue, good friggin luck trying to get a hold of your point of contact, like if you’re a week out from your event, because they have seven shows, you know, for the seven days prior to you. And they’re just prioritizing what is right in front of them. Exactly. So, but you’ve actually, you know, you’ve worked in venues before. You’ve worked kind of on both sides of this. So, you know, and I don’t want to just like disparage our, you know, our friends who are working in the hotels. So, like, what are situations that you see where it makes sense to leverage that in-house AV?

17:49 Nick Bacon I think in most cases, and this is a very important question that you raised, I think in most cases, it’s important to note that most in-house AV teams have typically a more general, well-rounded tech role expertise rather than a specialized expertise in the, you know, event production world. And for myself, you know, I’ve worked with some amazing, good, intentioned AV techs, but the in-house AV was there breaking into the AV world place, right? So, they’re very much green rookies, like level, like knowledge, not zero, but kind of like very close to zero, right? So, they’re learning from the bottom up. It’s like I would have a team of guys that I would train for the in-house, you know, overall, you know, support. And those were coverage guys, right? So, I would have them. And I’m sorry I use the term guys because I’m very sensitive to that because in that, during that time of my life, it was only guys. Like literally, I was the only girl and I was teaching these guys. Now, I would have loved to have some gals around. So, during that time, like they were learning from the ground up, like how to set up PA, how to ring a room, how to set up even a, you know, a fast full screen. Like, oh, by the way, this is different than your cradle screen. I’m like, I mean, minimum level of understanding, right? So, when does it make sense? I’m not saying that all in-house AVs have that level of expertise because I work with some AV teams that really come from the event production side. But there is a level of difference between in-house AV, general AV versus event production AV, right? When in the real world, when we talk about event productions, we talk about way more than just sound screens, mics, and, you know, cables run this way or that way or which placement is the screen going to take, right? So, it’s important to keep in mind that there is that difference. But also when it comes to the load, like of how much you do, a lot of the venues, they do, you know, small events that every so often they would have a large event that they would put in their lead roles, some more of their expert, either if they have it on the payroll or maybe freelancers that they work with. But for the most part, you just go from event to event to event that you’re just going to set up screens and speakers and a mic. And maybe, you know, now that we have virtual, we’re going to have to stream this to Zoom or something, right? So, there is a lot of like back to back to back to back. I’m just going to have to get this nailed and cross it off my list because tomorrow I have another list of to-do lists and another list of to-do lists because it’s all fed by BO, right? So, whatever comes to us in the office, it has to be accomplished by the end of the day. There is no urgency to make this one event more special than the other event. Because at the end of the day, it’s about getting it done. Now, how much time do you think I have to spend and spare on this one event to make it just an extra notch more special? Not a lot because I’m thinking, oh, I’ve got another five different ballrooms that I need to set and I’m one person and I got to run, run, run, run. Right. So, it happens a lot where there’s not enough labor, right? Assign hands to take care of all the incoming that is happening at a venue level. So, then there’s this one person like sweating buckets, which is running from place to place to get it done. And maybe if there is something to troubleshoot in this one ballroom, they might be able to come and help you or hold off until I am actually free because I’m doing something else that’s more of a priority. Right. So, going back to what you say about communication. Yeah. Like, good luck getting on the line. This one person that’s running from ballroom to ballroom, setting up to their schedule what needs to be set up for the day of because they don’t have time. Like, literally they don’t have time and you have to have compassion for that, empathy, but also figure out a different solution for yourself if straight up communication is important to you.

22:05 Anca Trifan Well, and not only do they maybe not have enough time, but they actually may not be physically present. You know, I had a conversation with a producer recently who had taken a job working Hotel A.V. And he was the director of event technology at a local hotel. And within a couple of weeks, he was the director of event technology at five hotels, because that’s what was owned by that hotel group. And the vendors, you know, the A.V. staff are so understaffed that they’re literally splitting, you know, people across their entire hotel group. So he’s having to do, you know, the job of five people at five different spaces, you know, and consider all of that. And I think at the end of the day, when you have that level of stress, when you have that level, that workload, it can be really challenging to commit yourself fully to the experience of one show and one audience. And I think that that’s the thing that, you know, kind of drives me in the in the industry. And I was talking to another producer, AJ last night, who, you know, it’s the same thing. Like, when we take on a show, you commit yourself to the show. You know, you’re going to do everything you can to make that show great. And that’s, I think, the mindset of of an external agency, as opposed to an in-house vendor where, like, they’re going to, you know, they’re going to show up to the office. They’re going to work their 12 hour day, and then they’re going to go home, sleep and wash, rinse, repeat until they get burnt out. Yeah.

23:50 Nick Bacon You know, there is this very actually interesting conversation that I had with another small business owner of an agency in Vegas. And we were actually talking about this exact point where we as an agency and we’re not a large agency, like for me, it’s important if I do an event right, or if I mess up on an event and I lose it right. It’s very important. It’s not like I have this never ending pipeline of events coming and hitting me from all sides where, you know, I can afford to, you know, just not be careful with the execution of any given event. Right. So we were talking about how, you know, when you’re in the position of running an agency, every event is important because that’s what makes your brand and sets you apart from the competition. But also it’s what builds your business. I can’t afford to be a, you know, global organization like someone that I’m not going to mention the name of and be like, well, if we, you know, asked on this event, who cares? Like move on. They don’t have another choice. You know, they either have to come back to us and we’ll figure out how we’re going to amend or they’re going to bring in somebody else and then we’re going to have to give them some cuts and figure it out. Right. But for us, that’s not the end of our life. Like it’s not going to impact us financially. So exactly.

25:20 Anca Trifan It’s not money out of their pocket. Right. Like if you, if you or me mess up something real big, then, you know, we’re going to have to beat the cost of that.

25:31 Nick Bacon Well, it’s their implication, the brand implication, the future client implication. It’s like a lot of things that are in, you know, in the balance. So it matters to me that I give my all to this one event today and another event tomorrow or whatever it is that’s coming, you know, on my, it’s on my schedule. Everything is important.

25:49 Anca Trifan It’s not just, oh, this is more important than the other one because actually has a bigger, you know, I don’t know, budget or whatever. Yep, absolutely. Well, I’m gonna, I’m gonna hop ahead here because I think that we are this, this conversation is great and I want to keep it going. I think we could talk about it all day. But at some point I have to get lunch because I’m on a weekday.

26:11 Nick Bacon So what do you eat? I thought you had pancakes in the morning.

26:15 Anca Trifan I did. Yeah, that is true. I did eat delicious pancakes, but it’s time for my afternoon.

26:20 Nick Bacon Your Friday pancakes with Nick Bacon. If you have not checked that out, you should because I’m every so often I’m thinking, man, I should make me myself some pancakes on Fridays.

26:29 Anca Trifan Yep. Stay, stay tuned because pretty soon I’m going to drop the recipe and then, and then the world’s going to change.

26:35 Nick Bacon There you go.

26:37 Anca Trifan Well, the last question that I really want to talk about today is, is collaboration is around collaboration because at the end of the day, like the client has to decide what’s best for their show. And often that means that there’s, you know, we’re going to use the venue in some capacity, you’re going to use your external folks in some capacity, you’re going to have in-house specialists who are who are working on things. So like what tips do you have for folks who need to collaborate with all of these disparate groups?

27:08 Nick Bacon How do you get those groups to come together to create an exceptional event? It goes back to communication. I feel like when it comes to event planning, stellar communication has to be part of that recipe. There is no event without being able to get everyone on the same page and being able to communicate your needs. Also, what is it that you’re looking for? What’s the vision for the event? What’s your expectation? The budget, like all the things that make an event work and also some of the responsibilities, like also whose point of contact the day of the event? Like, let’s not forget that because many times you work with one person when it comes to the pre-event planning and then you’re like, okay, so who’s going to be there the day of because that one person, are you sure they’re being dialed in with everything that we’ve talked so far? It’s important to have that understanding and transparency in the communication process so that you know, okay, this is what are the specific requirements and this is who’s going to meet them and this is who’s going to be responsible for that. Who’s going to handle communication when it comes to the updates during the event production timeline? Who’s going to provide regular progress reports or maybe project management assistance having been set in place to give you updates? All of those things go to stellar communication so that collaboration can happen. And for agency like us, you know, having a relationship with the partners that we work with and bring in, that is also very, very important because like I said earlier, not having a good relationship in the sense of knowing that they have your back and for me, loyalty, respect, having my back are super important as far as, you know, when it comes to decision making, who’s going to be joining on my event. And of course, expertise. It’s important to have expertise, but you can have the best expertise, but if you’re an asshole, let me tell you, that’s not going to go too far, you know. So it matters. Or it gets out pretty quick, like who you should and shouldn’t work with. Exactly. So for me, it’s important to have those and most important, again, aside from clear roles, responsibilities, that regular communication for the coordination of the event so then we can collaborate and plan this event and know also who are the decision makers and who’s there to make, you know, the hard calls when those calls need to be made and leveraging expertise that’s available. All of those things are important ingredients to create that experience, the event that you’re looking to have. I think that you’ve touched on something really powerful there, which is about like who the decision makers are. And a lot of times, if you’re not really thoughtful about this, a lot of times it can feel like you are in competition when you’re working on a show, right? Like you have your AV folks over here and like they better not drop the ball because I got my stream over here and like they’re responsible for, you know, for all this stuff. And that’s just no way to run an event, right? That’s what I mean when I say, do you have my back? Because if I’m here streaming this event and you need to feed me the audio, which is, you know, has to be clear, the video, the graphics, the camera angles, as we’re communicating to make this pancake, to make sure that all the layers are put on right, if I don’t have someone that’s there to support me, then we’re, like you said, we’re not only competing, but it becomes the struggle, power struggle of like who is better than the other.

31:04 Anca Trifan And like, no, we’re here to work for the benefit of this one client. And there is no none of that. Because if there’s any sense of that, that turns me off so bad. Yeah, something that I’ve started doing in the last year is I actually will, at the start of our load in day, I will gather everybody from all of the teams. I’ll gather the in-house AV. I will gather everyone that’s on my team. I will gather the client, every single person, and get them to stand in a circle and get them to say who they’re, like what their name is and what their job is on site. And just having, just doing that, just that initial kickoff of like, okay, if I need audio, then this is the person that I’m going to go to. If I need video, like it’s got to go over here. Just establishing that at the very beginning really sets the tone for a collaborative experience with the entire organization. So I’ve started doing that. And I know that like some, I get a lot of eye rolls because I literally do the name game. I’m like, you have to, you say your name, you say the name of the person before you, you say what their job is doing. And we’ll do that with like 40 people, you know, and it takes a minute. But it works. Everybody remembers, you know, remembers everyone’s job.

32:28 Nick Bacon Yeah, and especially on large scale events, this is so important, as you just mentioned, because like, for example, I’ve worked on large events where we had over 300, 400, you know, crew members and many of those were hired locally from, you know, from the DATI or labor union. So you had no one, no knowing of their capacity, of their skill set level. I mean, there’s just a group of people that is there to support an event, and some are better than others, right? Creating opportunities where they know who the lead is, where they know where to ask questions, and they know what the hierarchy is, so that not everything comes to this one person when it can be solved, you know, at the level of where they’re maybe ballroom level, like you have your leads for your ballroom, and then you have a lead for the floor that we’re working on, then maybe escalate to me, you know, if we need to go that far. Yeah, that communication collaboration, also understanding that some people are better than others in certain roles. So like, between yourselves, like, feel free to, without obviously bragging and pushing and shoving, like, feel free to say, hey, I’m really good at setting cameras. That’s what I’m going to focus on. Because I don’t know, like, from where I’m at, should I put you to set up audio? And you’re like, fuck, I’ve never actually set up audio in my life. Like, what am I? But I’m not going to embarrass myself, so I’m going to figure it out. But how much longer will that take you when I can just put someone that’s actually in A1, you know, in that position?

33:59 Anca Trifan Yep, yep. I think we can go on to this forever. So, yeah. I know, I know. That’s good. We’re getting some good questions in from the LinkedIn family. So one question is, my clients often hesitate to bring in an agency like ours because they fear pricing from outside AV outweighs the in-house options significantly. Do you also experience clients facing this fear? And I’ll say from the start that, like, you know, budget is always a conversation, right? You have to operate within, you know, within what’s reasonable for you and what’s reasonable for them. And not every budget is going to fit, you know, your ability to do a job. That’s okay. If we got a special guest, Anka, that’s totally fine. I know. I’m like, It’s all good. Are you thinking about my face? That’s all right. This is a family show. Yes. Maybe not earlier, but now it is. But listen, you know, so you have to be mindful of budget. Yeah. And I think that it’s okay to say, like, listen, you know, we’re not going to be able to make this work. Now that said, just because you’re bringing in someone externally doesn’t mean it’s more expensive. A lot of times with external vendors, they have more flexibility with budgeting so that they can figure something out, right? Like, maybe their gear is more modern or is a different kind of package. You know, maybe they have different levels of people that they can bring in. So I think that there are spaces like that where you can, where it ends up being pretty close.

35:40 Nick Bacon But yeah, I don’t know. What’s your experience with budget? How do you handle that conversation? Well, I definitely understand the fear per se, right? But at the end of the day, also, let’s not forget that many in-house AP teams usually do include a service charge, which ranges anywhere from 20 to 30%. Like, do you, you know, do you put that within your budget? So instead of maybe putting that to the service charge fee that is going to be added to your bill, regardless if you like it or not, how about you allocate that budget for the outsourced partners that can offer more flexibility in cost negotiations? So I think that might have a lower overhead that is something to keep in mind, which, you know, in most cases will result in cost savings for the event. And then another thing that I’ve actually experienced myself, I was working on an event, a large conference on the East Coast. And we had a range of ballrooms that needed support. So we decided to hire the in-house AV to do the breakouts, which was all those ballrooms. And then the general session was an AV production company, a separate third party AV production partner that was going to support that. Let me tell you, at the end of the day, by the time we were done with the cost and the analysis of what went where and how much money we spent, we spent so much money on the in-house constantly needing to bring in extra people from different venues, constantly needing to bring extra equipment that they didn’t realize they need. I’m like, he was on the, you know, on the production schedule. What are you talking about? Now I need to pay for the fee of you transporting equipment in between venues. And then also one person doing the job, you know, at a high level capacity is not the same as five people on the payroll doing the same job. Because then we just had to pay for all this extra labor to do the same thing that one of my production guys was like, get it done, get it done, get it done. Right. And I’m like, I’m just paying all this extra money for the in-house where I could have actually, this could have been savings if I would have had a more expert crew, a more organized, you know, project manager, which was, you know, from the venue side. And it just was a headache. And I’m like, lesson learned. Let’s look at this differently next year. It’s kind of like, you know, thinking about a general contractor, if you’re, if you’re building a house, right? Like, can you hire the crew that’s going to put in your windows and do your roofing and, you know, and do the plumbing? Can you individually yourself as a homeowner hire the folks to do that? Absolutely. Absolutely. Do you have the experience to do it? You know, if you don’t, then like, maybe you need someone who can actually handle that stuff, who’s made those decisions before and can project manage the situation appropriately. Absolutely. I love Jared. He says something. Oh yeah. Thank you for bringing that up. It’s like how he loves to, you know, from the get-go say, we are here to work together and we are friends, not enemies. And I’m such a proponent of that as well. I want the in-house to be on my side, right? So I don’t want them to be putting, you know, shoving like all kinds of obstacles in my way, just because I’m being, you know, a bit of a bitch. I want them to be on my side. However, I’m also going to keep some strict boundaries as to what’s acceptable, as to what’s not, how long things should take to be done. If we’re waiting for a bottom to be set and it takes you 10 hours when it should have been done in four hours, that’s not acceptable in my book. And I’m going to tell you, and it might not be something that you’re going to like in the moment, but I promise you, I’m also going to be your best friend by the end of the three day show, because I’m going to bring you coffees and cookies and all the things just to, you know, make sure that we’re good. Yes, I not someone that is just going to let those things fly, but I want to be proactive looking at what we’re, you know, what we got ahead of us and make this happen for the benefit of the client without, you know, having to like punch each other in the face. Which I mean is going to happen at some point on some show someone is going to someone is going to punch you in the face. It hasn’t happened yet, but maybe I was close at one point.

40:08 Anca Trifan Yeah. All right, I want to hear that story the next time we do this. Stories of getting punched in the face.

40:14 Nick Bacon That is not for my book that’s kind of hopefully come out at the end of the year.

40:18 Anca Trifan So we’ll see what happens. Nice. We got a book drop coming up. That’s exciting. Let’s do it. Yes. Oh my gosh. Trust me. Time for it is like, ah! Yeah, I know you don’t have enough on your plate already. John over at Nimble Digital thinks that the general contractor analogy is a good one, which I appreciate because I just pulled that out of my butt. I’m glad it resonated with you. But yeah, so I mean let’s let’s kind of wrap this up here. Final thoughts about in-house versus agency. Anka, if there’s one piece of advice that you want to give to folks who’s watching, what should they be looking out for? What do you want people to take away from this?

41:02 Nick Bacon I think the main takeaway is, you know, obviously you have to consider the experience and the expertise of the teams that you’re working with. And in-house teams may, you know, have had certain challenges to get hours and expertise during the pandemic, which is not that far behind because let me tell you, working three hours, three years in virtual slash hybrid slash, let’s go back to virtual, it will give you a type of expertise, knowledge, skill set that being laid off, it just won’t. Like, that’s the reality. Now, there’s definitely some potential gaps that they might have had during that time. Not all teams are the same. Some of them, maybe they did work freelancing jobs on the side. So now when they came back to in-house, they’re able to bring with them what they’ve learned. However, in my experience, outsource AV production partners that still stayed around and worked, you know, during pandemic, the pandemic, during the craziness that that was, most likely have accumulated the experience, the extensive experience and expertise in hosting not just virtual, but also hybrid events, and it made them well equipped to handle the complexities that a lot of those events now have. A lot of the clients that I work with now, they have only put on virtual events during pandemic, and now they’re completely unprepared to what hybrid looks. So that’s where we get to showcase the experience that we build over the pandemic, because not only did we do events pre-pandemic, but also we weren’t just being still and figure out like I’m going to go and sell cars during the pandemic or something.

42:57 Anca Trifan Some of us did, and there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with that.

43:00 Nick Bacon What I’m saying is selling cars, yeah, sure, it might have helped my sales skillset, but not your technical, per se, skillset, right? So it’s important to take those things into consideration just to throw it out there. And there’s so many other things, you know, obviously wanting to evaluate the technology capabilities, what are the cost considerations, specialization, expertise, relationship with that particular vendor. All of those are important in the decision making when it comes to making your informed decision and asking questions, like making sure that you see those virtual events execution that now we have lots of YouTube streams to show for, right? Look at those, like do some research for yourself. Don’t just jump into it because somebody said that this might be the right fit for you.

43:48 Anca Trifan Absolutely. Yeah, I think really hammering on the expertise of your external folks, that is that’s definitely a key takeaway. And I think the thing that I’m really hearing about this, you know, from this conversation is communication. It is possible to have a great event when you communicate upfront, when people know who’s responsible, when you physically identify the key stakeholders and the decision makers and people know where to go to if they need help. But if you’re skipping that step, then you’re going to have a bad time. So, you know, take the extra hour in advance to just like set yourself up for success. Yeah. I think that’s my big takeaway. I mean, having a bad time versus having to pay out of your pocket thousands of dollars for the bad time. Well, I would call that a bad time. You know, that’s a bad, yeah, that’s pretty bad time. Yeah, we want to avoid that. Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. Well, Anka, thank you so much for joining me today for this conversation.

44:49 Nick Bacon Really appreciate it. And I hope we get to do this again sometime soon. Yeah, this was fun. Thank you so much for inviting me. And I hope that we, you know, at least I know it was fast and furious and I might have dropped a few bombs.

45:01 Anca Trifan Sorry, I only have two. We’re still in the PG 13. I was trying to be containing myself here, but don’t get me started talking passionate about something that I care because I mean, things will just fly. You want to have people to talk. You’re going to get a couple of bombs. You got to have to. You’re going to have to deal with. You don’t want to know what’s happening behind the scenes. So this was actually the really team version. That’s right. That’s right. Cool. Well, thanks everyone for tuning in. We’ll do this again sometime very soon. So until next time, I’m Nick and I’m with mainstream. Thank you.


Summary, Transcript and Timecode stamps provided by Swell AI.

Thank you for your interest in our recent conversation. If you found this topic engaging and thought-provoking, you can have the opportunity to explore it in-depth by inviting our guest speaker, Anca, to present at your internal company meeting or upcoming event. Anca will bring her personal experiences and insights to your team, offering practical strategies for building a culture of trust, honesty, and open communication while advocating for diversity and equity. To connect with us and schedule a talk, please send us a direct message, and we’ll be happy to arrange it.

Check out Anca’s other topics she’s passionate about: https://treefanevents.com/event-speaker/



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