Handling the Audio-Visual (AV) aspects of events often presents significant challenges for event planners and managers, particularly when needing to deal with in-house AV services at venues. From a recent conversation with a group of AV experts and event professionals, we uncovered the complexities of negotiating, cost considerations, and practical experiences that every planner and manager should be aware of.

The Perils of In-House AV

Horror stories ranging from untrained and inconsistent crews to AV techs falling asleep during sessions underscore the critical limitations of in-house AV services for large-scale events. These include overworked and untrained AV tech crews, aggressive sales tactics on the sales managers’ sides, and exorbitant costs enforced by the revenue-sharing model between hotels and AV vendors. The sophistication required for events utilizing in-house AV at hotels varies greatly, demanding sharp negotiation skills and a robust understanding of contracts to manage costs effectively.

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Leveraging AV Production Agencies for Enhanced Negotiation Power

Partnering with an AV production agency like Tree-Fan Events LLC can significantly amplify your negotiating power when dealing with in-house AV services. As seasoned professionals in the industry, agencies such as ours bring a wealth of experience and a deep understanding of AV requirements and pitfalls that often go unnoticed by in-house teams. This expertise allows us to advocate effectively on your behalf, ensuring that every aspect of the AV setup is tailored to meet the specific demands of your event without compromising on quality or inflating costs.

Our role extends beyond simple negotiations; we act as your strategic partner, helping to dissect complex AV proposals and translate technical jargon into actionable insights. We also play a crucial role in red-lining contracts to eliminate or amend any unfavorable terms that could potentially lead to hidden fees or inadequate service provisions. By leveraging our industry knowledge and relationships, Tree-Fan Events can secure advantageous terms that might not be accessible when negotiating directly with in-house AV providers or hotels.

This approach not only streamlines the planning and setup process but also ensures that all technical aspects of your event are managed professionally and efficiently, leading to a smoother, more successful event experience.

Leveraging Hotel Relationships and Negotiating Contracts

Your hotel sales rep can be another invaluable ally in negotiating AV costs because the real client for in-house AV companies is often the hotel, not the event planner. This insight provides a strategic advantage to negotiate not just costs but also the specifics of the service provided. It’s crucial to amend unfavorable clauses in contracts—known as red-lining—to avoid hidden fees and restrictive terms that in-house AV providers might impose.

The Union Workaround: A Cost-Saving Strategy

In cities like Chicago and New York, leveraging union payrolls can provide significant cost savings and help bypass some venue restrictions related to union labor and AV liaisons. Understanding the role of union brokers and liaisons is critical, as they manage labor costs and help navigate complex contractual details.

Rigging and Venue Evaluations: Critical Negotiation Points

While leveraging the in-house team’s knowledge of the venue can be beneficial, especially for rigging as it relates to safety and liability, being aware of these fees is a must.

Early involvement of production teams is essential to assess venue specifics like loading docks, ceiling heights, and potential visual obstructions—factors that can drastically affect the AV setup and the event’s success.

Strategic AV Management: Cost-Effective Planning and Execution

Building on the strategies discussed in our previous blog post, “Squeeze Every Penny: Smart Moves Before Your AV Quote,” it’s essential to delve deeper into the nuanced world of event planning with a focus on AV considerations. In that post, we explored core considerations such as event duration and location, venue type, and hidden costs that directly impact your budget. By choosing a strategic duration and location, you can manage costs without sacrificing the quality of your event experience. Similarly, understanding the financial implications of opting for a non-union versus a union venue can significantly affect overall expenses due to varying labor costs and AV requirements.

Additional hidden costs, such as overtime charges, loading fees, and technical requirements like power and rigging, are often overlooked yet can drastically affect your bottom line. For example, while larger screens might seem budget-friendly, they often require more power and setup time compared to multiple smaller screens. Alternatively, LED screens, though more costly, provide sustainability and visual impact that can enhance attendee experience.

Planning considerations are also critical. Scheduling your event during the week can help avoid the premium costs associated with weekend bookings. Moreover, understanding the length of AV setup days relative to event days is crucial to prevent unplanned overtime charges. A technical rehearsal is essential for ensuring that your event runs smoothly; however, the scale and timing of this rehearsal can heavily influence your budget.

Pro Tip: Optimize Rehearsal Costs with Strategic Planning

As highlighted in “Squeeze Every Penny,” conducting your technical rehearsal at a studio or your company’s headquarters, if feasible, can be a strategic move. This approach not only saves on tech rehearsal costs but also provides an opportunity for a dry run in a controlled environment. This can significantly reduce the need for a large number of technicians on-site, thereby cutting down on labor costs and streamlining the event execution process.

By integrating these strategic considerations into your event planning, facilitated by the expertise of an AV production agency like Tree-Fan Events, you can negotiate more effectively with in-house AV providers and ensure that every aspect of your AV setup is optimized for both cost-efficiency and high-quality output. Our role extends to dissecting complex AV proposals, amending contracts to your advantage, and ensuring all technical aspects of your event are managed professionally—ensuring a smoother, more successful event experience.

Establishing a Planner’s Bill of Rights

To address these challenges, Liz Lathan, CMP via the Club Ichi conversation and Slack has proposed the establishment of a Planner’s Bill of Rights for working with in-house AV services which we’re very much agreeing with.

Here are some rights that were discussed in a recent LinkedIn post by several event professionals as to to be considered:

  • Right to Transparent Pricing: Demand clear, upfront disclosure of all AV-related costs, including equipment and labor.
  • Right to Equipment and Service Quality Assurance: Ensure access to detailed information about the AV equipment’s quality and specifications.
  • Right to Pre-Event Crew Introductions: Meet the AV team in advance, ensuring consistency from rehearsal to the actual event.
  • Right to Contract Negotiation: Negotiate and amend contract terms to better suit the event’s needs without penalty.
  • Right to Use Third-Party AV Providers: Choose third-party AV services if in-house services do not meet event requirements, without facing restrictive fees.
  • Right to Detailed Floor Plans: Obtain floor plans that clearly label where all ethernet jacks, HDMI jacks, and power outlets are located.
  • Right to Accurate Floor Plan Capacities: Ensure floor plan capacities account for space losses due to AV setups, recognizing that room capacity decreases when equipment is installed.
  • Right to a Dedicated IT Contact: Have direct contact information for a dedicated IT professional, not just a banquet manager, to handle internet-related issues promptly.

These insights not only highlight common frustrations but also encourage a community of professionals to push for greater transparency and fairness in the industry. If you have more to add, please message us or contribute to the on-going Linkedin conversation as we welcome your experiences and insights, which are invaluable as we refine this Bill of Rights. Let’s collaborate to elevate industry standards, ensuring every event is a landmark success.


Integrating the #FIT4Events Framework: Enhancing Audience Experience and Team Well-being

In our quest to elevate every aspect of event production, Tree-Fan Events proudly champions the #FIT4Events framework. This holistic approach not only focuses on optimizing the audience experience through top-notch audio-visual services but also prioritizes the well-being of the teams working behind the scenes. This framework underscores our commitment to creating events that are not only successful in terms of engagement and technology but are also supportive of the physical and mental health of the event staff.

Prioritizing Team Well-being

At Tree-Fan Events, we recognize that the success of an event is largely dependent on the health and happiness of the team delivering it. Long hours, high stress, and physically demanding setups can take a toll on crew members, potentially affecting their performance and, by extension, the event’s success. The #FIT4Events framework ensures that working conditions are humane, with adequate breaks, reasonable work hours, and proper support structures in place. This commitment to team care helps prevent burnout and promotes a positive work environment, leading to more efficient and enthusiastic event execution.

Enhancing Audience Experience

Simultaneously, the #FIT4Events framework enhances the audience experience by integrating cutting-edge AV technologies and ensuring that every technical aspect of the event is flawlessly executed. From the initial planning stages through to the live event, our focus remains on creating immersive and engaging environments that captivate attendees and leave lasting impressions.


By advocating for both the audience and the behind-the-scenes teams, the #FIT4Events framework embodies a comprehensive approach to event production. It is this dual focus that sets Tree-Fan Events apart in the industry, driving us to not only meet but exceed the expectations of our clients and their audiences. As we continue to promote this framework, we invite other industry professionals to join us in this movement towards more sustainable and empathetic event production practices.

These insights, combined with our ongoing commitment to the #FIT4Events framework, not only highlight common frustrations but also pave the way for a community of professionals to push for greater transparency and fairness in the industry. If you have more to add or wish to engage further, please connect with us or join the ongoing conversation on LinkedIn. Your experiences and insights are invaluable as we refine this Bill of Rights and continue to shape the future of AV event production. Let’s collaborate to elevate industry standards, ensuring every event is not only a landmark success but also a beacon of innovation and care in the industry.

Event Planners, Save Time and Elevate Your Efficiency!

Navigating the complex world of event production often starts with getting the right AV estimates. However, the all-too-common endless back-and-forth emails with AV vendors due to incomplete initial information can consume unnecessary time. What if you could get your AV estimates right on the first try?

Before you send your next request for an AV quote, ensure that you’re set up for success. There’s a set of critical questions that can guide you to provide all the necessary details in your initial email, streamlining the communication process and drastically cutting down on follow-up emails. Are you ready to transform your approach and enhance the efficiency of your event planning process?

Get exclusive access to the essential screening questions by following this link to download the form that will change the way you communicate with your AV partners forever!