Meetings Canada


Getting Maximum Bang for Your AV Buck

The comment everyone in the audiovisual business has heard over and over and hates to hear is, “I didn’t want to buy the gear! I just want to rent it!”

No question, it is costly to plan, install/dismantle, service, warehouse and ship AV systems. Audiovisual equipment has a short shelf life. Not only does technology render the equipment obsolete quickly, but rentable gear gets damaged and things wear out fast. In addition, labour costs are becoming increasingly high for top-notch technicians. And as audiovisual equipment becomes more and more advanced, it requires qualified techs who really know their stuff. Now that more and more events are being produced in high definition, with different screen ratios, where screen blends, LED panels and other new trends are emerging, planners need to keep abreast of what the newest toys can do.

LED panels are flat blocks made up of LED illuminating diodes. They can be put together like floor tiles to make huge screens or they can be broken up to make interesting visual patterns and displays. They can show video images or almost any programmable representation. LED panels work well outside, because they’re so bright and can be seen almost perfectly in sunlight, whereas most LCD projector images break down outside.

Screen blends are achieved by utilizing multiple projectors on wide screens that are capable of combining images and making almost undetectable where one image ends and the other begins. This creates a much more impressive and interesting display.

Also gaining in popularity are mobile apps for smart phones that list conference agendas, provide city and venue maps, list delegates and provide speaker profiles. Ultimately, over time, these apps will replace paper programs.

Be aware, however, that these new technologies demand specialists to program, design and implement them. Even generalists who are usually in charge of the overall picture need to have a solid working knowledge of everything.

So how do you get the best ‘bang for your buck’ when it comes to these new technologies?

Know what you are trying to achieve and know your limitations. Budgets are a relative term. One organization’s ‘small budget’ is another group’s ‘Rolls Royce.’ How much bang do you want for your buck? What is important to you and your team? Do you simply want to project a PowerPoint image, so all the delegates can see it, or do you want to add a camera, so the speaker can be better seen on the large screen by your audience?

Is ‘bling’ (slang for ‘effects’) important? Do you want fancy sets, with lighting, looks and moods or LED panels to embellish the look of the event? All the extras add cost, of course. Your audiovisual account rep should ask these types of questions and guide you through the process, but it’s much like buying a car. If, from the beginning, you have a good idea of what you are looking for, it will be much easier to get what you want. Always get multiple price quotes and always make sure you are comparing ‘apples to apples.’ Never play one company against another in the bidding process to get the best price; it will just stretch the AV supplier that wins the bid to the brink of disaster, since they may not have enough labour or equipment to run the event properly.

Work with a team you trust and are comfortable with, one that provides solutions to your dilemmas and, of course, strives to meets your budgetary requirements.

Make your supplier a vital part of your team—which they are, rather than hired help—and good things will come back to you, in spades. By following these steps, you will be well on your way to getting the biggest bang for your AV buck!

Clayton Caporal is senior sales manager at AV-Canada, based in Mississauga, Ont.

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