With the merger of large national AV companies recently, the landscape is changing for AV services within hotels. While all hotel properties are not subject to this yet, it is very wise for planners and event producers to carefully read your hotel contract before signing. Look closely at the fine print pertaining to providing your own AV services and bringing in an outside company. Once you sign it you can bet the hotel will hold your feet to the fire.
Some hotels have signed contracts with in house AV companies allowing almost exclusive access to AV services. They may tell you that you can bring in your on vendor but the contract between the hotel and in house company allows the in house AV Company to charge you, the client, a liaison fee of “overseeing” your outside AV provider. We have already heard of fees of $650 and higher. That fee is sometimes valid to protect their property. But the big deal is they are also allowed to price match every piece of equipment brought in by the outside AV Company and charge you the same dollar fee thus doubling your bill. They do nothing but get paid. (Sound familiar).
In my opinion this is extremely damaging to the AV market because it hinders several advantages for you the client and outside AV companies. First I personally believe it stifles competition and will ultimately lead to a type of monopoly. And we all are painfully aware of what happens to prices when there is no competition. Secondly I feel it restricts fair trade and that is not good for anyone. Most in house AV companies pay lucrative commissions to hotels through contracts. That commission is passed to the consumer in the form of higher than normal prices. With little to no competition that will only climb higher. Certain “strong arm” tactics will be used to convince you to use the in house provider leaving you will very little control over the quality you so deserve. You will no longer have the choice of picking who will run the technical side of your meetings and more than likely you will no longer have a dedicated AV staff for your event.
So, now it comes down to reading the fine print and objecting to the use of any AV company forced upon you and any associated fees levied by providing your vendor of choice. The leverage you as a planner have is the threat to move your event to a venue that will not impose additional fees for the right to control who handles your meeting. It boils down to who gives in first.
If you do not notice a clause detailing the policy or fees, ask the question before it’s too late and you get stuck with someone other than who you are accustomed to working with. It keeps the free enterprise system free. Do business with facilities that do not contract with exclusive vendors.