When it comes to the audiovisual for their meetings, most planners tell me it’s the worst part of their job. On a recent posting to the MiForum Google group, there was a long and extended conversation about how difficult it was for a planner in trying to navigate the bidding process for her AV needs.
So, here are a few guidelines to help you with your AV planning.
Strategy and pre-planning
First, to achieve your business meeting’s goals, I always advocate that you budget to a plan rather than planning to a budget. So, getting a ballpark idea of costs is an excellent way to begin, before you ever craft a formal RFP. You will need to know:
- Number of attendees
- Number of breakout sessions
- Length of event and possible dates
- Venue details (if known, room size and dimensions)
- The types of presentations that will be made (i.e., grandiose keynotes with fabulous graphics or simple DVD playbacks)
- How many speakers do you anticipate, will there be any panel presentations?
- Will there be any featured sponsors you’d like to highlight? (This can be a revenue opportunity with the right planning!)
- Any potential special requests — types of microphones desired, graphics/content creation, custom lectern/scenic/stage set design, accessibility, Audience Response Systems, etc.
If you begin querying AV partners at this point in the process, you will eliminate potential headaches of establishing a budget and then realizing you can’t afford the event you really wanted!
Writing the RFP
I suggest that you start with the APEX RFP for Audiovisual Services form. It is extremely thorough and covers many excellent questions and logistics. But, a few extra pointers will help make the process more enjoyable and easier to navigate:
- Request a descriptive summary of the proposal. Unless you are fluent in AV equipment terminology (and bravo if you are!), looking at eight pages of an equipment list would be like reading eight pages of a medical chart. And a sales brochure is great, but that’s a general marketing piece and not pertinent to your individual meeting.
- Be sure to include your own descriptive summary of your desired outcomes in your RFP. Include pictures of events that you like, or at least a thoughtful description of your event and what you’d like to see in a bid.
- Contrary to popular methods, consider disclosing the ballpark dollar amount of your AV budget. If you’ve done your pre-RFP homework you already have an idea of costs – this is your opportunity to see the variance in types of services that you can get for your budget.
Certainly you cannot expect to master the AV language or how to manage an AV crew, but these few simple steps should help make the most challenging part of your job just a little more bearable!