In the AV industry we have lively conversations regarding the interesting tactics some companies will use to finagle every penny from your precious budget. And while many outlandish charges do exist, there are just as many that are justifiable. So, to clarify any confusion over what is real and what is not, here are some of the commonly questioned line-item expenses that are worth every dollar:
Do I really have to pay for items like gaff tape and batteries?
Often listed as “consumables” but seeming more like “extras,” these items are hard costs for an AV company. A large event could potentially use thousands of dollars in these types of materials, so charging for them is a fair practice. Included in this category might be tape (electrical, gaffers, board), professional batteries, visqueen, Trickline, tie-downs, etc. It is fair, however, for planners to request an approximate accounting of these materials after the event.
Why am I paying for power? Shouldn’t the hotel handle that?
In rare cases, your AV provider will handle all charges for you, including those from the hotel for rigging and power. If this is the case, then you should ensure that there is no markup and the cost is being passed through directly. Also, in the event that the hotel will be charging power (and most likely rigging) to your master account, don’t hesitate to ask your AV provider to double check those fees for accuracy.
Are cables really that expensive?
When I first started in this business, I couldn’t get over the number of cables in our warehouse. And then I had to learn about the various functions of those cables. (Sidenote: Sometimes cables are referred to as “snakes.”) Often these carry more than an audio signal; the video signal or power can travel down the cable, too. And, yes, they are quite costly — ranging in the thousands to tens of thousands of dollars!
So let’s hear it Plan Your Meetings planners: What are the AV costs that are most baffling or mysterious to you? And what are the terms or practices that you just can’t figure out? Some of you may even be wondering what in the world I mean by “gaff tape” or “visqueen”; if so, let me know! Please ask these questions so we can feature your greatest concerns right here in this column.
Thanks! And don’t forget — “Power to the Planners through AV Education!”