Is Your AV Provider Protecting Your Brand or Protecting Their Profits?

What You Need to Know about Hidden Fees and Unnecessary Costs

Budget is often the biggest challenge in event production. You may find you have to scratch ideas because they don’t meet your budget. But, did you know that many fees charged by AV providers aren’t necessary? What if you could free up money for your event simply by not overpaying for AV services?


It’s true, some vendors overcharge for services. Unless you know exactly what to look for in a quote, an production company can take advantage of what you might not know. It’s time to partner with an agency that will protect your brand, not their profits.


You need to look out for fees related to:


  • Equipment you don’t need

  • Labor charges beyond what's needed

  • Extra fees that aren’t defined


Do You Really Need It?

Events come in all shapes and sizes. From large-scale to intimate, each setting has its own needs to make your vision a reality. The problem is, many AV vendors recommend equipment you simply don't need. Why? Their priority is their profits, not your brand.

The best way to determine if the equipment is necessary is to educate yourself on the basics of AV equipment. You can do your own research but the vendor should be able to offer you some insights. When reviewing the quote with the vendor, ask exactly how something works and why it’s necessary.



For example, if you require audio, lighting and video on a small stage for a venue that holds 250 people, you don’t need line array speakers that are meant for much bigger venues and crowds. Yes, the equipment will do the job, but it’s like using a sledgehammer for a single nail. You won’t always need the biggest or the best to get the job done well.


Another area of equipment overcharging concern is when AV providers spec the newest version of equipment. Newer can mean better, but that’s not always the case. Newer technology comes with its own possible hiccups as well as a larger price tag. You don’t need the 2020 model of a vehicle to get to work every day. The 2018 version is probably just as capable.


Padding the bill with equipment you don’t need is the most common occurrence in AV quotes that will inflate your costs. Don’t let your budget dwindle because of high dollar equipment you don’t need.


Labor Costs: Look at the Fine Print

Depending on the size of your event, you may have just a few workers or an entire team. Every one of those bodies represents a cost. And those costs may vary depending on roles. You may pay more for an lead role versus someone who just connects cables. However, it’s often hard to determine what these rates are.


Depending on how the quote is organized, labor may be on the proposal under multiple lines with different figures. Look at each labor line item to determine what the role is, how many staff are required and that role’s hourly rate. Compare each section. Then ask questions. Why do you need x number of staff for this? Why are some roles more expensive than others?

Beyond what you actually see on the quote, also be prepared for the fine print. Hourly wages may fluctuate depending on the day—weekends are typically higher—and time of day. There is also the concern that labor costs are increased after a certain number of hours. A typical work day in the industry is 10 hours. Rates increase to one and a half times the rate from 10 to 12 hours. Anything over 12 hours would be paid two times the normal rate. However, some companies define a full day as eight hours with anything over eight hours paid at one and a half times, and anything over 10 hours would be a twice the rate. Read the terms and conditions to be sure you are clear on the number of hours the vendor defines as a workday.


Inserting extra fees in the labor portion is rather commonplace in the industry. You’ll see this more with AV firms that employ their own staff. They have to cover the expenses and salaries for employees. And they are glad to pass the costs over to you.


Extra, Extra: All Those “Other” Fees

Quotes are infamous for “other” or undefined fees. The hope of vendors that add these to quotes is that you won’t ask questions. They bet on you overlooking them and signing the contract. But, you’re way too savvy for that. If you are paying for something, you have every right to see what it is.


What are these “other” fees anyway? One of the most prevalent is a service fee. You’ll see these more with on-site preferred AV vendors. The service fee is some percentage of your total bill. It’s hard to describe what you get for this fee. It’s basically like paying a fee to contract with them. And why in the world should you have to pay for that?

You shouldn’t. If you see this in a quote, once again, put on your interrogation hat to get to the bottom of it. If you aren’t convinced it’s fair, then keep looking for your ideal AV agency.


Some other fees you need to watch out for, include:

  • Tax: Most states don’t require the AV company to charge you any tax if you have labor in addition to the equipment for your event. This is another fee that the hotel’s AV provider is famous for charging. We in the industry call it base price, plus, plus meaning Base price + service + tax.

  • Credit card fees: If you use a corporate credit card to pay, you may get hit with a fee for doing so. Companies may insist on this fee due to the percentage they have to pay for merchant processing.

  • Shipping costs: Freight charges, which are expected but should still be reviewed.

  • Unnecessary Fees: Congrats, you have decided to choose an outside vendor for your event, now announcing that will turn the hotel’s in-house AV provider to become less than favorable. They will try to hit you with a 30,000-internet bill, a loading dock usage fee, a room monitor fee, and an elevator use fee. Which is all crap, because they don’t own the exclusive rights to use any of these. Check out our blog posts: Know your rights on hotel wifi costs and What you might not know about the hotel’s in house preferred AV provider.


Choose an AV Provider Focused on the Success of Your Event

Every AV company is certainly in business to make a profit. There’s nothing deceptive about that. Like any well-run company, AV providers should have a clear understanding of their margins. What’s not acceptable are firms that price gouge to pad their profits, with no concern for your brand or budget.


Don’t assume all these fees and costs are standard. Look closely at equipment specs, labor quantity, labor charges beyond hourly rates, and extra fees. There are many agencies that care about the success of your event just as much as they care about making a profit.


At the AV Agency, you’ll never receive a quote for undefined or bloated costs. We submit clean, easy-to-read quotes that detail exactly what equipment and labor you need. With us, you’ll enjoy a successful event at a fair price. Learn more about show services today or call us at 702-820-3128 to get a free quote for your next event.

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