Every event begins with an idea. Those ideas then get fleshed out and an understanding of what you need to execute begins to form. From these executables, requirements are determined, relating to how you want your event to be seen and heard. Once you have this part developed, it’s time for the quote.
Not every quote looks the same. Some will have more detail than expected, while others could be considered cryptic, they’re so vague. You may have even been burned in the past because you thought the quote included things it did not. You certainly don’t want to be in that situation again. So, we’re sharing what every event planner needs to know about AV quotes. With these basics understood, you’ll be able to make the best decision for your event.
AV Quotes Defined
An AV quote is the actual listing of equipment, labor and other materials that are necessary to pull off your vision for the event. It will also include pricing for each of these items. An AV quote may come in many formats: from multi-page proposals with illustrations to just a simple Excel document. Longer doesn’t always mean better, but a longer quote will most likely have more information than a single sheet. An AV quote may not be inclusive of every fee required. So, you’ll also need to determine what it doesn’t include. These are all questions to ask from the very beginning.
Reading an AV Quote
AV quotes can be confusing, either because they are too long or too short. Too much information may be overwhelming, and you need to know only the highlights. While a quote that is too short may leave much up to interpretation. Quotes will typically be broken into the major AV areas: audio, video, lighting, labor, and miscellaneous items.
The audio section should denote speakers, soundboards and microphones. Ensure that the equipment specified here will provide the volume and range needed for your venue.
The video section consists of projectors, sources, switching, screens and cameras. Review this for hardware compatibility to be sure it aligns with your vision.
Lighting will cover rigging, lights and power distribution.
Labor defines how many crew will be needed for set-up, event duration and break-down. This section should designate what type of technicians will be needed, as there may be different skillsets required for audio versus visual. If there are charges relating to labor travel or accommodations, it should be noted here.
There may be a miscellaneous section at the end with items for staging or other areas not covered in audio, video and lighting, or other expenses related to travel and accommodations for staff.
Breaking quotes up into sections should make it easy to see what areas are costing the most. Should you need to trim costs based on budget, this division could be a big help in making these decisions.
What an AV Quote Should Display
To set the basic benchmark of what an AV quote should include, start with the equipment. Each major piece of equipment should be described. Major equipment would be a projector, soundboard or any other piece that does a job. It’s not every cable or input needed. To include that would make for a very long quote. You don’t want to get dragged down into these granular things. Even though an exhaustive list isn’t on the quote, you should see language like “all cables and connectors included.” This lets you know that yes, these have been accounted for and that they are part of the price.
Where you want more of a description is at the beginning of each section where systems are discussed. You’ll want to see on the quote what the system does or what effect it will add to the event. This is when you match your expectations to the capabilities offered. If you don’t see alignment here then you’ll need to discuss this with the AV company.
There may be specific areas that could yield cost savings. AV services can certainly become expensive, depending on what you want to accomplish. There are many options for finding savings: equipment, labor, venue costs and long-term discounts. Be prepared to negotiate, but do so with the understanding that you want to find ways to optimize spend not compromise quality. Learn more about savings in the post Eight Ways to Find Savings on AV Services for Your Event.
How to Compare
If you are looking at multiple quotes, it may be hard to initially compare them, as they may be written very differently. The differences could be related to the equipment but also on how fees are charged (day vs. hourly). You can attempt to decipher the differences on your own, but you might be comparing apples vs. tomatoes. It’s recommended to ask questions that provide clarity. This allows you to compare the two quotes fairly. Find further tips on how to compare here (blog link on comparing quotes).
Terms and Conditions
AV quotes, like any quote, should include terms and conditions. These are often the fine print, but they are important. You need to understand liability responsibilities for equipment, the venue and attendees. It also likely outlines payment terms and what deposits are due and when. There is a wealth of knowledge in this content and worth reviewing. If you are unsure about some of the terms, ask your legal counsel.
Navigating the AV Quote
While you don’t need to be an AV expert to review a quote, it never hurts to learn the basics of AV. To read and comprehend a quote accurately, you’ll also need to ask a lot of questions. These questions should be easily answered by the AV company. If you get push back on questions or find they don’t have very good answers, this may be a sign to move on. A reputable AV provider will be glad to share their expertise and help you successfully navigate the quote.
As an AV provider for brands across the country, the AV Agency is a full-service provider of everything audio and visual. We produce events that are seen and heard just as our clients imagine. Get in touch for your AV quote today.