Each of these topics better relates to partnering with your audio visual company, rather than viewing them as just a vendor.
As in any partnership, communication is the key to long term success. This means both regularly scheduled conversations about the progress of the event (pre-event, on-site, and post-event). It also means open dialogue about concerns that either side feels may derail the partnership. I’ve found that the best partnerships we’ve built over the years involve a pre-scheduled mix of face-to-face and webinar style meetings focused on the key topics of pre-event planning, from the event marketing plan, to room layouts, to stage decor and scenic, etc.
Rely on their expertise
Remember, you’re hiring a company to manage a significant portion of an event for you. If you don’t trust them then they’re not the right fit. If you do trust them, then clearly define your goals, work with them to develop a plan of execution, and let them work the plan. You’re looking for more than an equipment provider. A true partner will offer input based on their experience.
Develop a file sharing system early on
One of the biggest mistakes I see planners and presenters make is dumping a ton of media content on the audio visual team just moments before a session goes live. In today’s tech driven environment it isn’t difficult to set up a simple DropBox or GoogleDrive file share system that allows the media content to be delivered to, and tested by, the tech team well in advance of the event. This simple change has increased the success rate of our client’s presentations tenfold, and significantly reduced on-site stress.
Discuss your broader organizational challenges (i.e. schedule constantly changing? “butts in seats” (pre-event marketing)?, etc.)
Get their input / perspective on how to overcome these challenges. If you find that your schedule changes up to the last minute, making the printing of directional signs and program books a last minute scramble, perhaps working with your technology partner on digital directionals, and a conference app would be more cost effective, and allow you greater last minute flexibility over going the traditional “printed” route.
Determine the ROI you’re going for, and how that will be measured and achieved
ROI doesn’t have to refer to financial measures. Many returns won’t be directly measurable in dollars and cents, but will have an impact on budget over time. A great example are the Livestreams we do for our customers. When a customer expresses a challenge in attracting and retaining live attendees at an event, we will often develop a marketing campaign with a Livestream component aimed at building momentum around the event. Technically, a Livestream costs money and thus represents a negative ROI, but the measurable results in terms of increased attendance make the investment well worth it. Clearly expressing your goals, and then working with your audio visual team to determine how those goals will be judged and what has to be done for them to be considered “exceeded,” is key to building a true partnership.
Empower them to do more than just AV, and expect them to do it!
I often hear new customers express amazement when I tell them that the hotel’s room set isn’t what is shown on the diagram, and I want to be sure the change is accurate. As simple as it may seem, having a partner who really looks out for you, even in areas that they’re not technically being “paid” to oversee, can make a world of difference in the outcome of your next program. Remember, you can’t be everywhere at once, so having a second, third or fourth set of eyes is truly priceless.
Ask their honest opinion of what you’re doing.
A good company is a partner, meaning they’re willing to give you perspective on what it is that you’re doing well, and what you may want to reconsider. Remember, a good audio visual partner has years of experience in the industry, and likely produces dozens (or more) events each year. Learn to rely on their experience and not feel alienated by their feedback.
To discuss ways of partnering with Crescent Event Productions, please click the “Contact Us” link below.
Chris Gerhart is the owner of Crescent Event Productions, Inc., a leading, national event and production management company.