Whether you’re a conference centre, hotel, exhibition hall or arena the last few years have been tough. There have been winners and losers but one thing that is common between all event venues is that they are looking for innovative new ways to increase their margin and profitability whilst also improving their service.
One easy area in which you can grow your revenue, increase your margin and improve your service is the audio visual services that you offer. It’s possible that you have some equipment in-house or perhaps you have an audio visual supplier who provides everything for you on an even-by-event basis. Most venues use a combination of the two. But is you audio visual supplier doing everything that they should to help you?
Here are 9 things that you should expect from your AV supplier as a matter of course.
1. No Contract
In the eyes of your clients, you are only as good as your last event. You should be happy with the AV supplier that you are recommending to your clients both in terms of quality and price and being tied into a long term contract with an AV company that you don’t trust or don’t get on with can be a venue manager’s worst nightmare. You want to confidently recommend your AV supplier so that more of your clients use them and you can generate more revenue either from a revenue share or discount model. A really good AV hire company won’t expect you to sign a long-term exclusivity contract because they are confident that the relationship will be mutually beneficial and that they are capable of pleasing you with a consistently good result.
2. Showcase Events
Your audio visual supplier should be delighted if you offer them the opportunity to showcase what they can do for your prospective clients through a showcase event or open day that you are organising. We’ve met some event venue managers that have said their AV company is not willing to offer them support for their open days free of charge. OK, you can’t expect them to be involved in more than one or, at a stretch, two each year and you can’t expect them to support you again if nobody turns up to the first one but it should be mutually beneficial (and easy) to get your AV supplier to support your venue open days.
3. Revenue Share Model
You should be making money from any AV and staging that you sell to your clients. One way to achieve this is through a revenue share model. You will usually have one or more AV suppliers that you recommend to your clients. The clients contact the AV companies, receive quotes and book the equipment or technical services that they need. Then the AV company reports the amount spent to the venue who then invoice them for a percentage of the total amount as a revenue share (usually between 10% and 20% depending on whether the revenue share just covers equipment hire or labour and consumables costs as well).
We recommend that you suggest more than one AV company to your clients (usually two or three). This will ensure that the AV companies are competitive with their pricing meaning that you are more likely to receive a revenue share cheque from one of them – the last thing you want is your client finding their own, cheaper supplier another way.
4. Discount Model
Another way in which you can make money from any AV and staging that your clients need is to hire it yourself at a discounted price and hire it on to your client at a higher price.
If you work with just one or two AV hire companies on a regular basis you can build up a great relationship with them and can expect a discount in the range of 20% – 30% off their services. You can choose to pass some or all of this saving on to your clients with the difference being yours to keep.
The only danger for you with this model is if something goes wrong with the AV. Because you are contracting with the end client for their AV needs rather than the AV company contracting with them directly this could be more hassle than its worth. However, if you work with a reliable audio visual supplier that you are confident you can trust to deliver, this should not really be a problem.
One of the ways that your AV supplier can support you in the sales process is by creating floor plans of your event spaces and supplying 3D computer-generated visualisations of how the space will look with the proposed set up for each of your clients or event types. This is really helpful as it allows your client to understand how their event will look ahead of time. It reduces requests for last minute layout changes on the day and can help you secure their custom as they are confident in what you are proposing to deliver.
Photos are a fantastic way to sell your conference or event venue to prospective clients. Your AV company will often take photos of the events that they work on at your venue for their own promotional purposes and they should be more than happy to share these with you to use on your website and in other promotional materials (as long as you give them a credit or link to their site). Many venues have a few photos taken by professional photographers all on one day with one set up in their promotional material and on their websites and social media. Even if they are not quite so polished, photos that your AV supplier offer you over the years can be used to give your clients a better understanding of how different room configurations look in real life.
7. Website Profiles / Showcases
Most AV hire companies have a website and many will be willing to showcase your venue on their blog or in a specific venue section of the site if they are the preferred supplier at your venue. This can drive enquiries but also drive traffic to your own website.
8. Help You Reduce Cost with Long Term Hire
It’s likely that there are some items of AV equipment that you hire very regularly. Examples include staging, projectors and plasma screens. It may be more cost effective for you to hire these on a monthly basis rather than a daily basis. Most AV companies will offer substantial discounts for long term hires. You also save on any delivery and set up charges, especially if your AV supplier is willing to train some of your in-house team on how to set up some of the more basic items. You can choose to pass this saving onto your clients (making your proposal more financially attractive) or you can increase your margin on AV equipment through these reduced costs.
For example, a 5000 lumen projector costs in the region of £120 to hire on a daily basis. You could hire this on a monthly basis for around £500. Therefore if you use a 5000 lumen projector more than 4-5 times each month it would make sense to hire it for the whole month.
By long-term hiring key items of AV equipment rather than buying them your AV supplier will still be responsible for maintenance and consumables (like expensive projector lamps) and you can keep demanding the most up to date products rather than being stuck with something that you have bought for the next five years. If something goes wrong, your AV supplier will be on hand to provide you with a replacement super-fast so that your clients’ events are not affected. You can also hire the equipment for your busy periods and then give it back in the quieter periods which reduces your overall costs.
9. Join You at Sales Meetings
Your AV supplier should be willing to help your sales team to sell the venue and the additional services that can be offered. It’s often helpful to have a member of your AV supplier’s team at key sales appointments with new and existing venue hire clients. A good AV company will see the mutual benefit in this and be more than happy to assist you in any way possible.