Why Meeting Planners Need A/V Minutemen
Do you remember learning about the Minutemen of the Revolutionary War in school? The Minutemen soldiers were America’s first line of defense against Britain, trained to be ready at a minute’s warning. Their contribution to the war effort contributed significantly to achieving victory. In much the same way, the success or failure for meeting planners depends on having an Audio/Visual (A/V) team capable of resolving problems quickly and efficiently.
Consider your Audio/Visual Company Carefully
Too often, I’ve seen meeting planners opt for the cheapest A/V company rather than those with more experience. While keeping costs down is a valid concern, it’s important to keep in mind that the primary goal for any event is—success! Whether hiring in-house or an outsourced, attendees view the performance of your A/V company as an extension of your entire event and organization. Miscues on their part are perceived as a failure on your part. While I was in New Orleans a few years ago, I remember there was another events’ general session was taking place in a Ballroom nearby. It was quite impressive with dual screens, multiple cameras throughout the room, confidence monitors up front, and even a laser show! A few minutes into the meeting, the unthinkable happened. No power, no sound, no lights—no anything! The problem? A/V technicians plugged both sound and lighting into the same circuit which blew the fuses resulting in total loss of power for their meeting room.
Crash and Burn
As you can imagine, everyone working that event were frantic in their search for a solution. One could feel the embarrassment in the air as over 300 attendees waited, patiently, for the show to resume. There were no Minutemen that day, as it took more than 30 agonizing minutes to correct as staff had to reroute audio and electrical cables, call hotel electricians to install additional power. It was a mess. I found out a short time later that show organizers were fuming both with embarrassment and anger at the lack of preparation their A/V company showcased. The tragedy here is that this could’ve been prevented had the head A/V technician informed the hotel of their plans BEFOREHAND and requested additional power to be installed. Simple, easy steps that would have prevented crash and burn.
Competency Upstages Costs
What association meeting planners often overlook, is that A/V companies work within budgets, just like everyone else. The cheapest company on the show floor often bring technicians with the least experience and renting outdated equipment. Far too many times, I have seen “technicians” working A/V for the very first time in their lives. While learning on the job is required for many of these types of professions, this model only works when things are running optimally. This trickle-down effect results in unnecessary delays when problems arise, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of attendees, speakers, and exhibitors alike.
A Successful Meeting is No Accident
With so many Audio/Visual companies out there, what can be done to find one to reach a triumphant outcome? Look for those with a proven track record of success. Don’t let your event be someone else’s training ground. Ask for two or three references discovering what they know of the meeting location and the experience of their staff. At the outset, demand that operators are present in or near all the meeting rooms at all times to assist speakers setting up their presentations and address any problems that may arise during the event.
A successful meeting is no accident. Careful planning, great event technology and a competent A/V team are critical components for success. With A/V Minutemen leading the charge, your event is headed for victory. Here is a great checklist.