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Hotel AV vs. Outside AV

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

Several times recently, we've heard from clients upset by their venue stipulating that they will have to pay a penalty for using an outside AV vendor. Our most loyal and discriminating clients will find ways around the added cost of using their favorite external production partner. They ask us, "Why do I have to pay the hotel a penalty?" The answer is you don't.

Almost all hotels outsource their "in-house" AV service and will lose revenue if the in-house team doesn't do the work. The truth is that the "in-house" AV services generally pay a hefty commission to the hotel. When you bring in your production partner, the hotel has to recoup that lost revenue. Hotels can either charge you a fee or, during your setup or strike, a room monitor fee be added to the master to ensure that no damage happens to the hotel.

You don't have to pay a penalty to the hotel for using outside AV vendors if you plan and use the leverage you have.

As the buyer of services from a hotel, you have many cards to play before you sign a hotel contract. Early on, you have significant leverage to negotiate the best terms for your event, especially if it's a multi-year contract and you're securing a large block of rooms. When selecting a venue and signing your contract, you must consider everything (not just AV, but F&B, internet, and other special fees).

In-House A/V Providers

An in-house A/V team will generally know the venue and could be local and communicate directly with the team and other hotel departments. The convenience alone makes an in-house A/V company an easy choice when your needs are relatively basic, but that comes with a significate cost. Sometimes as much as 40% more than outside vendors.

The Verdict?

Choosing between the 'in-house' AV and an outside A/V company can be challenging. The allure of convenience is often what makes many groups decide to go with the 'in-house' AV company. The 'in-house' company can be a good alternative if you want a basic production level, knowledge of the venue, and easy integration with the hotel.

Where the 'in-house' company can tend to falter is where outside companies excel. As the 'in-house' company does not move between venue locations, their margin for building lasting relationships with you and your events is small, and they tend to have less room for variety. Outside A/V companies can be involved every step of the way, from the planning process to the execution of the event and any last-minute needs. Outside partners stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies and ensure their equipment meets the task. External companies are more flexible and creative, working with you from concept to creation and execution, but may not have as much knowledge about the venue upfront.

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