Here are some tips on how meeting planners can save money on audiovisual and presentation technology.

  • Tear down those costs. Often, AV companies will charge the same labor fees for tear down as they do for set up. Strike, or tear down, takes less time, so tear down fees should be about half or three-quarters of what set up charges are.
  • Matching sets. Put session that require the same type of seating in the same rooms so you don’t have to pay for room reset costs.
  • Work with outgoing associations. Find out what associations or organizations are meeting in the convention center or venue before you and see if you can piggyback off of any of their sets or services. For example, if they are using the same AV provider or decorator, you might be able to work out a situation where they leave certain room sets, staging, black drape for your event and you foot the bill for dismantle and move out.
  • Bid out AV and other services. Consider putting AV service out to bid. Not always, but in many cases, you can find better deals by hiring an outside AV provider instead of using in house AV.
  • Bring your own flip charts, markers, etc.
  • Ask for one complimentary microphone per room.
  • Ask for complimentary two-way radios when negotiating your AV contract.
  • Rent only the size screen that you need. Work with your AV person to determine the minimum size for room and setup requirements.
  • Don't arbitrarily put AV in every meeting room. Ask your speakers and moderators whether they'll need it first.
  • Deal directly with the AV company. It minimizes miscommunications and middleman charges.
  • Travel with your own extension cords and surge protectors. They cost a fortune if you need them on the spur of the moment.
  • Don't order draping for screens; no one will notice.
  • When you expect to have extensive AV requirements, book a conference center, most of which include equipment in the cost.
  • Use your hotel's closed- circuit television capabilities to post the program and program changes, room assignments, exhibit hours, announcements, and activities.
  • Just before the meeting, reconfirm your speakers' AV needs. Presenters may have originally requested equipment they no longer plan to use.
  • If you expect to be using it a lot, rent equipment such as a fax machine or copier.

Sources: Jason Eggleston, operations manager, meeting logistics, American Society of Microbiology, Washington, D.C.; Barbara Dunlavey, CMP, CAE, executive director, Biomedical Engineering Society, Landover, Md., Vicky Betzig, CMP, founder, Meetings Industry Consulting, Brookfield, Wisc.; Christine Simpson, CMP, meeting planner, Gas Processors Association, Tulsa, Okla.; Gary Rosenberg, CMP, partner, Rosenberg and Risinger, Culver City, Calif.; Sandy Biback, CMP CMM Imagination+ Meeting Planners Inc.