Mulligan Management Group, LLC

AV Decisions Made Easy: 10 Reasons You Want to Outsource


Even though your organization owns some audio visual equipment, it is becoming increasingly apparent that your aged equipment and bare-bones staff is not in a position to keep up with the technological demands most speakers, attendees, and exhibitors desire. 

So now you are faced with a dilemma -- should you keep forging on with the same-old equipment OR rely on the conference services staff to meet your AV needs OR consider the possibility of outsourcing your audio visual needs to a meeting equipment provider?   

Here are some questions to consider when evaluating an internal decision or going with an outside firm whether it be the convention center’s preferred vendor or your own AV Company. 


  1. What happens if the key AV experts leave the company? 
  2. Who is keeping up with new technology options and knows how the attendee/speaker/exhibitor will benefit from said technology? 
  3. If the internal team is installing and striking the AV equipment, on top of maintaining and storing the same equipment, what opportunities are going to be lost in the process?  
  4. How much time will it take your team to do the functions listed above? 
  5. What is the plan to acquire new equipment and retire old stock?



  1. What is your response time parameter on service calls, responding to phone inquiries, and emails?
  2. How do you keep up with technological changes?
  3. What certifications do your employees hold and how do you educate your staff?
  4. What additional resources do you have on your team? 
  5. What other events have you provided audiovisual rentals for that are similar to this one?  



  1. Create a communication schedule and plan. Have regularly scheduled calls to make certain everything is on target. 
  2. Outline clear responsibilities to your internal and external team members. Don't leave anything to chance. 
  3. Control costs by understanding all the equipment and labor costs, especially overtime rates. 
  4. Make certain you interview and ask for references from the AV companies you are evaluating.  


The bottom line is to find an AV company that can work well with your internal team. Outsourcing may not be right for your organization, but it is worth the time to analyze its value especially if you are running an organization with a limited number of employees. 

If you choose the right strategic partner, your staff can gain back a whole lot of time that can now be dedicated to bringing in more revenue opportunities while focusing on your core business. 

In addition, your event audio visual rental company can provide the best value by focusing on the right equipment to meet the needs of your attendees, speakers and exhibitors. 




When should you use the in-house company or search for your own event audio visual rental firm? What if the hotel or conference services manager is pressuring you into using their in-house AV supplier? While this may all seem like it is in the interest of great customer service, what you should know is that their underlying motivation may have more to do with money than what is in the best interest of your event.

Meeting facilities recommend certain suppliers because they can earn a significant commission if you choose that supplier. However, since AV is such an integral part of all meetings and trade shows, doesn't it make sense that YOUR ORGANIZATION be at the helm of this choice?

Bottom Line: You want the best supplier for the best dollars. Period.

Venues may have to charge you what are considered "fair and reasonable" fees when you choose an outside vendor, but those fees must be specifically spelled out in any contract you sign.

Here are 10 situations you may encounter when planning your meeting, event or trade show and when it makes sense to go with the in-house provider or an outside agency.  

SITUATION: The venue says you MUST use their In-house Supplier.

A venue cannot prohibit you from bringing in your own rental company in the meeting space rented by your organization provided it is consistent with the purpose of the event and such equipment conforms to local safety standards. 

SITUATION: You need to replace broken equipment immediately.

In-house AV companies usually have the edge here because they are always on-site. However, most event audiovisual rental companies bring spares (at no charge).  All you need to do is write this into your rental contract and consider having an AV technician on-site at all times.

SITUATION: You need the most up-to-date equipment.

Event Audio Visual Rental Companies are constantly evaluating and purchasing state-of-the-art equipment to keep their clients happy and keep their competitive edge. Once a venue purchases equipment, they are likely to hold onto that equipment for up to 3-5 years, regardless of what is happening with technology. 

SITUATION: You need certified personnel with specific expertise in maintaining and setting up the equipment. 

There is no clear cut winner here; this is where you are going to have to ask a lot of questions. Is the staff certified? How many times have they set up this equipment? How long has the staff been with the organization? The edge usually goes to the outsourced firm, but not always.

SITUATION: Your event is in a remote location, far from any outsourced firm.

In-house AV is going to save your budget on this one. If you have to pay for outsourced technician's mileage, meals, time and accommodations, this can add up in a hurry. Especially for small out-of-the-way meetings, in-house may be the way to go. 

SITUATION: You need a partner for your event, someone you can truly depend on.

Event Audio Visual Rental Companies step up the level of service because they want you to become a repeat customer.

Ricky Robichaud, CMP, Meeting and Event Manager at Cognizant Technology Solutions said "Bringing in outside AV can increase the level of service you're providing tenfold. Essentially, they become an extension of your staff and enable you to focus your attention on your job, rather than worrying about oversight of another vendor."

SITUATION: You need to negotiate cost because you have a limited AV Budget.

Event Audio Visual Rental Organizations usually have the edge because they offer better rates than the in-house firm. Usually the in-house AV rates are set with little room for negotiation, where there are options with outside firms. In addition, labor is often the biggest expense when contracting AV, so if you negotiate that up front and have it in writing, you are more likely to keep your budget intact. 

Christy Lamagna, CMP, CMM, CTSM, Chief Strategist for Strategic Meetings & Events summed it up best when she said, "I cannot imagine using in-house exclusively for my clients. Their meetings are just too important for me to take that chance and my time is too valuable to re-educate the AV team with each new program I do."


SITUATION: You need to make certain you will have no hidden fees.

If you choose not to use the In-house AV Company, the hotel may try and charge you for bringing in another organization, patching into the house sound system, and electrical outlets. They may also try and charge you for move-in and move-out time.


Your AV partner has the same rights you do and as long as they provide the conference services manager with a move-in/move-out schedule in advance, there should not be any fees associated with those times and dates.


Often times, meeting facilities will roll their electrical fees into the in-house AV cost and it will be hidden from the planner. Understand the additional electrical workload the outside company’s equipment is going to place on the venue's normal day-to-day electrical usage. This is one area you should expect a fee, but your AV staff should help you determine a reasonable cost estimate so there are no surprises. 

Get everything in writing and make certain you know the cost comparisons of using the in-house AV vendor vs. bringing your own audiovisual partner. Challenge the charges you don't understand or don't seem to hold up as being "fair and reasonable." Your leverage is before the contract is signed, not after. So, uphold your power and don't give it away.

SITUATION: You are hit with rigging fees on your master bill. 

This is one area you may have to pay for the venue’s rigging contractor, especially if safety or infrastructure concerns abound. If you are attaching anything to the ceiling or walls, understand the fees that will apply and again, make sure they are fair and reasonable.

SITUATION: The Venue informs your AV Company they cannot store their equipment onsite. 

Make certain to work into your facilities contract an AV storage room that can be locked. There may be a nominal charge for this, but for a large meeting, it will be worth having all the equipment onsite for the duration of the meeting.

SmartSource Rentals can provide your organization with conference and trade show equipment rentals. Give us a call today at (800) 888-8686 to learn how we can be a fantastic alternative to in-house AV providers. Priced to meet your needs, we service the meetings and events industry for the entire United States. 

Go Back

Thanks for the great advice after all, deciding whether or not to use an outside AV firm can be a bid deal. However, the article brings up a good point about the AV firm keeping up with technological changes. After all, if you're going to hire someone to install your AV system then you want them to be using the latest tech available.

This is true before choosing any Audio Visual Services, it is necessary to know about AV services in-depth. Thanks for sharing such wonderful tips which will be very helpful for us in selecting the best Audio Visual Rental Services.