With my old company I looked at a lot of AV quotes, and honestly with Strategic Meeting Tech I STILL look at a lot of AV quotes.
I mention this small item today because of a session that I just attended where the AV company had a significantly negative impact on the presentation the speaker was able to do.
What reminded me of looking at quotes was that I frequently would see areas of a budget where it was obvious that the person preparing it either didn’t know much about it, or didn’t pay much attention to it (often because it wasn’t the “cool” or “fun” stuff like the general session). I was occasionally guilty of this myself early in my career...(adding an EQ to each audio system without really knowing why it was needed.) I also witnessed it even back in the 80’s with a fellow salesman who would just (seemingly) add gear simply to pump up the budget, or just add things he had no idea the cost of that would then lose money when actually subrented for the show.
A quote that I saw a few years back came to mind where the salesman spent many obvious hours crafting the general session quote, drawings, renderings, multiple concepts...then only bid three of the nine breakouts, just forgetting or ignoring the other six. Just be honest with me if you only want to do the main session, but don’t half-ass a bunch of breakout rooms quotes that you’re setting up for failure. On that same bid another company had forgot to put any screens and projectors in the general session room quote...so sloppy work isn’t constrained by company, room or budget size.
The big rooms at this show have been well supported. Cues were hit, levels were good, video appeared exactly when called for...
But in today’s smaller room, problems (I won’t speculate the specific reasons because there are multiple possible issues) totally undercut the presenter. One monitor didn’t work, then both, then one worked and the other flashed off and on. A beligured tech stood on stage and fiddled with the laptop (live on screen), before finally admitting defeat and exiting with the system still flashing on one side. Lucky the presenter knew her stuff and could soldier on and get through most of the presentation (we ran out of time).
But the room design itself also hampered the effectiveness. If you know what a silent disco is...this was a version I’d call a silent session. No loudspeakers, just a translation like and uncomfortable headset and beltpack on each chair. The mechanics of this meant that when she interacted with an audience member it was silent to the rest of us. I wear glasses, but I can’t wear them for close up work...so for me to to take notes I’d have to pull my glasses off, then remove the headset to replace the glasses. The result was I stopped bothering to even try to do any written notes. Also, the effect of only having her microphone feeding sound made me feel like I was isolated and listening to a session in another room...which ironically I could do by changing the channel. Let’s not even consider that 20 or 30 people a day are wearing those with no cleaning going on in the time in between sessions (based on watching the room after ours ended). A well designed small PA would have worked, allowed better interaction and been just fine.
Sometimes the way we do things is based on experience, not just inertia. I’m sure that all this looked great and fun on paper, but did anyone test a session done this way (with headsets)? Did anyone test the feed to the monitors?
I’m not trying to throw anyone under the bus, but so many planners get distracted by shiny objects trying to liven things up...and so many AV companies cut corners to build their margins, but lose sight of proper training, staffing and performance on show site. I see it far too often, and far too widespread. Things go badly, someone gets blamed...then everyone shrugs and nothing really changes. More often then not, next year the planner will pick a vendor on bottom line price again. And there will be a string of the same or slightly different problems which get written off to AV being hard or complex.
When will every show and every single breakout room be done to a high standard?
And done expecting it all to be flawless, while yet having tools to remedy any unusual occurrences that arise?
I’ve been watching this for over 30 years and the names and the gear change...but the problems seem to just be stuck on endless repeat...
We can do better.
And we need to just stop accepting mediocre performance by our AV companies.
There are a million cliche comparisons that I might reach for to describe how I spent my morning here in Las Vegas, but I’ll just settle for saying that it’s already feeling a lot like coming home.
I’ve not made any secret out of having a few challenging years dealing with surgeries and such. It’s been difficult sometimes to focus on the greater industry, on the technology, or to write and podcast about it. I’d follow along as my friends did their events and vicariously try to experience being more involved. But, more often then not I’d have another priority like physical therapy pull me away with greater priorities.
Coming back to IMEX is really the first opportunity I’ve had in quite a while to connect on a national (and international) level with a circle of friends that I’ve made over the years. I’ve been in this business 30+ years, but in some ways today I feel like I’m starting out fresh again. It’s a bit like when you show up on the first day of school and start looking for your friends from last year that you haven’t seen all summer. Do they remember me? Have they changed? Have I changed?
I’ve already seen so many familiar faces, and been greeted like a long-lost relative by a number of people whose work I deeply respect and admire. The folks from IMEX itself are truly some of the best in the world at what they do, and I can already see some of the changes that they’ve made this year in their constant effort to continue evolving and refining this amazing FREE event.. Couple that with people coming in to town from nearly any group or association that you could name and it’s really the one massive tent that can put all of us together under one roof for a few days. Even as I’m writing this I’ve seen folks I haven’t seen in at least a year and reconnected.
Julis Solaris did the opening keynote today. He runs the Event Manager Blog and has a passion for our business that just bursts forth whenever I’ve chatted with him. His presentation on legacy far exceeded my expectations and most importantly did what we hope that any presenter can do. It connected squarely with some very deep emotions. Imagine taking something as simple as sponsorship and finding a way to impact (and save) thousands of lives...wouldn’t we all like to leave that sort of mark on the world? His example did in a very unique and powerful way.
I’m not going to try and recreate his words to tell that story, because he has already created a free ebook that you can download which will better tell those stories in his voice and in his way. You can find that on his blog: https://www.eventmanagerblog.com/the-power-of-events-free-report (The story that I’m referencing aboveis about a Brazilian soccer club, and at the end there were a lot of folks reaching for a tissue.)
THAT kind of impact and connection is the amazing power that we all get to harness in doing our jobs.
As MPI says...”When we meet, we change the world”...
I’m feeling ready again to dive in and help be part of making those changes.
Next week I'll be at both IMEX America and at LDI (Live Design Institutes) in Las Vegas. I'm hoping to come back with a lot of new industry updates, information and data about the newest technology.
Hopefully I'll be able to catch up with many friends from across both the meetings industry and AV worlds.
If you'll be attending IMEX, give a shout and look for me walking the show floor all three days and on Smart Monday.
See you in Las Vegas!
There's been a bit of a lag in posting and in my podcasts. I was off dealing with an unexpected fourth back surgery, and as much as I enjoy doing this; it all had to take a backseat to therapy and working on my recovery.
The good news is that it seems to have finally fixed the problems with a much more long-lasting solution. The challenge was that my back kept insisting on sliding forward at L-3. That's something it's just not designed to do. The previous fusion wasn't strong enough, thus the fourth surgery to do a more extensive bone graft and build a larger fusion apparatus.
I just saw my. doctor and looked over my current X-Ray's to see that at six months out, everything is holding as it should. I'm finally pretty much pain free for the first time in years and building my stamina back up to get back out on show site with my clients.
This may seem like a fairly personal journey to be sharing. But, I've hesitated to do much of anything related to work or new customers until I had this situation resolved. I didn't want to take on a project that I wasn't going to be able to support to the highest standards and quality. I've continued working with some existing clients who have been not just clients, but friends in some cases for almost 30 years.
The other reason I'm sharing this is that I believe in full transparency with my customers and with anyone who might someday be a customer. I always want to be able to look you in the eye and be completely honest, including about my abilities to provide the work and service that I'm promising. It's a core value here and a part of mutual trust we need to have in each other to work together.
So, I'm back and I'm excited about finding new clients and new opportunities to work with planners who need technical direction and support to make their meetings successful!
Here's a little glimpse at the new hardware that I'm sure will be tons of fun the next time I pass through a TSA checkpoint at the airport...
Jon Trask, CMP, CMM
A passion to improve both the meetings and Audio Visual industries by helping to create better and more effective technology conversations..