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.
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!
On todays podcast Jon talks about his upcoming webinar at "Meetings Today". On October 26th at 1pm EDT he'll be presenting a webinar on the topic of "Contracts: Audiovisual & Speakers". Here's a link: Meetings Today where you can register in advance for the webinar.
Today he gives a preview by discussing AV Quotes and the material that's presented in them. An overview of the various sections and a few pointers for negotiating before you reach the contract stage with a vendor.
Be sure and mark your calendar to join him on the 26th of October over at Meetings Today
Last week we talked about therole of a fire marshal in keeping attendees safe at an event. Continuing on the theme of safety and security, this week we’ll take a look at rigging and provide a brief overview of how that fits into the responsibility for a planner to assure thattheir attendees are safe and comfortable during their time spent at the event.
ESTA (Entertainment Services & Technology Association)
Technical Standards Program
Just this week there’s been some discussions in the news relating to room capacity at some political events. We’re non-political here on the podcast, but it started us thinking about the role of a fire marshal and the greater subject of event safety in general.
When you’re planning an event a part of your responsibility is to make sure that the attendees are safe and comfortable during their time spent at the event. This can touch on a few areas, but today we start with a brief overview of the role of Fire Marshals and their responsibility for helping to keep your attendees safe.
Event Safety Checklist from Eastern Michigan University: Event Safety & Planning Checklist
ESTA: Entertainment Services & Technology Association
Health & Safety Executive (UK): Event Safety
IATSE Local 22: Event Safety Training Guid
Strategic Meeting Tech Podcast Show #9 - Jon talks about AV site surveys and tips for working with your potential vendors.
On this weeks show, Jon talks about elements that a planner can document and verify to improve the quality of the conversation with their potential VA vendors.
Things like loading dock locations, ceiling heights and windows can have an effect on your event and your budget. So, knowing about them early can be vital to a successful event.
Here's a link to a pdf that was created with some of the basic information you can download it and take it along on your next site survey.
In this episode of the podcast we talk with one of the presenters who will be at the upcoming CMP Conclave in Baltimore.
Brandt Krueger, the owner of Event Technology Consulting is one of the "go to" speakers in the meetings industry on a variety of AV and technology topics. He's been published on numerous industry websites, spoken at events ranging from the recent MPI WEC in Atlantic City to last year's CMP Conclave in Reno (and dozens more). He also currently teaches classes via the Event Leadership Institute.
In this episode we preview his session set for Baltimore on Projection Mapping. The session will focus on creative uses of video mapping to create amazing effects that come at a reasonable cost compared to some of the multi-million dollar effects we've seen used by major companies like Disney. He'll provide some great resources and insights into how adding this technology to an event can provide a great return on the costs while creating an unforgettable audience experience.
Here are links to a couple resources that we discuss during the show:
Projection Mapping Central: http://projection-mapping.org/whatis/
Christie Digital: https://www.christiedigital.com/en-us/projection-mapping
Brandt Krueger's Website: http://www.brandtkrueger.com
Next week I'll be heading out to InfoComm in Las Vegas. I'll be looking around to sample the newest and most interesting technologies that are available.
It's a massive show, filling most of the Las Vegas Convention Center, so I plan to focus as much as I can on the practical items that will likely be available from vendors to use. Some of the cutting edge stuff takes a bit longer to filter down to the rental market. So it doesn't make a lot of sense to look at a bunch of cool toys that aren't available for rental yet or have a high cost that eliminates all but a small segment of the market.
As always, the focus is to find cost effective ideas that can fit into a planners strategic objectives without breaking the bank.
I'll plan to bring back a full report after the show.
In the meantime, have any of you seen any good and cost effective ideas from your AV vendors?
Please share them in the comments!
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..