The budgeting process is probably the least favorite part of a meeting planner’s job, but it is an essential part of the job. Ironically, the more time and effort that is put into the planning phase, allows for less time spent on explaining budget overruns to your board and/or boss.

Here are seven tips for building a better AV budget from start to finish.


AV Budgeting Tips and Tricks


  1. Review your event history.
    Look at your actual audio visual costs and your post-event notes for the last three events of similar size. Did you have overruns? If so, why? Was all the equipment used? Is there new technology available to replace older, costlier equipment?
  2. Remember AV in Cleveland is not the same as NYC.
    If your meeting wants to go from a second- or third-tier city to a first-tier city or from a Midwest location to the east or west coast, there will be additional rental costs when you do so. Both demand and labor are higher; not to mention the cost of inflation. As long as your boss and/or committee knows this going in, your budget should be fine and should be upwardly adjusted.
  3. Identify all costs, but add some cushion.
    AV rentals may include delivery and handling fees, service charges and gratuities. When you are working with a new partner or reviewing RFP responses, be sure to ask for all the fees associated with your AV equipment rental up front.In addition, be sure to add 5% to your budget, for any unexpected charges you might encounter at the event. If you need to “sell” this to your boss, tell them you don’t plan on using it, but it is for insurance purposes only. Explain any unused portions will be returned to their budget immediately following the event.
  4. Ask for the sun, but settle for the moon.
    When negotiating, it is okay to ask for big discounts and concessions, however, be prepared for some push back from your AV supplier. Many new equipment choices are in high demand so your partner does not have to discount the rental fee as much. In addition, with the economy rebounding, AV companies are busier than ever.Bottom line: Don’t have unrealistic demands. You don’t work for free and you should not expect your vendor to do so either.
  5. Get everything in writing and constantly communicate.
    Most budget misalignments come from assumptions on the part of the planner and AV organization. It is vital to get all your AV needs in writing from the speakers to the exhibitors and everybody in between.Review the budget every two weeks via a short, standing conference call.
  6. Determine who is authorized for additional charges.
    When onsite, identify 1-2 individuals who can sign off on additional charges and make certain to convey that to your rental supplier via email and on the contract.
  7. When onsite, ask for a daily AV charges review.
    If your event is several days long, at the end of each day, spend 15-20 minutes reviewing your AV charges thus far. It is easier to contest a charge onsite than wait 10-15 days after you are back at the office to review line item charges.

SmartSource Rentals is Your AV Budget Partner

At SmartSource Rentals we take great pride in delivering technology solutions that give our clients peace of mind through the entire event while saving them money in the process.

We have the largest national footprint in the industry with 175 certified and trained technicians to support you. Give us a call at 800.955.5171 to learn more about our offerings or submit an online quote.