The Skinny on In-House vs. Outside Vendors


As a meeting planner, it may seem like a logical and easy choice to go with the in-house AV provider. After all, your convention center contact or hotel sales staff have confidence in their ability to pull off your event, why shouldn’t you?

However, there may be some “gotchas” when it comes to dealing with the preferred in-house providers and, whether you are planning the first company conference or the hundredth, knowing the true facts and options will help you to have a more complete picture about the best option for your event.


7 Key Questions You Need Answered

  1. Am I allowed to bring outside Audio Visual equipment into the venue?

    While the sales staff at the venue may say no, the true answer is yes. The key to avoiding any misunderstanding and ancillary charges is to read the venue contract and red line the part about using their in-house provider exclusively.The venue staff may state that they need to charge you for loading and unloading the equipment and make it a requirement that their people move the equipment to its proper location, but unless they are a union shop, chances are these charges can be dropped or heavily discounted.
  2. Is there a commission paid to the venue?

    It is estimated that in-house suppliers pay between 50-55% of their revenue to the venue in commissions.Outside vendors pay nothing to the venue.
  3. What about a service charge?

    It is estimated that up to 24% of the total order can have a service charge tacked on to the end with in-house providers. Which means on the surface, an in-house provider may beat the price of an outside vendor but when all charges are totaled up, the in-house provider may be more expensive.

There is no service charge with an outside provider.

  1. What type of equipment and accessories do you have to offer?An in-house provider usually has a limited repertoire of equipment, which may or may not meet your event       needs.A national outside provider can be more creative and offer the latest and greatest in hardware technology. If they don’t have it in their local office, they can obtain the equipment from another location nearby.
  1. Will there be an AV team dedicated to my event?

    The in-house provider is dedicated to serve,equally, all the events at the hotel or convention center. So if there are six events and two technicians, they can be spread thin.An outside vendor can have one or more individuals dedicated to your event only. You will have one point of contact and have immediate turnaround for any problems or last-minute equipment changes.
  1. What is your technicians’ experience and educational level?

    Depending on the venue, the AV team’s experience can vary all over the map.Most national outsourcing firms have standards for experience levels and hire almost exclusively certified technicians.
  2. Will back up units (such as laptops, LCD projectors and iPad rentals) and supplies be available if something goes wrong?

    The last thing you want is the laptop rental connected to the projector to die and leave you with no presentation options, because all the other equipment on-site is in use.An outside provider will usually have spare equipment and supplies in their truck or at the venue. Worst case, they can call the local office and have it onsite within minutes of the call.

Outsource Your Next Event with SmartSource

SmartSource Rentals is your outsourcing specialist with trained, professionally certified staff plus the breadth and depth of state-of-the-art equipment that is ready to meet your event needs.

We give you the best value and flexibility for your AV investment. Give our experts a call at 800.888.8686 to learn more about the ways we can help you!