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How to Choose Between In-House and Outside A/V Resources

In the events industry, there’s no shortage of audio, video, and lighting companies to choose from. One big decision event planners often struggle with is when to use a venue’s in-house A/V provider versus when to venture outside and hire a third-party resource.

As with anything, there are benefits and drawbacks to both options. Event planners need to understand what is most important to the success of the event: cost or creativity. Here are a few key things to consider:

In-House A/V Providers

In general, an in-house A/V team will have a deeper knowledge of the venue, seamless integration with the hotel, and direct communication with banquet and other hotel departments. The convenience alone makes an in-house A/V company an easy choice if your needs are fairly basic.

Pros:   § Office and equipment are onsite  § Able to waive costs on exclusive services such as power, rigging, or internet  § Rates or discounts can be negotiated with the hotel when you book, which can mean deeper A/V discounts  § The hotel likely has more flexibility in terms of move-in & move-out schedules   Cons:   § Clients who select a different location each year lose the continuity of working with an A/V company familiar with your program  § Generally less flexible with labor hours, pricing, and concessions  § Many services and technologies outside the norm of basic projectors/systems are outsourced  § Technician skill level not guaranteed

Outside A/V & Production Companies

Sometimes it’s worth additional cost to feel confident you’ll get exactly what you need for a high-profile event. Choosing an outside provider could add burdensome fees from the venue for such items as power, internet, and room rental—in some cases considerably raising the overall cost.

Hiring an outside A/V provider means that technicians can travel with a client year over year. This ongoing relationship allows for a deeper understanding of client needs, a team and on-site technicians dedicated to the event, and more emphasis on creative pre-production, getting you the look and feel you want.

On the financial side, outside companies don’t need to split their revenue with a hotel, so they tend to have more flexibility with their pricing. You’ll also find that they have easier access to a large assortment of higher quality equipment and technology.  

Pros:   § Tend to be more creative  § Access to the latest equipment and technology  § Teams are experienced in coordinating multiple events in multiple cities  § Last-minute additions are easy to manage  § More consistent pricing nationwide   Cons:   § Familiarity with the venue property may be lacking  § Additional travel costs (airfare, meals, hotel) for site inspections and event days  § Added hotel fees to make it cost prohibitive (power, liaison, internet, room rental, etc.)

Making a Decision

Choosing between the in-house A/V and an outside A/V or production company can be a tough choice, but one that ultimately should be considered during the site selection process. Consider the A/V requirements of your event and how they gel with your selected venue, and their contractual obligations with preferred A/V providers.


Want to learn more about how SHW can help design and manage your A/V needs? You can reach us at, or through our online RFP tool.