Creating Value Through Partnerships
Live events can be a stressful environment. In fact, “event coordinator” often ranks among the most stressful jobs in America. Deadlines, personalities, travel, and the unknown. These all play a role in making live events a challenging place to earn a living. Knowing that there are no do-overs and you have just one chance to get it right means getting smart about the variables you do have control over.
From food to florists, venues to VIP handlers, and packages to production. There are many elements of live events that change each time. That said, building preferred partnerships can offer a degree of consistency and eliminate some stress from the planning process. Working off past experiences and expectations, they are able to enhance the on-site experience for planners and audiences alike.
Service partners across a variety of functions (venues, third-party planners, caterers, AV) bring a vast array of benefits to event planners. While some benefits of partnership are intangible, others are tangible and measurable – including the impact on the budget’s bottom line.
Let’s examine how an audio/visual service provider or production partner can maximize your event’s impact, minimize stress, and save you money.
Advance Planning Support
Often production suppliers are brought into the planning process too late to make a significant difference. However, seasoned planners know that involving the production team in advance can be a smart move that pays back. A production supplier can be a huge asset in areas such as venue search, setting expectations, and agenda development.
- Venue Sourcing – Getting multiple spaces diagramed for seating charts, comparing behind-the-scenes venue details like union involvement, available staging and equipment, power and internet pricing are all ways a production partner can make a real impact to venue choice. Even reviewing the draft contract with your production team (before signing) can identify potential pitfalls that may impact costs. From their vast past experiences, they can also help uncover terms that are not in your favor.
- Agenda Development – Production input on agendas can smooth transitions between presenters and panels. They can also inform the best use of equipment for maximum effect and savings and seamlessly integrate special features such as video or web conferencing.
Reliable delivery is the backbone of any partnership. You want to know your production team can get the expected job done well. A consistent partner learns the idiosyncrasies of your organization and can understand your way of working. They can be prepared for inherent shortcomings that may be beyond your control, such as content and presentation management challenges. A partner wants this current meeting or event to go well and to seek continuous improvement ideas for next time. Your feedback matters to your production partner.
Partners want to get things right and make issues easier to manage. If there is something unavoidable that didn’t go as expected, they help plan for contingencies next time around.
Clear communication is a must with detailed planning and that takes time. Choosing a partner that you enjoy communicating with goes a long way in making the planning and production process fun. Otherwise, it can very quickly feel like a chore. Sharing the vision for the event, an understanding of the audiences’ pre and post-experience, and knowing the tools required to make it all happen can make the long hours an enjoyable, creative process. You also save time by having a shared work experience that you can draw from, replicate, build on and improve.
You develop your own standard operating procedures while learning what works best together over time.
Production partners who have a sense of an organization know what works for the group and their larger goals. They know when to challenge the status quo constructively and bring about innovation through new technical elements or presentation forms. The production team does not overuse technology for the sake of it. They do, however, select technology that helps keep your events feeling fresh and elevates the event to the next level. They make smart use of new tools that communicate your meeting message effectively.
A good production company knows its industry. They keep track of the newest audience response tools, digital innovations, and technology trends- something that may be nearly impossible for an event planner.
A great production team becomes a welcome sight for executives and frequent presenters. They want their spoken and visual messages communicated smoothly and they know the production team can do it. A true production partner who marries technical skills with customer service makes not only the planning team feel more confident, but also the presenters themselves. They know what questions should be directed your way and can keep you well informed when you’re focused on other details. In these situations, a preferred production partner offers comfort, security and efficiency supporting your role as the organizer.
A great production team can act as an extension of your staff.
Through knowing the equipment and consistent service quality levels needed for your events, your production supplier can make intelligent decisions that keep the event personality intact and the bottom line as low as it can be. There is a wide scale of pricing in the production industry. Working with someone you trust when considering factors of quality, function, location, and travel is essential.
Partner AV companies also tend to lay out more detailed budgets in the planning stages. Whereas on-site firms may not include necessary elements such as power, security, or internet fees within your quote (unless you’ve directly specified it in your RFP). Inclusions and exclusions of these necessary items can make budgets look falsely high (or low) in competitive quote situations. Ensure your comparisons are apples to apples before making a decision based on price alone. Additionally, preferred partners are often able to work with you if you have a specific budget challenge or concern because they have insight into your big picture.
Partners are not interested in nickels and dimes. They take a long view approach which can be more impactful than a line item discount.
Production cost avoidance in meetings and events should not be underestimated – it can often have a larger impact on a total budget than a traditional discount. Enabling a production team to truly partner with you through pre-event planning, onsite, and post-event follow ups can save large percentages of your overall budget. From venue selection to onsite staffing there are dozens of decisions that can avoid unnecessary spend without sacrificing the overall impact of your program. In this manner, long range production quality and partnership can prevail over appealing one-off discounts.
A partner production team will happily work with you to show cost avoidance figures in large and small categories plus help you tell that story within your organization.
Partners Create Value Over Time
While you’ll never be able to control all of the variables that make live events stressful, having reliable professional partners gives you a head start every time. Partners who save money, deliver superior service, and make the planning process enjoyable are true assets in live events. And like any solid asset, the value of partnership continues to increase over time.
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