As Hospitality Professionals who have worked in the nation’s largest and most luxurious event locations, our team members have seen the hotel contracting phase’s inner workings firsthand.
That’s why we conducted an internal poll on ways to help our clients save money on hotel contracts before signing them. Contracts are filled with tons of legal jargon, fees, and clauses that benefit the hotel more than their clients. Especially when clients choose to utilize an outside AV provider instead of the in-house “option”.
It’s the same in all contracts. Without getting all details in writing, the hotel can (and will) add on fees at the end of your event for utilizing the AV company of your choice. Negotiating these extra charges out of the contract before signing can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Event and AV Professionals in the hospitality industry, like our team at Honest AV, have a wealth of experience negotiating hotel contracts. If the hotel is presenting hurdles or the cost seems too high, ask us here at Honest AV for help. We like to uncover solutions that will help our clients save money.
Make Sure These Are Written In or Taken Out of The Hotel Contract
Ensure your contract does not require you to pay for an in-house AV company technician to supervise the load-in and load-out process at your hotel. Our location partners would never attempt to gain extra revenue from an unneeded service in a perfect world. Still, in-house AV teams use this clause as leverage against meeting planners and their audio-visual competitors. This can cost a minimum of $500 if the fee is not removed during negotiations by your salesperson.
If the hotel is not a union-based location, they may ask that an in-hose technician to supervise the event from start to finish. This should not be a requirement, so make sure to address this point with your hotel sales representative during the contracting phase.
Ensure that power for your Main Session, Breakout Rooms, and all other function space is complimentary. If the hotel cannot provide complimentary power, it is within your rights to request a flat fee for all power during the program instead of charging on a per amperage or per-day basis.
Power needs can add up during an event, and with a flat fee as opposed to a per item/day charge, you can quickly and correctly estimate your final power total.
One of the most common clauses in the contract is the internet. Hotels will charge a premium for your internet usage if you don’t negotiate a flat fee before signing the contract.
Take note to ensure that your minimum requirements are written as well. Items such as minimum megabytes per second (Mbps) and maximum available bandwidth should be included specifically.
Be sure that the contract specifies your internet will be dedicated to your program and not shared with the entire hotel and Conference Center. That way, another group’s users won’t slow your event’s internet.
This is a HUGE one. When production companies suspend items such as speakers and lights from the hotel ceiling, the process is called “rigging”. Hotels typically use the in-house AV team for rigging needs, which causes this to be a huge revenue generator for the AV company. The best way to avoid rigging cost surprises is to negotiate a rigging rate inclusive of non-extreme hourly rates for the rigging labor team. BEWARE OF DOUBLE TIME HOURS ON WEEKENDS.
UNION SHADOW RATIO For UNION LABOR
This does not pertain to all areas of the country, but if the hotel you are potentially partnering with for your event is under a union contract, be sure to find the clause for “Union Shadow Labor Ratio”.
If the clause is present, a union shadow ratio of 2:1 (two union technicians per one outside AV company technician) will provide the best value. A ratio of 1:1 (one union technician per one outside AV company technician) will result in doubled labor cost.
This may not be changed in the contract, bit will help you mitigate surprises if you know about the ratio before signing with the property.
FEES FOR USING AN OUTSIDE AV COMPANY
Suppose you decide to utilize an outside production partner like Honest AV, or use an in-house company. In that case, it’s best to review the contract before making your decision and see how your choice will affect the bottom line and overall production value.