Deciphering the AV quote:

Deciphering and comparing quotes from AV suppliers is often the most confusing and frustrating of exercises. Why so long? Why all the technical jargon, and then very often, why can’t I have “per item” cost? And then of course, everyone’s favorite, why is one supplier cheaper than another?

In order to help understand at least some of the above, we have put together a short little handbook to highlight some of these issues…

The quote itself:

Most reputable AV companies work off an integrated quoting system. What this means, is that as the quote is done, the system is automatically doing a stock check against their inventory, and “booking” equipment against your job. In order to do this, all items required for the job need to be included in your quote for stock management purposes. Potential stock shortages are highlighted at this stage already, so in essence, planning starts the minute your quote is generated.

Line item quotes – The debate rages:

Many clients (respectfully) do not understand the technical intricacies involved from one piece of equipment to the next – and thankfully so – otherwise they wouldn’t need us! Very often, one item of equipment needs to co-exist with another in order to make them both work. Sounds bizarre (why not just make one thing) but the bespoke nature of the industry requires a large degree of flexibility – as not all events are the same. For example – client wants to watch a video they have produced on a big screen. As simple as that may seem, there are potentially 23 pieces of equipment required (not counting multiples of any particular piece) and four people.

Which one would you like to remove from the quote?

Believe it or not, the Category type quote does keep things simple.

Brands – not all things are equal:

The last thing you that need to find out in the middle of your event, is exactly why quote # 2 was so much cheaper. Equipment failure at the critical point! The major brands invest heavily in research and testing under actual working conditions in the industry and provide a level of reliability that cheap copies cannot match. Your AV supplier should be investing in exactly that reliability. While it’s not your job to know them all, ask questions of the suppliers. Most reputable AV companies quotes invariably list the brand of the item in the quote – because this is actually what they have, and will supply.

Generic lines like “Video Projector” as opposed to “Christie HD14K-M” should be ringing alarm bells. Often, this is to allow the supplier to charge for an as yet unspecified piece of equipment that loosely fits the purpose (but may not actually suit the job) or to bill you for a premium item but supply a lower quality. 

Again, you’re not expected to understand all the technical bits that go into your event, but you’ll certainly get a straight authoritative answer from the right supplier if you ask!

If you feel like doing your own homework on this, research the AV industry, and you will discover that the top brands are discussed in major industry publications for their successes.

What about the crew…?

Yes, what about the crew? Some of our best friends are crew! Clearly, there are different levels of crew. Some fresh out of college, some with years of experience. Each have their role to play and a different job description. You don’t want the box-pushers running your show, and conversely, you don’t want high-end AV techs pushing boxes and falling asleep during the show. The high-end guys demand a higher salary, and much like branded equipment, their true value comes from the successful implementation of your event.

Apples for Apples?

The industry’s favourite catchphrase. Comparing quotes apples for apples.There is however, a truth to it. Are the two suppliers quoting firstly against the same brief, what latitude will you allow for ‘creative interpretation” if there is any…?

There is a lot to consider here, firstly in terms of the AV company’s reputation for service and delivery. Years of successfully producing events does count for something in terms of reliability. Do the quotes compare in terms of brand? You may not be brand-conscious when it comes to your shoes, but there is merit in it when buying your next car!

There are many cheap options coming out of the East at the moment, and at Multi-Media, the brands we invest in, have a proven track record. Cheaper has a funny way of becoming more expensive in a crisis.

Lastly, when your trusted supplier sends you a budget, and a competitor offers you a budget (detailing all of the alarm signals mentioned above) – at one third of the cost, just whose quote should you be trusting?

A picture tells a thousand words… or so the saying goes… LED screens are proving more and more popular, but are they all the same?

Does 120 panels of one make equal the same size screen as 120 panels of another? Very often… not! Using an actual example, a cheaper quote turned out to be a 14m x 2.5m screen, compared to a 20m x 3m screen. Per square metre of screen, the cheaper quote was actually more expensive. The subject of cheaper Eastern imports is for another day.

At Multi-Media, we only supply high-end equipment to provide the best possible experience at your venue.

More than one way to skin a cat…

For a large area which needs sound, we may hang a line array sound system for the best result, but a competing budget may place multiple speakers around an area instead. There may be an obvious cost difference, but this may not be the best solution for your event.

Having said that, your budget may dictate as such, and an open an honest discussion about your budget goes a long way to solving potential issues and finding creative ways to achieve your objectives.

After 26 years in the business, Multi-Media is here to help, advise and offer solutions.

If at any stage, you feel you need some help to understand any budgets you have, or received from other suppliers, please feel free to contact us for a no-nonsense evaluation.