The demand for in-person meetings and events has skyrocketed. Having been locked down for a year or more, everyone is feeling the need to connect face-to-face.
As event planners, we still need to be aware that we’re planning on shaky ground. And by that I mean, no one knows how the rest of the pandemic will play out. Will the country be open for the next few weeks but start to shut down again right before your meeting? What will the landscape look like three months from now? 6months? Will your meeting, that you hoped would be in-person, suddenly need to shift to a virtual or hybrid event?
Because things are still uncertain right now, it’s crucial for event planners to always have contingency plans. It’s equally crucial that you ensure all vendors and partners, including your AV partner, also have contingency plans. To know this for certain, you’ll have to add in some questions to your AV RFP so you can recognize which vendors can work effectively, no matter what format you end up having to go with.
Critical AV RFP Questions for Your Next Corporate Event
- Can you handle a virtual production?
Just because you plan for an in-person event and pray to the In-Person Gods to allow it to move forward, doesn’t mean they’ll answer your prayer. The first thing you’ll need to ask all prospective vendors is if they can even handle virtual production. Ask them to explain their approach and strategies and how much experience they have with virtual events.
- What tech tools do they use to help you stay compliant with health regulations?
Let’s say those In-Person Gods hear your prayer and your event is allowed to move forward as planned. Does the AV partner have any tech tools (like digital wayfinding, information kiosks and apps) that can help you mitigate health risks by reducing the need for person-to-person interaction? These tools will also come in handy should your event have to pivot to a hybrid one.
- How do they handle content management?
Your content is the star of the show, so no matter the format – in-person, virtual or hybrid – it’s imperative to know how an AV vendor handles content management. As an example, should you have a Q&A session, you’ll no doubt want all of your attendees, whether they’re in-person or virtual, to be able to type questions into one user interface on the virtual platform.
You’ll also want to ask how the vendor approaches pre-recorded material. Ask about their strategies for handling pre-recorded as well as live content.
- Bandwidth. And more bandwidth.
If hosting a hybrid or virtual event, you’ll need to rely on an on-site monitoring “station” where your team will oversee everything that is taking place on the virtual platform. This will most likely require more bandwidth than you would normally need for an in-person event or than you would contract with a facility. So be sure the vendor can help you in this department.
- Will they be a partner and not just a vendor?
Ideally you want your Av vendor to partner with you and be part of the planning process from the very beginning. Because mandates, and your plans, may change very quickly, having your vendor on board from the start and offering guidance and problem-solving will be invaluable.
6. Can they help you attract sponsors?
One of the biggest challenges event planners face these days is attracting top sponsors to their virtual events. To do so, you need to be able to assure sponsors they’ll be able to connect meaningfully with attendees through your virtual platform. A good AV partner should be able to pitch you ideas on how your sponsors can get the most bang for their buck.
- Can they give you a project management timeline?
Event planners enjoy anything that makes their life easier, because Lord knows we have enough tasks on our list. Something that will help you is if your AV partner provides you with a management timeline that outline roles, responsibilities, deliverables, and dates. Having this roadmap will help you to know exactly how the vendor will work with you and what you can expect along the way.
These are some questions we feel should be asked of prospective AV vendors in the coming days, weeks and months. Be sure to evaluate your RFP and make any necessary adjustments that will help you further in finding seamless partnerships that lead to incredible attendee experiences.
And if you’d rather just hand over this entire process to someone else, give us a shout. We help our clients with all aspects of planning and executing their in-person, virtual and hybrid events.
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J.Shay Team is the generic alias for our event staff that want to submit work anonymously.