Every meeting planner knows that even the most dynamic, impactful and talked-about meetings in a planner’s career can hardly be considered successes if they went massively over budget. Since A/V plays such a large role, planners should seek to work closely with their A/V supplier to make sure a rational technology budget is in place.

NJM+E: When it comes to event planning, what are some of the best practices for optimizing your technology budget?
AT: No. 1, involve the A/V technology suppliers as early as possible. Proactively bring the A/V vendor(s) into the initial discussions, because their involvement while developing the meeting’s business goals and objectives will allow the planners to match the event’s objectives with the technology requirements. No. 2 is budget for value, not costs. The value equation in the event A/V profession is service + price = value. Simply seeking the lowest pricing can end up in disaster if the service is defi- cient (i.e. audio isn’t clear, equipment issues not fixed rapidly, etc.).

NJM+E: How can a planner make sure the A/V vendor doesn’t overcharge?
AT: By leaving out the assumptions and “facts unknown” in a meeting plan. The more facts and details acquired by the planner (and shared with the A/V vendors) the easier it will be for them to fine-tune the estimate by avoiding caveats (when possible) and developing the best possible set of costs.

NJM+E: Can meeting and event pros still effectively negotiate on budget with A/V vendors when they’re so closely involved in the planning process?
AT: Yes, absolutely, however it’s important to pick the right TIME to negotiate, which is AFTER you’ve developed a compre- hensive list of the needed equipment and personnel. Once completed, planners can then request quotes from multiple A/V vendors, then compare them against each other ... and negotiate discounts on equip- ment. The better quality A/V vendors are going to be competitive, and they want to win your business.

Andrew Taffin is co-founder and CEO of Iselin-based Tallen Technology Rentals. A regular speaker at industry conferences, he is also a founding member and former president of the International Technology Rental Association (ITRA). 

It was an ad that inked the deal for Kelley Thwaite, co-owner of KM Event Productions, a full-service boutique event management company in south Jersey. “I answered an ad in the newspaper for a job at a small association management company,” she says. The company was indeed small, as Thwaite worked for the husband-and-wife team out of their basement. She learned a lot about the industry, though, and it’s where she’s spent the last two decades building a name for herself. 

 

Stage Left Restaurant in New Brunswick is gearing up to celebrate their 25th anniversary. On top of that, the contemporary American steakhouse, owned by Francis Schott and Mark Pascal, recently underwent a renovation. The owners hired Alfano Renovations of Union County, N.J., and Dublin, Ireland-based Restless Design for a $200K-plus+ remodel of the dining rooms and bar. So what’s changed? New banquettes excude a clubby, yet comfy feel in the bar area (which is still centered by its 1930s vintage bar).

 

MPI New Jersey Chapter held an energetic networking event on Nov. 29 at Bowlmor Lanes Green Brook. There was plenty of fun, a few gutter balls and lots of networking. Some of the groups that came together even sported team shirts for a little fun competition.