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8 Questions to Update Your AV RFP for 2021 and Beyond

Does the request for proposal you send to audiovisual providers assess their ability to shift to and work effectively in a virtual or hybrid format?

Everyone planning meetings and events today feels the uncertainty: What will the landscape be two months or a year from now? Will the meeting that starts out as an in-person event transition to a virtual or hybrid format?

With things up in the air, how can a meeting team write a request for proposal for audiovisual services that accounts for all possible contingencies?

Here are eight questions that can be added to your AV RFP to give you a better sense of how ready a potential partner is to work effectively in whatever format you choose.

What’s your virtual strategy?
Even if you are planning an in-person event, there’s no guarantee it won’t change to a virtual or hybrid format. It’s important to ask potential AV vendors if they can handle virtual production, how they approach virtual strategy and execution, and what experience they have in doing it.

What is your approach to content management?
No matter the format—virtual, hybrid, or in-person—content is critical. It’s important to understand how an AV vendor approaches content management, and how it works with mobile-tech companies. For example, in a session with a Q&A period, you’ll want both virtual and in-person attendees to be able to type questions into one user interface, which populates in the virtual platform.

How a vendor approaches pre-recorded content is also important in today’s meeting environment, so ask about strategy and recommendations around pre-recorded versus live content.

Do you have a sponsorship strategy?
One of the challenges today is ensuring that sponsors get value out of their investment and connect meaningfully with the audience through online platforms. Your AV/tech partner should have ideas and examples for how sponsors can achieve a quality experience—and a return on their investment. 

What technology tools do you have to improve the attendee experience?
Especially for in-person events, tools such as digital wayfinding, apps, and information kiosks can improve the attendee experience and help mitigate health risks by reducing the need for person-to-person interaction.

How do you serve as a strategic partner?  
AV vendors should be involved from the beginning of the planning process, especially given how quickly things can change and how dependent a meeting’s success can be on technology right now. Look for a company that expects to work with you as a partner, providing planning guidance, problem-solving, and execution know-how. 

How do you monitor the virtual portion of your meeting?
If there are both physical and virtual aspects to your event, you should have an on-site monitoring “station” where the team can oversee everything that’s happening on the virtual platform. Note that this may require bandwidth beyond what you would normally contract with a facility. 

How do you manage the hybrid process?
Some vendors prefer to set up a physical studio, while others set up a virtual monitoring station in the show management office. It’s important to understand a potential partner’s strategy in the event you hold a hybrid meeting, whether by choice or circumstance. For example, you should clarify whether the vendor can receive a large volume of bandwidth from the facility and control its distribution.

Can you provide a project-management timeline?
Ask about a project-management timeline that outlines roles, responsibilities, deliverables, and dates. This gives you a sense of how the vendor will work with you and if it has a solid process in place. 

These are just some of the questions that are important in today’s RFPs. (For a discussion of AV RFP basics, click here.) It’s important to keep re-evaluating what you’re asking potential vendors to ensure a seamless partnership and excellent attendee experience. The last thing anyone needs right now is more uncertainty.

Ryan Murphy is director of sales at Projection.

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