A-V: the Underappreciated Profit Center, Part I

Are you losing huge profit opportunities in meetings audio-visual and technology sales? Here are four questions for your consideration. We’ll look at two of these this week, and two others soon as well.

  1. How is your audio-visual offering described on your web site?
  2. Do you have a marketing plan for selling audio-visual equipment?
  3. How do these offerings set you apart from your competitors?
  4. How important is audio-visual to your F&B profit picture?

Underappreciated Profit CenterI’m thinking that audio-visual equipment rental is something that gets little attention from most F&B Directors, at least until the projector light bulb burns out in the middle of a meeting and the A-V tech can’t be found.

So, let’s drill down a little on these four questions.

ONE. Look at your web site – does A-V get its “fair share”?

Most of the hotel web sites I’ve looked at have descriptions that fall into one of three categories:

  1. A generic description of offerings and services, sometimes with a couple of examples. This is akin to having a restaurant’s web presence limited to a statement about how wonderful your food is, you’re sure to enjoy it, etc.
  2. A list of items. Often these lists are outdated – I’ve seen lists with 35mm slide projectors and laser disc players. Thinking about your restaurant again, would you put a simple list on your web site in lieu of a menu? “We have: hamburgers, steaks, salads, chicken, breakfast, soft drinks, desserts, wine, beer & cocktails”.
  3. A link to a third party. Many of the third party A-V (and other technology) companies have a very impressive array of equipment and offerings. Sharing this information with meeting planners is certainly appropriate. But wouldn’t you like share the information in the context of your hotel’s services? When I go to a site and (eventually) find the audio-visual information, if I just see a link, what I really get is the feeling that “hey, we’re busy, go bother the A-V company, but don’t worry we’ll talk again when it’s time to give you the bill”.

Audio Visual EquipmentWhy do we under-represent A-V? Your restaurant representation almost certainly has pictures, detailed information, menus with prices, and special offerings, perhaps even its own web site. I recommend that you create a Technology Menu and treat it like you would a restaurant menu.

Work with your A-V vendor: teach them how to employ menu engineering techniques. Use graphics. Add value. Create packages. Highlight “specials”. Suggest add-ons. Suggest upgrades. You get the idea.

TWO. Marketing plans

For audio-visual? I can hear this now, “That’s not my job, we have ________ company for that.” Yes, you have partnered with a third party. But a significant part of the sales will come directly back to you.

Do they have a marketing plan? Are you satisfied with it? Have you seen their menu of offerings, and does it meet with your expectation? Have you “secret shopped” their sales representative to ensure that both courtesy and selling efforts are at optimal levels?

Next week we’ll look at questions 3 & 4, and I’ll point you toward some Best Practices in A-V and technology.

Those are my thoughts, let me know yours.