AV Teams and Venues Face Labor Shortages
The pandemic continues to impact the event industry. We’re sharing real-time information on the current meeting industry landscape so you stay informed throughout your planning process.
At a Glance Planner Watch-Outs
Current through 2022
AV and hospitality industry labor shortages across the U.S.
- Vaccination requirements (employer or client)
- Competition for top labor
- Reduced number of AV or hospitality pros available
- Slow ramp-up of AV and hospitality industry rehiring and training that mirrors slow return to in-person events
- AV vendors either turning down jobs or accepting jobs but ultimately failing to execute
- Clients unable to book preferred AV teams or venues
- Venues unable to deliver on event contracts due to unfamiliarity with technical requirements and/or in-house AV staff issues
guides you through
what to know
Understand how the current meeting industry landscape affects AV needs
Right now, three overlapping factors make it more difficult for clients, AV pros, and venues to return to our pre-pandemic ways of holding events.
- Many clients now have an extended decision making process around whether to have an event at all — and if so, what type of event to hold.
- Many venues are coping with fluctuating client needs, along with concerns that a COVID-19 variant could cause another shutdown. This contributes to reduced staffing and can lead to demand outpacing hiring. When companies do hire, they rarely have access to their former employees.
- Many AV pros went to other industries or “followed the limited AV work” to different companies. In the AV world, this is a really big deal because most roles require a degree of technical knowledge. AV production companies are competing for talent as in-person events gain traction.
To back up a bit:
When the pandemic hit, the hospitality industry laid off the majority of their staff. This includes in-house AV teams. In Spring 2021, I was in a Vegas hotel that hosts conventions and they only had one AV person on staff due to the pandemic’s devastating impact. Now, more clients have started booking in-person events; in response, venues are starting to rehire cautiously, optimistic that work will be steady enough to support their employees.
Across the board, however, venue staff is made up of many new people who don’t know the property, don’t know the equipment, and haven’t done events there. Because the pre-pandemic flow of regular work has been interrupted, everything is being reinvented, re-remembered, and taught to new employees.
Venues aren’t the only industry segment facing labor issues. At Seamless, I faced the same tough decisions about laying off key AV personnel when we moved from large-scale in-person events to virtual — and then hybrid — events.
Because we travel across the nation to support our clients’ events, we have to supplement our team with on-the-ground AV pros. Currently, I’m both rebuilding my AV team and competing for AV talent at the “end locale” where a given event happens.
Confirm your AV team now, fine-tune your budget later
I want to underscore that the AV and hospitality labor market is tight. Here’s my key piece of advice: book your AV and venue as early as possible so you increase the odds of executing your event how, when, and where you want it.
Whether you send out RFPs or use a different selection approach, I recommend the same three steps to increase your ability to book top AV talent.
- Get preliminary quotes.
- Consult with your top AV provider picks if needed.
- Sign a contract with your AV partner — even if you haven’t fully fleshed out your event agenda or specific AV needs, and thus can’t get a precise quote. You should feel comfortable that your AV solutions provider cares about your event’s success and has a client-centric perspective. If you don’t think they’ll help you deliver the best experience your budget will allow, you may not be the right fit for each other.
Additionally, I suggest you go through your agenda with prospective AV providers, talking through what you expect to happen in each session, and mapping that back to the quote. For example: Do you have the equipment you need for a remote presenter to be seen and heard by an in-person audience?
“The labor market is tight. Book your AV and venue as early as possible so you increase the odds of executing your event how, when, and where you want it.”
— Laurel Miller, CEO Seamless Events
Let us know if you run into trouble
I’ll continue to provide updates on industry issues that affect meeting professionals. If you encounter difficulties with your venues or AV providers, contact us.. We can tap our network in hopes they can help you — or even partner with you ourselves!