Industry Update
Opinion Article28 February 2019

There is No How-To Book for AV Services, But There is AVaStar

Your hotel’s AV Operations Manual isn’t missing – it doesn’t exist. A new ‘AV as a Service’ platform makes managing all AV technology — built-in, portable, background music, digital signage and even outside service vendors — a breeze

By Eric Bracht, Managing Director, AVaStar

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You're getting ready to open your hotel (or are just taking over at a property) and see that there are installed AV systems in your event spaces; there are projectors and screens and flat panel displays in various rooms and public areas. There are different sizes and types of speakers installed throughout the property, indoors and outside. There are control panels and connection plates and racks full of AV equipment. There are boxes containing portable AV gear, including wired and wireless microphones, cables, portable projectors and screens, lighting instruments, mixers and adapters. There's also digital signage displays and background music systems throughout the meeting and public spaces.

What's missing amongst all this "stuff" is an AV Operations Manual to tell staff - historically someone in the catering or events department - what to do with it all, and how to do it. Don't panic! There's a new support platform for hotels that easily manages a hotel's AV operations and it can digitally replace any "How to Provide AV Services" book if one existed, which it doesn't.

Called AVaStar, the new platform is based on an AV as a Service (AVaaS) model and supported by AV industry professionals with deep experience in the hospitality industry. Far more than just a software package, AVaStar is ideal for any property self-managing AV and looking for ways to enhance profits and the guest experience — especially new construction hotels. It is designed to support hotel personnel with little to no experience managing, monitoring and measuring key AV performance indicators while providing tools that an AV team will appreciate, such as revenue and cost accounting and tracking the required service and preventive maintenance. AVaStar enables hotels to provide self-operated AV services with confidence.

Whether you work in the executive office, sales, catering, event services, maintenance or IT, chances are high that you've asked yourself these questions:

  • Who decided that we need all this equipment?
  • What is it for? Where did it come from? How much did it cost?
  • What does all this stuff do and how does it work?
  • Who will train us on how to sell and operate it?
  • Was this equipment installed properly? Are we sure?
  • Can't someone else just manage this mess without taking the majority of the revenue?

While General Managers are always looking for ways to drive more revenues to the bottom line, AV Services is an area where money is often left on the table. That's a shame, because when properly run, AV can generate one of the highest profit margins in a hotel.

AVaStar is the only solution of its kind on the market, and it answers all a hotelier's questions about the property's event technologies plus it provides an actionable account of every piece of equipment in the hotel. Even before the hotel opens (in a new build scenario), the AVaStar team can ensure that all installed equipment is working properly. The team will train staff on how to use, manage, monitor and maintain the equipment, how to track expenses and measure revenues. This isn't a one-and-done service. Too often we hear about inadequate training from installation contractors by simply grabbing the first person they find and giving him or her a quick "how-it-works" tutorial, whether they were prepared for it or not. Since the contractors typically do not have hotel experience, they cannot provide guidance on how to use the systems to meet customer needs, ergo the "missing manual." The AVaStar platform is always available to support staff with resources, solutions and industry best practices.

The AVaStar platform monitors, manages and measures all AV Services provided with both built-in and portable equipment. That includes tracking:

  • When equipment was purchased, for how much, and from whom
  • If the equipment is under warranty, who holds the service contract, how often it has been repaired and by whom
  • How often equipment fails and what it cost to repair
  • Where equipment is stored and how often is it used
  • How much revenue each piece of equipment is generating
  • What the labor cost was for staff to manage the equipment and how much labor was paid to offsite providers to run more advanced systems that were rented as needed
  • How much it cost to rent advanced systems like rigging, Internet, or electric services
  • If the hotel can reduce its expenses if equipment is purchased vs. rented

Stop using sticky-notes, index cards, white boards, and excel spreadsheets to answer these questions. AVaStar exists to give operators an at-a-glance synopsis of each piece of equipment in micro detail, enabling sales, catering and operational staff to ensure equipment works each time, every time.

Additionally, the software can be configured to provide scripted sales guides for non-technical staff. Venue-specific service packages are created and customized to drive sales and eliminate errors and omissions in equipment orders. This decision-tree process prompts staff to ask specific questions based on service-oriented results, not pieces of equipment. Depending on the customers' answers, the sales person then moves on to the next question. It's an easy-to-use analytical tool that builds a billable package of AV technologies. It is designed to make hoteliers more efficient with their spending. It identifies top-line revenues and bottom-line costs quickly. And it helps ensure that all AV related costs are allocated properly, not falling into the "Banquet-Other" category by mistake.

While outsourcing to a third-party provider is one way to provide AV Services, it is not the right fit for everyone. Consolidation of these companies is beginning to monopolize the market, and self-managing AV can be a far more affordable and profitable alternative with AVaStar, especially in small to mid-sized properties with limited need for advanced services. Not only will this program help hoteliers to keep equipment and expenses in line but allows them to retain complete control of their guests' experience rather than relying on others.

So, stop looking for the missing AV Operations Manual; it's not lost - it never existed. Instead, there's AVaStar - a better, more comprehensive and profitable solution that will help hoteliers self-manage event technology services and deliver professional AV services with efficiency and confidence. And if you have questions, you won't be left stranded. Help is just a click or a phone call away.

Eric Bracht

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    About Electro-Media Design Ltd.

    Electro-Media Design Ltd. is an AudioVisual systems design and Acoustical consultation group with expertise in audio, video, control, and related presentation, entertainment, and communications technologies. The practice also includes AudioVisual Operational and Management consulting to address the entire AV systems lifecycle. As independent consultants over the last 25 years, EMD has provided consulting services for more than 800 projects globally, including: hotels, conference and convention centers, spas and resorts, government facilities, corporate board rooms, theaters and auditoria, schools and electronic classrooms, training and meeting rooms, courtrooms, places of worship, restaurants and nightclubs, sports facilities and venues, and command and control centers.

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