3 Aug 2012

TOD fees – inhouse AV company detail a fair approach

As a supplier with the largest number of in house venues in Canberra, we could not agree more that many in house suppliers practices in regards to TOD fees are far from what we would deem fair. We on the other hand have a VERY different approach. If an outside provider is coming into any of our venues, we only provide a TOD under the following structure:

1 – If that provider is hiring any of the installed equipment or infrastructure from us.
2 – Requires technical services, such as patching between rooms, data patching etc.

Under this structure, we either charge a token charge of two hours total for a meet and greet at the bump in and then again at the bump out for simple requirements or the most we have ever had to charge for is a 3 hour call for the bump in and then the same again for the bump out.

If the outside provider is not using any in house equipment and or infrastructure, we do not provide a tech at all and charge nothing !

The only venue we are bound to provide a TOD for the entire duration of an outside provider being on site is within Parliament House. This is due to the security, as all contractors that are not approved suppliers do not have a security pass and must be escorted while in the building, and also the uniqueness of the building and facilities require a certain level of training and knowledge. In this venue, we are also charged with the duty of supervising the building fabric with regards to visiting contractors, which includes many priceless and irreplaceable items.

We too have experienced what has recently been published on this topic in CX. Earlier this year we were providing services for a high profile event in a high profile Melbourne Hotel venue which also included national broadcast coverage. The only in house equipment we were using was a few pre rigged lighting fixtures and some house dimming and patching facilities. We were on site for almost 3 days and charged for a TOD for every hour of bump in, set up, show, pack down and bump out. Our client reluctantly wore this cost as we provide to this event on a yearly basis where ever it is held in Australia and they will not use anyone else for it. Our client certainly voiced their dismay at the cost for this but said what choice do we have. In this instance when we questioned it with the venue, we were told it was the in house suppliers policy, when we questioned it with the in house supplier, we were told it was the venues policy ! I guess the joint policy is passing the buck so that they could continue the rought ! In this instance, the service from the in house provider was also extremely poor and to be quite frank, we found it to be shying on them being as prohibitive as they could to an outside provider. We conducted a site visit prior to the event with the OB director, on this visit, everything was possible, yes we can patch between those rooms, yes we can do that for you, no problems……………….when we were bumping in, all of a sudden, none of this was actually possible. Fortunately, we were not so trusting, so we packed contingencies for all of this. We find this really poor form, particularly when the Australian industry is so well regarded around the world for pitching in and getting the job done, the show must go on, no matter what, well in some cases anyway. But is this culture disappearing from the industry ? We believe you can provide this culture while still maintaining good business practices and protecting your business interests at the same time.

I can proudly say, we do not follow these practises, of the small few outside providers that come into our venues, we are here to help any way we can to provide a good end result to the client in the venue. We look at it like this, if we don’t, it only makes the venue look bad. Our recent Melbourne experience is testimony to this, our client has said they will never go there again, but have already confirmed the event with us again for next year.

Our other gripe in this regard is when you are paying for a TOD and they just sit in the corner and do nothing. We look at it like this, if you are paying anything from $60-$90 per hour for a “ Tech on Duty”, they should be exactly that, a tech on duty, so they should assist where ever required with the bump in or out, if nothing else, they should be an extremely expensive casual crew person. Our culture is exactly that, if we provide a TOD and they can, they will always pitch in and help the outside contractor where ever they can.

Darren Russell

Managing Director, Elite Sound and Lighting ACT


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