As a professional in the Audio/Visual Services industry, I believe we have an obligation to give the best recommendations possible to our clients. Especially when they may not understand the value of certain new technologies. That’s just good Customer Service. Specifically, I believe we can all do a better job moving events to start consistently using Digital and High-Definition (HD) audio and video equipment. We have to be the shepherds to move this forward.
We may even have to be prepared to bear some of the cost burden as this transition happens. I might not always be able to charge for HD equipment when a client has always budgeted for analog equipment. It may take some time to educate them, and have them bring their budgets in line with the technology. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m in it for the long haul. I’m into building relationships.
Why’s it important?
Event attendees are already familiar with HD. Many of them have home theaters with surround sound audio systems and HD televisions. And when they go to the movies, they’re watching HD, digital images with outstanding sound. How happy do you think they are going to be when they see grainy images at an event? Or colors that are muddy or just not displaying properly? Or tinny sound? When the attendees walk onto the trade show floor, the vendors are all showing their products and services in HD, with Surround Sound. It’s our job as professionals in the industry to better align these experiences – to make recommendations on how to bring the most outstanding representation of their message to their attendees. The meeting planner or association executive may not even know what to ask for to have great visuals and sound. That’s where we come in.
- A physician is showing photos or video of a medical procedure. Color, clarity, contrast and brightness all have to be working properly for him/her to communicate their messages. Sometimes slight differences in the color of skin or an organ can be the difference between a healthy organ and a diseased one.
- A CEO is showing charts and graphs of Company profits and performance. If the shareholders in the audience can’t distinguish the colors on the pie chart, the profit/loss message could be very confusing or wrong.
- A Marketing Executive is rolling out a new corporate brand – new logos, colors, images. It’s critical that the new designs properly communicate the message and company’s new brand.
How did we get here?
For those of us who have been around long enough, we remember “pre-PowerPoint”, when presentations were done with a bank of slide projectors, shooting light through Kodachrome slides. It was pretty easy to get vivid colors then, since the technology was pretty simple. Then programs like PowerPoint and Keynote came along, and were being created on computers and laptops. But getting those exact images on the screen was tough. We were at the mercy of certain types of cables and connections, with analog signals pumped through projectors. This meant limited capabilities to properly translate what was coming out of the computer and onto the screen. Plus, users and well-meaning A/V techs were expected to make adjustments on the spot, to try to create images on the screen that were close to what was on the laptop. And not always successfully. You know the similar path of pumping out good sound. Basic cables and plugs going into mediocre (by today’s standards) speakers meant poor sound quality.
But now we have no excuse. Beautiful, high-definition original source materials are being brought to us, and we have the ability to use the proper cables and HD equipment to bring outstanding sights and sound to the audience.
So why don’t we?
- Maybe we still have some old analog equipment we’re trying to pay off and haven’t made the leap to digital yet.
- Maybe our clients are “old-school” and haven’t expanded their budgets to accommodate the cost for better equipment.
As an industry, we have to all get on the same page. HD and Digital have to be the new standards. Movie theatres figured this out, not without a lot of cost and pain, I’m sure. Any movie theatre today that isn’t projecting digital will quickly lose customers and, ultimately, won’t even find non-digital movies to show. Associations and meeting planners are always looking for ways to build attendance. Meetings with top quality sound and visuals will continue to attract new attendees, and bring last year’s satisfied attendees back next year.
We have to get past this hurdle, so we can look to the future:
- Cables that are using Fiber, for the best quality
- 3-D, as the technology matures, will be huge, especially in the Medical community
- Holograms – it’s not just science fiction any more.
- Live Streaming of events. This is starting to happen now. Are you trying it out?
Here’s what I suggest:
Let’s all work together and drive top quality audio and video for our clients. That’s just delivering Outstanding Customer Service. And I believe there IS a Return on Investment (ROI) to this strategy. Both for you and for your clients. I believe it will enhance your client’s brand, bring more attendees and better communicate their messages. That results in better training and more engaged attendees/employees.
And you’ll become known as a thought-leader, aware of the latest and greatest technology, delivering an outstanding product, so your client looks good! That will help you continue to build great relationships with your clients, and have them calling you back, year after year. And that’s the bottom line, right?
What do you think?
So, this is my perspective. Do you agree? Are my expectations too high? Am I being unrealistic? I’d love to hear your comments.