This is a dilemma just about every planner face. Almost every hotel and many independent venues write in their contract that you must use their in-house AV Company.
But, in fact do you have to? Obviously, when you are in the contract stage with a hotel or independent venue, your selection is based on so many things that make that property special. Things like location, sleeping room types, meeting rooms, amenities and of course the price. AV, although very important is not necessarily the major criteria in venue selection.
Before signing a venue contract, cross out the paragraphs(s) that state that you must use their AV company or be subject to über fees. Even if you have no idea if you want to use an outside company or not, it’s safer to do this in the first place so you can leave your options open. If the venue tells you that you must use the in-house AV you can let them know, if you wish, that would be a deal breaker. In most cases, they will relent.
As you begin to develop your program you might, at that time, reach out to the in-house AV and your favorite or a recommended independent company as well. Then, after evaluating which company or companies meet your needs and budget you might end up with a combination. In –house for one thing and independent for another. That could end up being a very good solution as you are now in control of your AV and keeping in house AV involved at the same time.