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Travel Day Rate

Travel Day Rate – The rate charged for travel time of technicians, usually equal to half their day rate. If Technicians travel and work on the same day they will be paid for a full day, unless they work over 5 hours in which case the rate will be both a travel day rate AND a day rate. Travel day rates do not include air fare or per-diems.

Don’t Be Line Item Wise… and Big Picture Foolish

We’re starting to see it a lot these days – clients need to cut their budgets.

So they pick line items out of their budget and start asking, “Can we cut this? Do we really need that?”

Ah, if only life were that simple.

An AV budget is (or at least SHOULD be) a lot more than just a bunch of lines with numbers. There’s the overall big picture to consider…making a budget

Gear, labor, facility regulations & charges, transportation, planning, and timing are all intertwined. Changes to one area of event production affect the others. You may think you’re saving money but you could end up paying more in the long run.

Some decide to go with inferior gear (or providers) when making a budget. For example, you may decide to use projectors that are not as bright in order to save a few bucks. But the end result is screens that look washed out that people have a hard time seeing, so all the money you spend on great cameras and switching gear is pointless. If you cut too much lighting then your cameras may look terrible. Going with a smaller or lesser quality sound system means people can’t hear as well, so what’s the point of having a great-looking set when the sound is inaudible? An AV company that is cheap but inefficient or unprepared may end up costing you a fortune in union labor and overtime.

So here’s my point: when making a budget you have to consider the big picture. That means getting event production priorities down to an understandable level. What is REALLY important for your event? That needs to be the starting point. making a budgetFor example, if you have big-name presenters at your event then audio is crucial. Start with a good sound system with good microphones and a good audio engineer. Then go on from there. How many people are attending and can they all see the stage? If it’s a big audience then you should have cameras and screens. Recording the event to edit later? Then quality video is a must. For each thing you add to the priority list you have to consider how that affects your budget in other areas. Oops, you decided on cameras and screens so that means you’ll need lighting. That also means rigging and possible facility charges. See how this goes? It can get expensive quickly.

It’s too easy for priorities to get lost in the chaos of AV budgets and event planning. Money starts getting thrown into areas that, in the long run, really aren’t that important. Or, worse yet, a knee-jerk reaction makes you cut something out of the budget, then you pay a fortune to add it back on site because it was more important than you thought. Believe me, it happens. A lot! There’s a saying in the AV business: in chaos there’s profit! Don’t get caught. Understand what your priorities are and be prepared. THEN, go to your AV provider and see where you can save.

Don’t Forget the Fire Marshal!

So… you’ve planned your event, your AV company has set up, the tables and chairs have been dropped. Then the fire marshal walks in and throws a monkey wrench into your whole program.

Believe it or not they actually do show up, and more often than you may realize. event planningThey are not interested in whether your set up looks great or not. They are interested in public safety. And, if they see fit, they can prevent your session from taking place.

But with a little due diligence you, as the event planner, can avoid this problem.


Make sure that all exits are clearly visible.

Depending on room size and seating capacity, the fire marshal may require that exits behind the stage and technical areas be accessible. A fire marshal may even require personnel stationed at exits to assist in the event of an emergency.

Aisle Ways

Aisle ways need to be clear and unobstructed.

Required widths of aisle will vary depending on crowd size and location of exits. Usually the facility will know what the fire marshal requires. Obtaining this information should be a priority on your event planning checklist.

Trip Hazards

You might think that trip hazards are things that are in the way of walkways or exits. But trip hazards can also be considered thing that COULD be in walkways.

Fire marshals may require chairs to be tied or fixed together, preventing them from being moved into areas where they would be in the way if there was an emergency. A good event coordinator will make sure everything is up to code beforehand. 

Believe It Or Not… The Fire Marshal Doesn’t Care How Great Your Set-Up Looks. His No. 1 Concern Is Public Safety… And If Isn’t Yours, He’ll Shut You Down.


A fire marshal may require that an AV equipment company provide proof that drapery and other scenic material have been fireproofed.

Most professional drapery will have a tag sewn in. But other custom-made scenery may be an issue if near lights or other heat sources.

Also, anything hung over people’s heads must have a safety wire that is steel.

Fog Machines & Fire Alarms

AV companies and lighting designers love to use fog machines and hazers because it makes the light beams visible (which is a great effect, by the way), but these devices wreak havoc on smoke detectors.

event planning checklistUsing fog machines must be approved in advance so that smoke alarms and fire detectors can be disabled.

But wait!

In order to do that at a fire marshal will usually requires that at least one person (sometimes more) be hired to stand guard and manually trip fire alarms in the event of a fire. This is usually the case ANY time smoke detectors are disabled, even for rehearsals and focusing lights.


Simply put, if you have any kind of fireworks in your event don’t mess around.

First, make sure the facility knows of your plans. Then, call the fire marshal at the very beginning of your event planning stages. Tell them everything you’re planning on doing and get their approval.

Also, make sure your AV company knows what you’re doing. Placement of pyrotechnics is also of major concern for the AV company since they can damage screens and other delicate AV equipment.

Get Your Measuring Tape

It amazes me still how often mistakes are made

over the amount of space audio visual equipment needs for proper set-up. Often we walk into rooms where chairs and tables go wall-to-wall and we’re expected to set up screens, projectors, lights, sound equipment, audio equipment, and technical positions where there’s very little space to put it all.

Just as you shouldn’t book a room without being sure you can seat enough people, you need to take into account how much space you need for audio visual support.

Probably the biggest thing that gets overlooked is ceiling height and obstacles such as chandeliers and ceiling coves. So let’s get our measuring tapes and do the math.

Measure Twice, Set Up Once: In the Midst of High-Tech Audio Visual Technology, Event Planners’ Most Important Tool Remains The Simple Measuring Tape

Let’s say you want a big screen for your event. We’ll be brave and say you want a 11’3″ X 20′ screen. The screen with its frame is 12′ tall. You want it a minimum of 4 feet off the ground (preferably more) and probably a drape over the top (which is another foot). So, in this scenario, you will need a room that is at least 17′ tall with no ceiling obstructions where you want your screens to go. Lighting rigs and speaker systems also have ceiling height requirements based on the type of systems.

Also overlooked is reasonable space for technical areas, such as places for mixing consoles (also known as Front-of-House), camera positions, video technical area (also known as Video Village), and backstage areas. Depending on the size of your event, these areas may need a little or a lot of space.

Then there’s the space that’s needed to operate the AV equipment. Take projectors and screens, for example. There is a minimum projection distance required for a projector to fill a screen, whether it’s front or rear projection. There’s no changing that, no matter how much space is needed for tables and chairs!

There are a lot of options for projector lenses, but, usually, projectors need– at minimum– a distance about 1.5 times the screen width to fill the screen (twice the width for most small and lower end projectors). That’s from the projector lens to the screen. So, if you’re planning on a 10-foot wide screen, the projector has to sit 15 feet away; plus a couple of feet for the size of the projector.

Items such as speaker stands and ground-supported lighting towers will also take up significant floor space.

So, plan for some head-room (no pun intended). Your AV provider will be able to tell you how much space will be needed. As always, don’t just rely on the venue to tell you how much space you need, they are sometimes wrong. And, once the room is booked, your options become fewer and– perhaps– more expensive.

You are the event planner or event coordinator. So don’t forget your measuring tape!
measuring tape 2


Breaks – Most labor companies and unions have mandatory breaks such as meal breaks and 15 minute breaks. Break requirements vary by company and union, but generally laborers must be given at least a 15-minute break after every 2 hours of work and a 1-hour meal break after no more than 5 hours. Any time a laborer works past a required break will usually be charged at overtime rates until they get their break.

Day Rate for Labor

Day Rate for Labor – A full day pay for technicians, not including overtime. Technicians who travel are usually paid for a full day every day that are away from home. Day rates vary per company and technical position and are usually for a 10 hour day, after which overtime rates apply. Many companies are now going to an 8-hour day before overtime and many will charge overtime rates for any time worked between midnight and 6:00am regardless of how many hours a technician has worked up to that point.