Hiring for a Conference? 5 Differences Between Concert and Conference Planning
Published on: Tuesday, May 24, 2022 - 7:00am
Many people think that one AVL partner is the same as any other, and a company that can handle a concert can handle a conference.
But conferences aren’t concerts.
You need an AVL partner who understands the difference between conference planning and concert planning.
Oftentimes, there is a price difference between AVL providers that specialize in concerts compared to those who are conference-focused. Because conferences and concerts are such different animals, you can’t expect to receive the highest value for your project if you don’t choose a provider that has experience with your event.
As a consequence, if you choose a concert specialist for your conference, you’re going to run into problems. Your results will be much better with a company that specializes in conferences. Let’s talk about why.
5 Differences Between Conference Planning and Concert Planning
The differences between planning AVL for a concert and a conference might not be apparent at first, but they exist. And they make a big impact on the results of your event.
Below are some of the key differences between concerts and conferences that require specialized planning.
In a concert, the focus is mainly on the stage. And while the hope is that everyone would have a great experience, the reality is that the audience experience will vary. This is why concerts usually have tiered ticket pricing; the ticket price corresponds to the quality of the experience.
For example, if you pay to sit up front, you get a great-sounding show and an immersive experience. If you sit in the wings, you might have an awkward angle on the stage and a less stellar experience.
Conferences, however, are usually general admission. A conference isn’t about a performance; it’s about education. Video monitors allow attendees to see the speaker — and any important text — in the wings as easily as in the front.
In a conference, every seat needs to have the same experience. The person in the back row should be just as engaged with what’s happening as the person in the front row.
For concerts, the only group activity patrons typically attend is the show itself. Then everyone scatters to their various homes or hotels.
In a conference, amenities matter. Conferences can last multiple days, often at a single hotel where attendees join meetings, meet other conference-goers, and stay the night. They need to be comfortable. The main room needs appropriate acoustics for speaking (versus for performing). Seating will typically be flat instead of tiered. It’s a vastly different experience from a concert.
For example, a client of ours holds their conference in a hotel ballroom. Though they could easily sell more tickets, they prefer to stick with the hotel setting and limited seating to keep the experience intimate. Guests never have to leave the venue, and so as a result, they get more one-on-one time with each other and stay connected to the spirit of the event.
An AVL partner with conference expertise knows how to implement successful conference planning even in the choice and setup of a venue.
On a concert tour, AVL crews become very familiar with each other, everyone knows everyone’s roles, and communication is decentralized.
Conferences provide little time to get to know one another and often require more staff on the client’s side. With so many unfamiliar faces, organization is incredibly important.
For example, CTS always makes sure the client has a single point of contact for the AVL crew. This simplifies problem-solving for the client because they know exactly who to contact in any situation. It also ensures the client can communicate with the AVL crew without pulling anyone away from an important task at a critical moment.
Crews are typically more visible at conferences and work more closely with clients than they do at concerts. With this in mind, CTS hires appropriate crew members that are capable of interfacing with clients in close quarters. If you’re concerned about the visible integration of the crew during your conference, make sure to mention this to your team.
Pre-programming entails planning, staging, and testing gear. It can cover equipment layout, importing client files, setting up inputs and outputs, and just ensuring that everything is communicating and working together.
For concert tours, you have days of rehearsal and setup, so AVL companies do this on site. For conferences, you have no time to go in and stage equipment before the event. Hotels charge for every day, so conference specialists plan ahead and make sure everything comes off the truck as ready as possible.
In a conference, you only get one shot, so it needs to work the first time.
All the pre-programming involved in conference planning means more time and resources are required compared to concerts. As a result, conference budgets tend to be bigger. For ultimate value, choosing a provider that fulfills the vision of the conference may require a greater investment.
That’s not to say conference specialists — such as CTS — aren’t flexible and open to discussion when it comes to pricing. The client’s budgetary constraints are always top of mind, but it’s important to know beforehand that premium conference specialists may charge more than concert specialists.
Ask for Conference Planning
If you have a conference coming up, find out whether your potential AVL partner has experience in conference planning or concert planning. Choose a team that knows the ins and outs of conference production and that can tailor their service to match your event — not the other way around.