Since when did ‘dry hire’ cost more?

It’s common knowledge that ‘dry hire’** venues can cost you more money. The current trend is charging commission on AV equipment that is brought in externally, which can be absolutely crippling to your budget. That is, if you want to use your own preferred supplier, however this is not the case for us, because we have everything in-house. It also applies for those who have their own suppliers that they like to use for AV and production. It doesn’t seem fair, does it?

Venues advertise their fantastic, all-singing, all-dancing equipment – which can be promoted to reduce your cost and take the pressure off. Although, you can be left waiting to hear what the price will be up-front, it is normally due to them still seeking a cost because they source externally. Clients normally fall in love with the venue and then, SURPRISE, that’s ‘another £10k please’ to cover their external supplier fees, which then turns them off. I’m not speaking on behalf of all venues and we must remember this is only from my own experiences.

We’ve had occasions when the venue’s in-house equipment we have attempted to use had blurry screens, poor lighting, and the sound not the greatest, making it hard to hear the speakers. This has an impact on the event and the delegates’ experience, and can cause disengagement.

The situation can escalate further with: what happens if you need more microphones than the one wired microphone that’s on offer?

What happens if you don’t want to put the screen where the in-house screen and projector are situated?


It can limit flexibility and, in some cases, the venue isn’t putting the needs of the event first, they are just trying to shoe-horn the equipment they have into the event to increase their income.  This prevents AV companies from providing charges for the actual solution that will meet the client brief and needs.

But some venues get it spot on – they can stand with confidence and pride that they have their own kit onsite that is tested prior to the event; ensuring that the event runs smoothly is the key objective for us all. But then we have the other side where we provide the kit, yet we have to give the venue 12% commission on our own equipment, yet we’re bringing the client to them???

Another wonderful trick is to charge us a fee to remove their equipment onsite that is already in place but, guess what, if you actually want to use it you are still going to get charged.


Then, the irony, another £1000 + VAT compulsory technician charge per day, just to oversee us using our own equipment while the venue’s technician sits back and drinks cups of tea – hopefully sharing the biscuits.

In addition, the compulsory in-house technician that you pay for, on the basis that they are familiar with the in-house equipment, is sometimes just a freelancer who is new to the equipment.

We understand having to pay commission on historical venues as this protects the infrastructure and history of the building but it’s a little frustrating when you are using modern, up-to-date venues and, at times, your own technicians are more experienced than those in the venue.

We are also seeing an exploitation of the new CDM regulations, where venues are charging for additional services, or using the H&S policies to add on additional costs.

A lot of fellow venue finders shall feel the frustrations I discuss, but this isn’t true of all venues. Although at times it can feel like an endless battle, we really are just trying to get it right for our clients. The above comments are based entirely on my own experiences!

** ‘Dry hire’ means that rooms or venues are provided without any extra features – you book the venue, minus the catering, bar team and stock, transport, installation or entertainment.

Emma Jones – venuepot


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