Event organisers have hit out at in-house technician fees, claiming that some hotels are adding charges that force clients to use their services.
While it is common practice for hotels to charge clients who use their technical equipment, Scene Change director Ian Whitworth revealed that some hotels are now charging customers who choose not to use their in-house technical consultants.
The charges are of no consequence to organisers who use in-house equipment as a rule, but with fees ranging from $1000 to around $7000, Whitworth said clients are effectively being forced to use the hotel’s services.
“The hotels are in essence penalising clients for not using their services. They are creating a barrier to entry with fees that force them to use the in-house contractor,” he said.
Whitworth added that the cost of in-house services was often inflated – in some cases by around 30% – which meant clients were forced to cough up extra cash whether they opted to use in-house services or not.
“It’s absolutely fine if hotels offer an AV service, but it has to compete with the rest of the industry on a level playing field. Inflating the cost of in-house services is anti-competitive behaviour that sets a dangerous precedent for the future,” he told The Nibbler.
Accor director of business and events Jenifer Dwyer-Slee denied that clients were being cornered into using in-house AV companies, noting that customers had the choice of working with their own suppliers at any time.
“Technicians are charged when the in-house equipment that the AV company provides in our hotels is then used by another company, but that is standard practice in the industry,” she said.
Whitworth admitted the extra charges were not universally implemented, but stressed that event organisers should contest mandatory technical fees where appropriate.
“We will see campaigns mounted about this in the future. In the meantime, customers need to be aware that they do have the power to challenge technical fine print in the contract,” he said.
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