Planning an Event in New York City - (Learn about the tech union)
Destination - NYC
So you're thinking of having an event in New York City. Great choice! There's no city like New York City for it's diversity in not only people but activities, food and sites. New York City is comprised of 5 boroughs, The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Manhattan. One thing to note is that when New Yorkers refer to "The City" they are usually talking about Manhattan. There are about 8 million people jammed into this city, so you're sure to meet colorful ones, but don't get pulled into the notion that NYC is not safe. Of course there are some places, just like anywhere else, that'll you'll want to stay away from, but for the most part, most areas will be fine to travel to. Just do a little homework before you head out.
The Good, The Bad, The Union
With such a popular place, there's an ever increasing amount of hotels and venues, all vying to host your event. You should remember this when choosing a place and negotiating your in-house services. New York City is a fairly expensive place and audio visual services in New York City is no different. NYC is a heavily unionized city, so in most hotels and venues you will have to deal with them. Whether you choose to use the in-house AV or go with an audio visual company of your choice, the union will come into play. I'm not here to bash the union, in fact I understand and support their goal. Which is to protect the employee from employers who might want to take advantage, but I believe there's an inherent flaw. Those in this union are motivated by longevity not merit. So a person who's there longer will get first call to tech the event over someone who might be better skilled. Doesn't always promote a good success rate. There is also no motivation for self improvement as this doesn't factor in on continued employment. Again, for the technician to get put on an event, the only thing that matters is that they have more time employed than the other guy. Again not a good recipe for success. Having said this, there are plenty of good, qualified union techs out there that do a very good job and will provide you with the service you're looking for. The problem is, you're not guaranteed to get them. If you choose to use the in-house audio visual services, make sure to talk to the AV manager and venue about who your tech(s) will be and their particular skill set.
Outside AV Company
In most hotels or venues, if you choose to use an outside audio visual company, you'll still have to deal with the union. This will come in the form of "shadow labor." There's no way around this and will be an hourly charge for the in-house tech(s). Most places have a 2 to 1 ratio, meaning, for every 2 techs an outside AV company brings in you'll have to use 1 in-house tech. Rates can run from $120 - $140/hr, plus expect OT charges after 8hrs and some places charge OT for weekend and after-hours. These rates are true whether you go with the in-house AV or use an outside AV company.
NYC is unmatched in terms of what has to it offer, making it a great place to hold your event. Remember to talk early with the venue during the planning process about your options for audio visual services. The hotel/venue might ask for fees for bringing in outside AV but those can usually be negotiated out of the contract.