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Mice Net : June 2009
news up ın arms BrisBane aV suppliers STORY BY Brad Foster AV suppliers to the events industry are up in arms over a decision by the sofitel Brisbane Grand Central to charge external suppliers $75 an hour during set-up and pack-down. own contracted audio-visual supplier “thus ensuring that commissions paid by the in-house supplier to the Sofitel... are maximised.” Letters to audio visual suppliers were sent in April this year by general manager of the Sofitel Brisbane Grand Central, Goran Aleksandrovski, outlining the new charges and the reasons behind them. Mr Aleksandrovski said in the letter that for many years the hotel has covered the costs of providing access to the hotel’s facilities to external suppliers by providing free of charge electricity, the use of building facilities such as the loading dock, elevators, etc, and had covered the costs of cleaning up after events. “Unfortunately in these unprecedented economic conditions we find that we can no longer continue to extend this courtesy to external suppliers so we have no alternative but to introduce a service charge for the use of the hotel facilities,” he said. In response, the ISES QLD Chapter believes that a client booking a Sofitel Brisbane venue space has an expectation that access to the venue by the client’s choice of staging or audiovisual contractor or supplier is part of the contract (signed by the client). “It is a well-known fact to event suppliers and contractors that many hotels and venues are paid commission [by the in-house AV company] on turnover in the vicinity of 25 per cent to 40 per cent,” ISES QLD said. “Advice to our members and industry peers is to refuse to pay any charges for access to the loading dock or use of electricity during event set-up or de-rig from the Sofitel Brisbane or for that matter any I 6 mice.net n a joint statement issued by the International Special Events Society QLD Chapter, members say the decision, which comes into effect on July 1, is putting impediments in place to stop clients using their hotel or venue and refer the matter to their client.” A spokesperson from Sofitel told mice.net the Sofitel Brisbane Central is the only hotel property in the city which boasts its own in-house AV company (a new feature for the hotel implemented around six months ago. Previously all clients needed to outsource their event AV needs). “Sofitel’s on-site based AV facilities are dedicated to supplying and perfecting the AV requirements of the hotel’s client, and is designed to provide a more convenient and competitive option for clients who require AV services while hosting an event on premises,” the spokesperson said. “Prior to Sofitel’s permanent in-house AV setup the hotel outsourced AV solutions for clients, so there was never a permanent AV option or structure in place. Given the fact that previously we did not have our own AV facility for the convenience of hotel clients, Sofitel accommodated external AV companies despite the costs to the property, such as hotel access allowances, loading dock usage, electricity, wear and tear in transporting equipment in and out of the hotel, and labour to assist in facilitating and supervising the setup of external AV. “Unfortunately given the hotel’s new permanent AV facilities, most times it is necessary for the hotel to remove its own in-house equipment in order to facilitate equipment provided by an external AV company. In order to re-coup future costs incurred by the hotel for the removal/alteration of what is now permanent AV equipment available at the hotel, from the 1st of July any external AV company operating onsite will incur a fee of $75 per hour.” The spokesperson said this was not a Sofitel directive that would be rolled out nationally.