ask for benchmark examples
Find professionals that don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk and can show you examples of what they’ve made possible on previous projects. “I’d also expect my consultant to tell me why not just from an aesthetic point of view something makes sense, but why it makes sense to my business. I’d want my consultant to express an interest in understanding what the business drivers are,” says Hochlerin.
When Cerami & Associates began working with IMG Worldwide, the global sports, fashion and media company, it was of a huge advantage for them to introduce their future client to a past client, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). “IMG went [to its NYC headquarters] and learned how the BBC was doing their video conferencing, how they were using iPads. Our work was really able to speak for itself and that client-to-client explanation showed we really did our job,” Hochlerin says. It’s important to be able to talk to other clients about the business benefits of a consultant or A/V firm’s work.
It’s important to stay abreast of what your product and placement options are. For example, “Interior designers should really understand what can be possible with displays, which is so much more than what was even possible a few years ago,” says Davis. Planar and some of the A/V integrators they work with have entire programs in place to keep designers educated, she says. “We offer AIA-accredited courses and have partners that do ‘lunch-and-learn-type’ trainings.”
“Designers are becoming more savvy in using video to reinforce the design that they’re going for,” she adds. Planar’s clients at the Hotel DeLuxe, a hotel featuring an “old Hollywood aesthetic” in Portland, Ore., decided to incorporate a video wall into their lobby space that displays black and white photographs of old Hollywood starlets in a slowly changing cycle. This design move keeps the atmosphere fresh and guests engaged, and more importantly, reinforces the interiors surrounding it.
let’s work together
“Patience, understanding and flexibility,” says Savage. That’s what it takes to maintain a successful working relationship between tech consultant, integrator and interior designer. “They run the project,” he says of interior designers, “and you’ve got to be willing to work with them. Don’t slam your plans down their throat.”
“I had to understand his process and how to work with him,” Savage says of Jeffrey Beers of Jeffrey Beers International when they worked together on Xfinity Live, a sports entertainment destination in Philadelphia. “I had to educate him on sizes and where things would work properly. So after a lot of educating and bringing everyone up to speed, we came up with a very nice product.”
According to Davis, both sides should see the language barriers that arise as complementary points of view they can learn from. “Interior designers don’t necessarily understand or fully appreciate the technical constraints or the costs of implementing their vision. And integrators don’t always appreciate the subtleties of what the designer is asking for—why it’s important that this product is placed exactly where they designed it to be placed, or at the height it’s designed to be placed at, or that it’s cladded in the materials that they want.” But this can be a good thing,
as long as both parties learn to communicate, educate and trust each other in order to arrive at the best solution.
“They shouldn’t be just the ‘no department’,” she says of A/V and tech professionals. “They’re helping the designer understand what’s even possible.”
“I would encourage designers to find consultants or integrators that they could bring into a client meeting—actually pitch a client and answer questions that might come up on the client side,” she adds.
Have any advice of your own on working with great (or not so great) A/V or tech professionals? Sound off on our Facebook and Twitter pages. We’ll publish your added tips and suggestions in a future issue.