When to Travel Your Technical Production Partner

When it comes to in-person events, when should you travel with your preferred production partner and when will a local crew do the trick?

It’s no secret … in-person events are coming back in a big way! As attendees eagerly begin to gather in-person more regularly, event travel has been booming for both attendees and event production partners. Organizations and production crews are spending a lot of time in the air (and are finally accruing status miles to prove it)!

Prior to the pandemic, most large scale events used a preferred production partner and trusted event specialists, regardless of the city the event was located in, or where the show crew would be traveling from. However, the surge of virtual and hybrid events changed more than just event planning timelines – it’s changing the way organizations and production crews think about all aspects of the event industry.

Many organizations are wondering if they should continue working with a preferred production partner who may not be located in the event city, or if it makes more sense to work with a local team.

The answer is… there is no straightforward answer! There are benefits to local and traveling production partners, so instead of taking a one size fits all approach, let’s take a look at what situations would best fit each type of partner.

When to use a local partner.

There are many scenarios in which it would make sense to engage with a local production partner, rather than traveling with a regular event partner.

The first thing to consider is the event budget. Traveling in your crew can be expensive – from airfare to hotel, per diem, and travel time, there is a cost associated with traveling in your event crew. Clients need to weigh the importance of the technical position with the associated cost. If the cost to travel in the crew member exceeds the value they bring to the event, a local partner is the way to go.

The second consideration is the event timeline. There is no question that event timelines are getting shorter, and when your event is really pressed for time, engaging a local partner will ease the amount of time needed for logistics and getting a crew onsite. Additionally, if the event is short (such as a 15-minute press conference), traveling in an entire crew might be overkill.

Finally, when it comes to planning your event, a local production partner will likely have a wealth of information about and experience with other local vendors. Whether it’s venue options, local labor positions, decorators, caterers, or local equipment vendors, their knowledge will allow them to work quickly and efficiently, saving valuable time researching the event city.

Pro Tip: Even if you are traveling with the majority of your crew or equipment, it’s great to have a local connection, just in case you run into unexpected challenges!

Of course, there can be downsides to using a local production team, rather than a trusted or long-term partner. Institutional knowledge is a two-way street, and what the local team may intrinsically know about their market, they may not know about yours. It takes time for a partner to understand not only your industry, but your event messaging, brand voice, and organizational needs.

When using a preferred partner there is something else that has already been established – trust. Capabilities can be difficult to judge, especially in the digital age. It’s easy to populate a website with photos and praise from past events, even if they don’t paint the full picture. When working with a new or local crew, be sure to ask for references and dig deep enough to uncover any falsehoods.

When to travel with your production partner.

Most high level event production agencies and partners travel for many (if not most) of their events.

Agencies and Corporate Communication Teams often have a repository of technical production partners. Sometimes they’ll determine who is best to work with based on the event location, but more commonly, the decision is influenced by the capabilities and experience of the crew, as well as the needs of the event.

Many organizations find that the extra spend to travel a trusted production partner or technical crew to their event is worth it for the value they bring.

It’s common for organizations to produce recurring events every year, quarter, month … even every week … with each event held in a different location. Using the same crew for most events allows the organization to work with a team that already understands expectations, knows the executives and VIPs, and has built confidence with the entire production team. Ideally, partnering on multiple events will create a relationship that is so seamless, executives don’t know the difference between the agency or corp comm team and their technical partner.

This familiarity and comfort takes time to build, but goes a long way in creating a relaxed environment. It can be particularly important when it comes to large events, high profile engagements, or recurring events that tend to follow a similar structure each time.

Additionally, because so many production partners travel for the majority of their events, they tend to have event contacts and vendor connections all over the country (or world). Even if they aren’t local to the event city, odds are they’ll have plenty of information on venues, equipment rentals, and any needed local labor.

The best of both worlds.

We know the word “hybrid” has been used a lot recently – but we’re not talking about events that have both virtual and in-person components this time!

For many events, it will make sense to use a hybrid crew – that is, a crew that utilizes a combination of trusted technical partners and local crew.

This works best when a few key positions, such as project managers, department heads, and speciality operators, travel in for the event, but other crew positions are reserved for the local labor pool. Local unions and staffing services will be terrific resources in securing labor for secondary positions and stagehands throughout the event.

This combination of traveling and local crews will prioritize the positions that need to be performed by trusted technical partners while still utilizing local labor to manage costs whenever possible.

Knowing whether or not to travel your event’s production partner or technical crew may seem complicated. By taking the time to think about the needs of your event, organization, and speakers, you’ll be able to determine what approach will work best for you.

At Encompass, we have unique backgrounds that situate us perfectly to produce high end and complex offerings. We’ve worked in broadcast television, touring entertainment, live sporting events, and countless convention facilities across the country.

We have technical design experience and a disciplined process in place that allows us to easily scale events and shift from in-person to virtual without angst. There isn’t much that’s beyond our scope and we love the intensity of putting on events!

If you’re a planner working to create an event, seeking help with virtual event technology, or simply want to learn more … we can help! Sign up below to receive our updates (we promise to keep your contact information secure and won’t “overshare”).