In event planning there are a lot of details to manage: invitations, venue, catering, volunteer staff, etc. Having assisted with plenty of silent and live auctions, we’ve noticed that key auction timing is often not given its due: auction strategy is necessary and often overlooked.
If you’re hosting a paper bid-sheet silent auction…
- Use carbon copy paper. Carbon copy is great for a few reasons including easy closing by the removal of the top copy, easy reference for guests who are wondering whether they won that coveted item, and easy availability of a second copy for entry into the check-out system.
- Have spotters assigned to tables so that the silent auction can be closed seamlessly and timely.
- Determine the best time to close the auction. If guests are seated at dinner or engaged in the presentation you worked so hard to put together, they are likely not going to be running out of their seats to bid on items. Close the silent auction before dinner starts; guests will then be more apt to make bids in the live auction and paddle raise, knowing what they’ve spent thus far.
If you’re hosting an electronic/wireless auction…
- Give guests the option to bid via their own SmartPhone; not only will they understand how to use their phone and they won’t have to worry about returning a borrowed device.
- You can leave the silent auction open through dinner until any programming starts.
- Instead of a paddle raise, have guests enter donations on their device and watch donations grow on a big screen set-up in the dining room. This allows check-out to begin sooner because no bid/donation information needs to be input manually: everything is updated wirelessly.
- Give guests the option of selecting Express checkout when they register online and have them include their billing information. Then, as soon as checkout opens, their receipt will be ready waiting for them so that they may collect their items instead of waiting in line.