This style of event has all of the attributes of a Gala auction except bids on silent items are placed on smartphones instead of paper bid sheets. Bid paddles are raised for the Live Auction bidding/special appeal (if any). The key advantage of mobile bidding is that it allows supporters that are unable to attend in person to participate in the silent auction from anywhere.
Virtually all of the tips for Gala auctions, including silent auctions, are still pertinent and can be found here. This article focuses on tips specific to the mobile bidding portion of your event.
Best Practices and Tips
- Verify that your venue can support mobile bidding in advance! Best Practice: If Cellular Signals are consistently strong, prioritize Wi-Fi usage for your staff/volunteers, and have your guests use cellular networks. This prevents guest usage from potentially overloading the Wi-Fi network and interfering with your Auction management.
- If you are displaying silent/mobile items on more than one table - best practice is to stagger the closing times by 15 minutes. Because bidding is most active in the final minutes - it can be hard to react to outbid notifications quickly enough for bidders trying to win many items. Dividing tables into separate closings allows bidders to focus on fewer items during the last frantic minutes of each closing - ensuring they don't have to "triage" the items they most want to win.
- Send invitations to bid to all potential bidders (with or without tickets) with user records on your event site. Enable auto-invite at check-in to ensure each guest has a fresh invite at the top of their inbox once they check-in. If you are using self-check-in, enable the "Direct Guests to Online/Mobile Bidding after check-in" setting so they can begin to browse (and bid) right away.
- Choose the right bidding style for your event: Quick Bids (single bid buttons) are best when the bidding period is limited to a few hours and participants are focused on bidding because they encourage - and require - active participation. Max bids (ebay style automated bidding) are best when bidding takes place over multiple days and/or bidders are distracted.
- Whichever bid style you opt for - make sure you enable the extended bidding option - which will automatically extend bidding on items receiving bids in the final minutes - ensuring that all bids are captured.
- Plan for - and train your event night team how to handle the unexpected: placing proxy bids for guests that need assistance, providing access if a user can't find an invitation, knowing how to extend a closing time if necessary.
- Bidding can get off to a slow start for many reasons - traffic hold-ups, check-in or bar lines, guests arrive "fashionably late", guests prioritize socializing - it happens! If you think you may need to extend the bidding period to reach your goals - just do it. Don't wait and hope things pick up - waiting until the last moment just creates chaos and confusion and potentially, resentment.
Things to consider or avoid:
- Weigh the benefits of inclusion (allowing more supporters to participate) with the risk of reducing gala attendance/net income. Typically, both the live auction and paddle raise each produce more revenue than a silent auction. If guests that would otherwise attend choose to bid from home - how might that impact your live auction and special appeal results? And if fewer guests attend in person, will the reduced ticket revenue still cover the costs of your venue/food?
- If there is ANY chance you may want to extend the mobile bidding period, disable automatic close-out to prevent items from being awarded to winners before the closing times can be updated. Make sure you know how to access the "Extend Bidding" button to add 10 minutes instantly (to allow time to make manual edits, as needed).
- Don't use mobile bidding only because it seems "easier" to have closing times and items awarded "automatically" - yes, you'll save an hour or two of (simple) data entry on event night - but that is unlikely to justify the extra complexity of configuring the "automation" and/or explaining it to your guests.