Gala Auctions with Online and Mobile Bidding are in-person events where silent items are offered via online bidding before and/or during the gala, and closing during the gala. During the event, Gala guests bid on their smartphones.
Mobile bidding is popular for low-touch, in-person events and for organizations that wish to reduce the paper/data entry involved in a typical silent gala auction.
Best practices for Gala events with Pre-Event Online Bidding and for Gala events with Mobile Bidding apply. When it comes to using both online pre-bidding and in-person mobile bidding, there are additional factors to consider:
Best Practices and Tips
Test the connectivity at your event venue well in advance of your event to make sure it can sustain mobile bidding by the number of attendees you expect.
If people can bid from the comfort of home, you need to make it worth their while to book a sitter, buy a ticket, dress up, and attend your event in person. For this reason, your Live bidding items and your entertainment for the gala really need to shine. And you need to promote the heck out of your gala event.
Set up automatic invitations to bid. Invitations to bid can be automatically sent to your in-person attendees upon check-in, saving you a last-minute task and making it easy for your in-person guests to start bidding right away.
Establish a couple of proxy bid stations, staffed by team members with tablets or laptops who can enter bids. Phone batteries die, phones get lost or broken or accidentally left at home, and the occasional flip phone user may attend. Proxy bid stations make it possible for these bidders to participate, too.
Set up a mobile bidding screen to display the status of your most appealing silent items. This can add entertainment value to your silent auction, as attendees watch the bidding progress in real time.
If it’s been a while since your community gathered, you may want to use Max bids, rather than Quick bids, so that people can catch up with one another while the software bids for them. But if you’d like for your guests to experience some bidding war energy during your silent auction, Quick bids are the way to go.
Enable text outbid notifications and invite your guests to opt in to receiving them.
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?
Don’t keep your online silent items open during your live auction. You wouldn’t keep silent paper bidding items open and allow people to wander away from your live auction, and you shouldn’t allow for that with mobile bidding items either. Closing your silent items prior to the start of your live auction keeps your guests focused on the main event.
Rather than sending winning bid notifications to each item winner, turn off that setting and wait until the end of the evening to send your guests an invitation to self checkout. This will allow people to review and pay for their purchases all at once.
If you’re allowing non-attendees to bid from home, and a non-local bidder wins the item, will your organization pay for shipping and packaging? If not, make sure bidders are aware of additional shipping costs.
Don’t attempt to sell your bidders pre-bidding access as a VIP perk. Bidders gain zero advantage from being the first to bid. The bids that really count are the ones that are placed right before or at closing time.