A Fusion Event with All Online Bidding is a hybrid-style event that combines an in-person gala with a virtual live auction. Silent items close during the gala, prior to the start of the live auction, and both in-person and at-home bidders place their silent auction bids online. Then, at-home bidders view a livestream of the live auction and bid on their devices, while in-person viewers bid on live items using a stripped down version of the virtual bidding platform on their smartphones.
Fusion events are a heavy lift, so make sure there’s significant upside before you decide to hold one. Many of the tips and best practices for Gala Auctions with Mobile Bidding and for Fusion Events with Paddle Bidding apply, but there are additional considerations:
Best Practices and Tips
Close all silent auction items prior to the Live auction, just as you would if you were holding a traditional gala event. You would never encourage your guests to leave your in-progress Live auction and wander over to your silent auction and bid, and you shouldn’t do that during your Fusion event either.
Hire a seasoned, professional auctioneer and/or emcee with experience working fusion events. Because people will be placing bids on phones, rather than raising paddles, you need a talented front person who knows how to build energy and excitement in the room.
Assess the connectivity at your venue well in advance of your event to make sure it can support mobile bidding.
In order to track attendance and target your at-home and in-person bidders with the correct bidding instructions, it’s important to have everyone, even your at-home bidders, buy a ticket for your event. Asking virtual guests to register by "buying" a $0 Virtual only ticket has the advantages of driving all supporters to the same registration page/process and allows your team to easily exchange tickets for guests that need to change how they attend.
Instruct your in-person attendees to choose the "Attending In Person" virtual view, so that they won’t be thrown off by watching a slightly delayed livestream of your event. The in-person screen contains a stripped down bidding interface without a livestream view.
Things to Consider or Avoid
Be careful that a virtual option doesn't merely cannibalize your gala attendance. Fusion events make a lot of sense when your supporters are geographically dispersed or when it is otherwise impractical for many to attend in person. But Fusion events are twice the work (and expense) of a gala OR virtual event and - so you'll want to be confident that your efforts will result in MORE participation rather than just shifting participation from in person to virtual.
Never direct your live auction bidders to your silent auction catalog. Both your in-person and at-home live auction bidders will need to leave your virtual bidding screen to view your silent items. Keep them focused on the live auction for its entire duration.
Think about what your at-home viewers will be seeing during your live event. Don’t launch your livestream until there’s something interesting for your at-home viewers to see or you're ready to start bidding or requesting paddle raise donations. Make sure that any pre-recorded video is incorporated directly into your livestream, rather than attempting to film the display screen at your event.
An entirely online fusion event eliminates the need to sync in-person and remote live bidding, because everyone is bidding on your virtual interface. But these events can also lack energy and excitement, because people at your venue spend a lot of time bent over their phones. This may also make it more difficult for your auctioneer to engage with the crowd. Spice up your all-online Fusion event with brief bursts of entertainment (raffle draws, awards, funny skits) between auction items to keep everyone engaged.
In-person attendees may get caught up in the moment and raise their hands to bid, rather than bidding on their phones. And your auctioneer, whose job it is to keep advancing the bid, may accept those bids--but they won’t register on the bidding interface, possibly resulting in confusion about who holds the high bid. Make sure your guests (and your auctioneer) understand that bids must be placed on phones in order to count.