UPDATE TO POST SEPT. 2009: The fundraising auction venue contacts class is over, but you can keep abreast of upcoming calls by subscribing to my e-newsletter.
UPDATE TO POST AUGUST 2009: Here’s a FREE teleclass I’m leading to discuss fundraising auction venue contracts.
When I worked as an event planner for GE, I read event management magazines to keep abreast of remodeled hotels, unique venues, trends in meetings, and other tidbits. As an auctioneer reading those same publications, I like to keep an eye out for how my clients might use key information to help them in their planning.
Here’s what I just read.
My March 31, 2009 HSMAI Affordable Meetings email highlighted an article written by The Associated Press titled “Major Hotel Companies Cutting Event Costs.” Many fundraising auctions are held in hotels, so the title grabbed my attention.
For obvious reasons, hotels prefer clients who book sleeping rooms. The challenge with auctions is that the non-profit is more interested in ballroom space to accommodate a silent auction and a dinner (or cocktail hour). My clients usually have local guests who attend the auction, enjoy the evening, and return home — to snooze in their own beds.
Does that eliminate you from nabbing a great deal on a hotel? Not necessarily.
The article highlighted several deals, so – for those of you booking right now for fundraising auction venues this fall or next year — let’s see how we can swing this to your advantage.
Of those listed, I think these four hotel chains had deals which could benefit you.
1. Hyatt Hotels – For events involving at least 10 guest rooms, Hyatt is giving a 10% discount at its resorts, or 6% at its hotels.
2. Starwood Hotels (i.e. St. Regis, Sheraton, and Westin) – Offering a 3% discount on the total room bill and 10% discount on food and drink.
3. Fairmont Hotels – For events with at least 10 rooms, 10% off total room bill.
4. The Kessler Collection (hotels in CO, NM, NC, GA, and FL) are waiving all no-show fees and eliminating penalties for rescheduling events.
Here are five tips which resonated with me.
1. Discounts on food and drink (F&B in the vernacular of the trade) are obvious perks. That is often the largest expense of a fundraising auction, so any discounts are savings straight to the bottom line.
2. A ten room minimum IS workable.
One of my non-profits uses four rooms for staff alone. After they’ve set up the auction, worked the event, and tore down the party, it’s often 1 AM and staff are “rewarded” by getting to crash upstairs in the hotel room instead of driving home in exhaustion.
3. Market sleeping rooms to your guest list.
Couples can enjoy making a weekend of the party … even if the party isn’t on a weekend. Remind them that if they book a room, they can attend the auction and drink as much wine as they’d like, because they won’t be driving home until the following day. And who doesn’t love breakfast at hotels? Mmm.
4. Auctions celebrating a milestone (“It’s our 25th anniversary!”) often market their gala to founders and alumni who launched the organization oh-so-long-ago.
Select a Friday or Saturday night to make the date more appealing to out-of-towners. They’ll want to support the group (especially if you are honoring them during the evening) and will often need a room.
5. Eliminating penalties for rescheduling and dropping no-show fees are good additions to your contract.
Planning is difficult because planners usually secure critical functions in advance (e.g. venues, auctioneers, check-out services, bands), but specific schedules are often not determined until dates near. For instance, a decade ago I worked at an association. We booked our convention dates at least six years in advance, but it’s hard to know what you’ll be doing six years from now!
Many fundraising auction venues are booked by event planners nine months to a year in advance, but the Board of Directors might decide to reschedule an auction date 2 or 3 months before the event. Avoiding rescheduling or similar penalties is a good way to play it safe in uncertain economic times.
If you want to read the entire article, the HSMAI link led me here: