A client called last week. Her preferred benefit auction venue is booked, and she’s on the hunt for a new space that will hold 200-250 guests.
“Can you point me in a few directions?” she asked.
Here in the Washington, D.C. area I have a list of cool venues to meet her guest count. But as this blog is read by auction planners from across the globe, I’m going to be more general.
Changing your venue is an easy way to give a facelift to your benefit auction and it comes with the added benefit of often increasing attendance, if you select wisely. Guests love checking out new venues!
Consider these alternatives.
- Private homes – It will work if the home accommodates the guest count. At a home outside of San Diego, I stood on a small stage in the driveway. Guests faced me, theater-style. And if the event is to be held inside the house, standing on a staircase to conduct the auction gives a bird’s eye view.
- Bed & Breakfast – At an auction gala a few years ago, the buzz was all about the new venue. The stately antebellum home had only recently opened as a bed & breakfast and everyone was clamoring to see what it looked like inside. Tours were conducted before the auction began. (See photo.)
- New hotels – For a change of scenery, head to a new hotel. “New” might mean “recently built,” or it can just be a new venue for your group.
- Refurbished or renovated hotels – What facility is getting a facelift in your area? Check in with the Chamber of Commerce for ideas.
- Museums – Depending on the museum, expect to pay big bucks – a $50,000 rental fee isn’t uncommon here in Washington, D.C. (And personally I don’t think it’s a smart use of your most charity’s funds.) But in the Fort Lauderdale, FL area, the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum offered a reasonable rate and a client hosted its school auction at the facility.
- Public spaces – On a hot autumn night, a client conducted an auction with 1,000 people under the town hall pavilion. An auction under the (rain-free) stars will make for a memorable evening. Unbelievably, it was a mere $500 rental fee.
- Catering hall – Because catering halls are specifically designed for events, catering and parking is often a snap. One of my Cincinnati clients uses a catering hall popular for weddings and fundraisers.
- Shopping malls – Your auction might be either indoors next to the fountain or tucked into an empty storefront.
- School auditoriums and church fellowship halls – These are perennially popular for two good reasons: cost and a nice open space. Parking is also rarely a problem.
- Theaters – To conduct a live auction, it’s easy to have people seated in a theater. Just make sure the lobby is large enough to accommodate your silent auction (if you have one).
- Work facilities – Know of a cool work facility? We’ve conducted more than one benefit auction in an airport terminal or airplane hangar. What about a manufacturing plant, nightclub, or a salt mine 650′ underground?