When I worked as an event planner, 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.
Among my clientele, hotels are among the most popular of auction venues. But for obvious reasons, hotels prefer to give deals to clients who book sleeping rooms as part of their contract.
The challenge with fundraising auctions is that the non-profit is more interested in ballroom space to accommodate a silent auction and a dinner than in selling rooms. Most of my clients have events that appeal to local guests who attend the auction but have no need to book a hotel room. At night’s end, many return home to snooze in their own beds.
Though you can’t entice a hotel to offer you a discount because of the sheer number of sleeping rooms you’ll fill with guests, keep these ideas in mind.
1. 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 decorations, it’s often 1 AM. Staff are “rewarded” by getting to crash upstairs in the hotel room instead of driving home in exhaustion.
2. 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 imbibe as they’d like without having to drive home that night. If the hotel has good breakfasts, be sure to let the guests know. Consider asking the hotel for “breakfast included” deal.
3. 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.
4. Negotiate total sleeping room nights sold; don’t commit to filling a specific number of rooms on any given night.
Instead of committing to fill (for instance) 10 rooms on a given night, commit to filling 10 rooms over the course of three nights.
Your committee / staff might use two nights — the night before the auction, and night of the event. Out of town guests (see #3 above) might book a room for the night of the auction and the following evening. Be sure the contract allows you the flexibility to count ALL room nights towards your total commitment.
Is your auction venue a hotel? If so, do you advertise a discounted hotel rate and market hotel rooms?
Share your ideas below.