Auction Check-In Strategies to Get Guests From Parking Lot to Punch Bowl Quickly


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Your auction guests are coming with the intention to bid and win fantastic prizes while supporting your organization — after all, you’ve already been building buzz around your event! The more time they waste in the check-in line, the less time they have for the actual auction! Show your guests you value their time by making check-in quick and easy. The following tips will help you cut down on wait time and keep your guests happy. A happy guest is willing to spend more now and attend future events!

Appoint parking lot attendants

Your parking lot can be a good first contact point for your guests. These attendants can be separate from people who are there to direct guests where to park or act as valets, and they can provide much-needed direction to your guests before they reach your door. There’s nothing worse than a long line at the door because people are confused and have a lot of questions. Have your lot attendants greet guests, explain the check-in process, and direct them where to go when they arrive. If you’ve split check-in tables up by categories, get your guests in the right line right away!

Make check-in tables a one-stop shop

A helpful strategy for getting guests through check-in quickly is allowing pre-registered attendees to go directly to a check-in table. From there, they can get their registration packets and get to their tables. Having check-in at the same table as day-of registrants, and having goodie bags and bid paddles at a different table, means your guests are waiting in either one long line or multiple lines. Separate day-of registrants from guests who registered ahead of time. Then, further segment those check-in tables alphabetically by last name or group name to avoid having a huge check-in line.

As guests come up to the check-in tables, have everything ready for them. If they need a physical bid paddle or need to pick up pre-paid raffle tickets or goodie bags, have them ready to grab and go. Prep pre-registered guests’ event items ahead of the event. Then, organize them in a way that’s convenient to distribute. This will work wonders to speed attendees through the line day-of.

Bonus Tip: Have check-in signage clearly visible to guests as they walk through the door. This allows them to navigate the room and get in the right place to be checked in. Make sure the signage is high up. Signs taped to the front of tables will be unreadable when people get in the line. Instead, post the signs up high. Make sure they’re larger than a sheet of paper so they can be read from a distance.

Offer a concierge service

Just like fancy hotels, you may want to implement a concierge service to assist guests who may need or want a little more help during the auction. This is a perfect solution for organizations that cater to donors with mobility difficulties on a regular basis. Because you want your guests to enjoy the event, make concierge service something they can select on their registration form. Then, appoint a volunteer to check them in, manage their bids, and otherwise be super attentive. This will help elderly and disabled donors enjoy your event more. Plus, you’ll be offering a service ensured to make donors who opted in feel taken care of. Hopefully, their appreciation of this service will translate to them donating more at your event.

Be prepared

Our last bit of advice is to be prepared. First, you’ll want to make sure that your volunteers and event staff know their assigned roles. Explain what their responsibilities are. Cross-train your event volunteers if necessary. Then, do a test run of the auction. Make sure you assign someone to take notes. Recruit your entire office to help so that everyone working check-in can have a clear expectation of what registration will be like day-of. Assign the concierge service volunteers to specific mock registrants and have them complete tasks they’ll be asked to do throughout the night. This ensures your concierge team is efficient, polite, and helpful the night of. Lastly, review what didn’t work during the test phase. Make necessary changes (and communicate those changes to volunteers and staff).


The check-in process forms your guests’ first impression of your event. If guests wait in long lines or deal with unprepared staff, they’re not going to enjoy your event. Worse yet, if you don’t take good care of your guests who need extra help, they may not come to your organization’s future fundraisers. Personally, I’d hate to know a nonprofit lost out on a donation due to not being accessible. Instead, prepare your event ahead of time, communicate clearly about the check-in process, and make check-in a one-stop shop. Offering a concierge service is a special touch that can help your auction participants feel cared for and appreciated.

Need ideas for auction items? This article has got you covered!

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