Important Q&A to Consider:
1. How many guests will I need to check in on the day of my event?
This is a question that we ponder a lot, but it does play a critical role in eliminating a "bottle-neck" at check-in. We like to recommend that you have around 1 person for every 50 guests. Simple math on this would be 200 guests-4 people running check-in, 300 guests - 6 people running check-in...and so-forth.
It's also important to note that guest arrival time plays a big role. If your guests all show up at in a rush at a set time, you may want more people running check-in. On the contrary, if your guests tend to check-in slowly over the period of a few hours, you may need fewer people behind laptops at your check-in station.
In the event that your check-in line does start to get long, make sure you have at least a couple of volunteers trained on how to create accounts and check bidders in on our iPad app. This can help reduce the size of your line a great deal.
Be sure to designate one volunteer as a Line Marshal to help move guests through the line as quickly as possible. The Line Marshal can also remind guests to start downloading the app while they wait.
2. Where is my auction check-in located?
For this, we typically see one of two setups: 1- your auction check-in is right next to your main check-in OR 2- your auction check-in is in the area of your venue where auction items are displayed.
While either one of these can work, we find that it is much more effective to capture all guests and ensure that they have a bidder account created/paddle number assigned at one time in your main check-in area. Think about it this way: if you used an external ticket system (like Event Brite), you'll probably have to check your guests in and verify they've paid. You might have a program to give them, perhaps raffle tickets that they pre-bought, etc. If you set up your auction check-in at the same location, you can direct guests to the people responsible for Handbid check-in, to ensure that they are checked into your mobile auction. That way, you eliminate the possibility of "missing" folks that may just walk away after you hand them their program.
Main Takeaway: make your check-in station a one-stop-shop!
3. How trained and tech-savvy are your volunteers...really, though?
I can't tell you how many times we show up to events, and the auction manager swears that they have a group of great volunteers to help run the auction check-in process. In reality, half the time volunteers are using computers they are unfamiliar with, don't know the login info for, don't know the wifi login info, and/or aren't that comfortable using a computer...especially in what can be a fast-paced check-in environment.
That said: these are all things you need to consider when thinking of having the right people AND the right technology in place to run a successful check-in. Make sure of the following:
- Are there enough laptops for all of my volunteers?
- Do my volunteers have the login info for the computer?
- Do all my volunteers have the WiFi login info if it's password protected? (we recommend putting your laptops and iPads on a secure/locked network, if possible)
- Are my volunteers reliable and tech savvy, and have they been properly trained on how to check bidders in on the Handbid Auction Manager?
If you ensure the bullets above are covered, you will be sure to have better success at check-in.
4. Did you ask your guests to download the app ahead of time, OR- do you expect most of your guests to download the app the day of your event?
This is another critical question, as it can totally change the look, feel, and flow of the check-in process. Let me walk you through two scenarios:
a. You've sent out an email ahead of time to registered guests, informed them your auction will be mobile, and provided them with instructions on how to download the app, create an account, and select your auction from the list. When guests finish at the primary check-in station, they will be directed to the Handbid check-in and your volunteers will ask: "have you downloaded the Handbid app for the silent auction?" If you are proactive (as well as your guests), you will either see people hold up their phone with the app open, or they will tell you they've downloaded it. If check-in is slow, you may have time to answer questions. If a line forms, we suggest moving on to get folks registered and paddle numbers assigned.
b. The next scenario is this: you've decided to go with Handbid to run your auction, but you didn't send out a pre-event email or other correspondence explaining this, and providing instructions on how to download the app. You plan to create bidder accounts/check guests in to your auction at the event, have them download the app on-site, and learn on the fly. This can work, but if you can't tell already, scenario number 1 sounds a lot nicer.
Either way, there are things you can do at your event to help those people who haven't yet downloaded the app or know nothing about Handbid (or mobile bidding, in general)...Follow these key pointers to help your day-of crowd:
- Create and print out index card sized (and very basic) instructions on how to download the Handbid app [Insert Link to 1,2,3 Handbid File]. Doing this is much quicker than having a long-winded conversation with guests. Let them do it on their own, and ask questions later.
- Create informational signs (similar to the index cards above) and place these signs around your auction area
- Have a program? You can put info on how to download and use Handbid right in your program.
- Designate a couple volunteers as "phone helpers." These people should be familiar with the app, and have the primary job of assisting people with questions on downloading and using the Handbid app.
- If you encounter people reluctant about technology, get them their paddle number and instruct them to find an iPad helper and place their bids through our Handbid iPad App.
5. Are you using the Handbid credit card processor? And, if-so, are you requiring guests to enter a credit card?
This piece is crucial, but there are multiple scenarios here where doing different things make sense. I think the more-obvious piece of info around the Handbid credit card processor is USE IT! It will make your life easier, provide your guests with a better and "cooler" experience, as well as streamline an mitigate lines at checkout. Here are some things to consider:
- If you elect to use an external processor, what is your method for tracking and accepting payments? Keep in mind each guest will have to line up and pay individually, as opposed to paying through the app, iPads, or Handbid Auction Manager.
- If you aren't requiring a credit card, but have enabled our processor, have you instructed people ahead of time on how to enter their card info? If not, you can use card swipers or enter card info manually at check-in if a guest wishes to place a card on file (reminding them this will help make checkout a breeze if they win items can often nudge people to provide their credit card).
- If you are requiring a credit card (this is truly the best and most-streamlined option), how do you plan to handle the occasional person not willing to put their card info in?
Whatever the case may be, it's important to remind your guests that Handbid DOES NOT store credit card info, in full. What we store is an "authorization token" between Handbid and our merchant card processor, Stripe. We'll only ever see the last 4 digits of a credit card, and with the ability to pay on the app, most guests will pay invoices themselves.
6. Are you doing a live auction? If so, how are you providing guests with their paddle number?
Handbid recognizes that many organizations have a live auction component. This can be anything from a few high ticket items sold off by a fast-talking auctioneer, to a wine pull, desert dash, heads or tails, raffle tickets...and everything in between. Whatever the case may be, your guests will need a paddle number.
Good news- Handbid assigns a paddle number to every guest you check in as a bidder to your auction. This 3-digit number, which is assigned sequentially up from the number 100, 101, 102, and so-on, is the number that will be linked to their account for paddle raises, as well as event-only items you have (raffle tickets, a wine cork pull, etc).
So, my question to you is, how are you providing guests with their paddle number? We have some suggestions, but we have seen it all:
- back of the program
- name tags
- index card
- actual paddles
- pre-printed numbers
- napkins (yes, really, but don't do this)
- back of Handbid login instructions
The most-important takeaway from this is that Handbid assigns a paddle as bidders are checked into your auction. Make sure that the paddle number assigned by Handbid matches the paddle number you give them.