How to Set Up a Successful Registration/Check-Out Area at Your Auction

September 12, 2010

A Successful Registration Set-Up at the Columbia Land Trust Auction

Although Registration and Check-Out are the very first and last impressions your guests will have of your auction and event, surprisingly these areas are often overlooked in the planning process. In this post, we would like to dedicate some time to sharing with you some tried and true ways that have proven to be most effective for a speedy Registration and Check-Out process.

Timing: Remember when planning your timeline, open doors at an early enough hour to allow for both the admittance of attendees and still give them enough time to get into the Reception and walk through the Silent Auction section.

Location, Location, Location: Where you set up your Registration/Check-Out area(s) is just as crucial as how you set them. Keep in mind the number of attendees who will be arriving to and leaving your event in one small timeframe. The most convenient and effective Registration/Check-Out area is going to be somewhere near the entrance of the event venue where lines can easily flow and guests will be comfortable (ex// if guests will be standing outside waiting to get to the registration area, be sure they are protected from the elements and under tenting. If it is cold out, consider incorporating standing heaters along the way).  Keeping the Registration/Check-Out area highly visible as the very first and last obvious stopping point. This will ensure that you do not end up with a large group who skipped Registration/Check-Out altogether (Guests with no bidder numbers = less funds raised). If the venue is set up as such that it does not allow for Registration/Check-Out to be in a highly visible area, make sure to have both signage and volunteers directing traffic as guests arrive to and leave your event.

Set-Up: Although it seems like a good idea to have Registration/Check-Out stations alphabetized, the truth of the matter is that guests do not arrive and leave your event in alphabetical order. When this set-up style is implemented, it is not uncommon to find certain sections of the alphabet with long lines and others with few to no people, causing some irritation from the guests in line. This doesn’t mean alphabetizing is not a good idea. In fact, it is a GREAT idea! It just works better to be alphabetized on the back end instead of the front end.

A format that tends to work best is to set up two 6ft – 8ft tables lined together where you can station four (4) Registration/Check-Out volunteers (two at each table). At each station, a laptop, printer, and credit card terminal should be available. Every laptop should have access to all data so that each Registration/Check-Out volunteer can work with any name or bidder number.  Behind the data stations would be another set of the same sized tables, where alphabetized boxes of Registration Packets are located for easy access by any of the Registration/Check-Out volunteers. The packets might include the catalog, schedule for the evening, entrée card (if applicable), table number and bid number.

By forming a single line for Registration, guests can go from the front of the line to any one of the stations available. Your Registration/Check-Out volunteers can either be standing so they themselves can walk to the tables behind them and pick up the Registration Packets, or if you plan to have them seated, you can assign an additional volunteer to each station to pull the packet for each guest as they check-in.

Additionally, it has proven to be helpful for some groups to have a “Special Services” Registration/Check-Out Station set up for situations that might slow down a line. A few examples of where this might happen are, 1) someone is attending in place of another person and needs to be registered in the system, 2) a guest has brought additional attendees and would like to purchase tickets, or 3) the main Registration Station simply cannot locate the person’s Registration Packet. This additional station will keep the line moving at Registration, while the “Special Services” volunteer will be able to assist these guests who will require more time. The person running “Special Services” will know where the empty seats are located and at which tables he/she can place additional guests as well as be trained on how to troubleshoot other potential scenarios ahead of the event.

If you have the ability at your auction and event to have guests pre-register online with their credit card, which can make for a more smooth process, you can also utilize the following sticker system for the registration packets, which will help to further speed up the process and make sure that nothing is missed:

–       green sticker – this person can go ahead into the event

–       red sticker – still need essential information or payment info for this person

–       yellow sticker – this person may have some missing information such as email, etc.

Auction Software can be extremely beneficial for groups to use for all auction components, with Registration/Check-Out at the top of the list. Because there are so many software programs and companies available for Auction Registration/Check-Out, we will focus another post primarily on that one particular topic. In the meantime, we hope this post helps you in setting up a successful Registration/Check-Out area at your next auction!