Is On-Site Support Necessary For Your Mobile Bidding Event?
I remember about 7 years ago turning down a large high-profile event because I felt that putting a device in the hands of each guest was a mistake. The cost of rental and support versus the increased revenue was not even close to worth the offering. Smartphones were showing up in the hands of many attendees and those who didn’t have the latest and greatest were buffeted by concierge bidders. Simply, the cost and hassle far outweighed any small bump in revenue (if any).
[su_quote]The last thing you want is a temp who is savvy with Facebook and Gmail or a hired friend-of-a-friend who knows how to use Snapchat running your check-in.[/su_quote]
Today of course, high volume device rentals are a thing of the past. Smartphones are a freebie with a new cellular contract and mobile bidding events are happy to leverage the multi-billion dollar push by Apple and LG to put a smartphone in everyone’s hand. Incidentally, the following year that non-profit called us back and abandoned the device rentals.
I believe the sun is setting for on-site support in the same way iPods and Kindles have for bidding devices. Now I don’t think this happens overnight and I’ll outline some examples where on-site is critical but the stats are showing that more and more events are doing just fine without a hired nerd or nerds running the show. For example, of the 2000+ events we conducted in 2017, less than 10% have had on-site support.
So the question is why would we as a company want to promote events without on-site support? To me the answer is two-fold. First, to get the proper on-site staff that justifies the service, we need to get highly qualified staff that can do these events in their sleep. The last thing you want is a temp who is savvy with Facebook and Gmail or a hired friend-of-a-friend who knows how to use Snapchat running your check-in. The ideal candidate is someone with a customer service background, infinite knowledge of the software (preferably through consistent use of it), knowledge of WiFi networks and a pleasant demeanor that loves non-profit work.
This also gets at a bigger issue with on-site. Helping guests with their check-in, check-out and bidding is a great opportunity to build the relationship. In my 16 years of experience it is much more valuable for donors to speak with someone who loves the charity than it is to speak to a hired hand who is there for a paycheck. The mood, persona and take-away is higher and ultimately what charities want.
If I’m going to try and find someone local via a temp agency or word of mouth I would much rather work with the charity to find a volunteer. That way we both win – the charity saves money and they help me find someone I can train. Time and time again, I see other companies bring their “on-site” team and it turns out to be cousins, boyfriends, a find on Craigslist, etc. Not exactly what I would call qualified and definitely not someone I would want to risk an event on.
As I stated above, it’s important to get the right on-site team (if you’re going to allocate budget for it) and to me that means a qualified, on-site person who has significant experience under their belt before showing up to yours. This usually means that we have to “ship” in our talent and that includes airfare, hotel, per-diem and car rental. In my opinion we should have software that is simple enough to forego the entire necessity of on-site support and let you save cost and avoid the risk of getting “cousin so-and-so”.
So, how do you know if your event is ready to skip the on-site expert(s)? Simple. Run a mock 2 day auction in advance. Once you know who your volunteers are, having them sign up, log in, bid and win items over a 24 or 48 hour window. We have customer service staff to walk you through the process so you know what to expect and we have videos to send your volunteers to help them quickly get acclimated. We would never want you to walk blindly into an event but after a 48 hour mock auction we have consistently found that clients see mobile bidding as easy and fun rather than scary and intimidating. However, if you still needed on-site support, you can know that you’re money is well spent because you’re making an educated decision versus being sold something you may not need. This is the key. On-site support should be a deliberate decision. Those reasons might include a lack of volunteers, complicated venue setup (multiple locations spaced out over long distances), inadequate WiFi support. Our sales and support team have the ability to help you determine this need.
In the end, if you need on-site support, we’ve got the best in the business. But as we’ve seen with the reduction of rental devices, the future is headed toward easier software and less on-site overhead. And that’s fine with me.