During check-out your guests are eager to wrap up the loose ends of the night.
They want to pick up their prizes, gather their goody bags, and end the evening on a positive note. To ensure their expectations are met means your check-out process should be donor-focused. Setting the stage for this to happen is as easy as looking at your check-out process through the attendees’ eyes. This will help you anticipate problems and eliminate roadblocks so you have an efficient, pleasant experience for the guest.
To organize a successful check-out, ask yourself these questions:
1. The data collection area
The first station your guests should arrive at is the data collection area where they can turn in their bid information and you can confirm all your records are updated with the correct information.
Prior to the event conduct a headcount to make sure you have enough stations to accommodate the number of people you’ll have coming through the check-out line. Consider investing in an integrated event software program to ensure all the information is available instantly to your team across the venue. Speed up the process by having volunteers in place to check in with people waiting in line so they can update their information on an iPad before they even reach the check-out stations.
2. Is the traffic flow intuitive?
Don’t let a bottleneck at check-out ruin the last moments of an otherwise successful event. Review and revise the traffic flow route and note any potential problem areas. Your goal should be a logical, easy path your guests will have no trouble navigating.
Look at the venue’s floorplan during the planning stage, then revise as needed once you are in the space. There may be special equipment that was placed in an inconvenient spot or you might find that wheelchair accessibility is hampered as people approach the pick area.
You won’t fully see what your guests will experience until you are standing in their place. Place knowledgeable, trained team members nearby to supervise the process and be available for questions that might arise.
Using prompts to provide guidance and structure to the check-out and pick up areas is typical for event venues. Don’t miss this opportunity to also include information about your organization and advertise your next event.
Place posts with helpful information at corners in your high-traffic areas. Use tabletop signs in places where people will have to wait to be helped, such as the data collection area. Keep pop up signs evenly spaced so people will have time to read them as they move through the lines.
Every event planner knows the power of a knowledgeable, ready-on-the-spot volunteer. They help your guests, they help you, and they help their fellow volunteers. Giving them all they need to do the job will equip them to handle more tasks and resolve more issues, all while leaving you free to do your job.
Create a volunteer structure that includes leaders, dedicated team members, and runners. Have enough to cover all the areas of business that are required at check-out. Make sure to give your data processing team the proper training so they will feel confident when gathering important information. Keep them well-fed, hydrated, and happy so they can perform at their best when working with your donors.
5. Gift bags
Don’t underestimate the power of a thoughtful gift bag. Your guests will leave the event with a smile, knowing they are appreciated for the time and financial support they’ve provided.
Your gift bag should include a thank you note, your sponsors material, instructions to help them donate again, an invitation to your next event, and a “wow” item, whether that be something simple like candy, or something more closely tied in with your event’s theme. Either have the gift bags arranged on a table ready to grab as guests pass by or have volunteers in place to hand them out with a smile and a “thank you for coming.”
6. Pick-up area
The pick-up area at check-out can easily become the most chaotic feature of your event. Missing bid numbers, mismatched combo items, disarray, and so many other things can create confusion and anxiety in your team members and disgruntled reactions from your guests.
To keep the area running smoothly, create categories for the items and keep them separated in groups. Make sure your volunteers understand how you’ve organized the different categories. Place items purchased by remote bidders away from the rest of the items and small items should be kept safely on tables. This will make it easier to find items during a rush. Consider doing it by size or items number.
For example, all items that are combined with other items could start out with a number between 100 and 199, items that include tickets to an event or experience could be given a number between 200 and 299. Make sure the item numbers are easy to find and the label is clearly legible. If you have heavier items, enlist volunteers who are able to lift and carry the bigger items for your guests. Make sure there is a door nearby with enough room to move the item around as it’s being loaded.