Tuesday, May 18, 2010
The key to building a lot that will garner top bids in the live auction is in creating a winning combination of great wines and one-of-a-kind experiences that cannot be duplicated without special “access” to the people, places and things that are not generally available.
Collaborating is essential, and in the spirit of developing a unique event, we reach out to people for the access that makes it possible. Example: for the 2007 Auction Napa Valley, we connected with the CEO of Maseratti through a friend and requested that his company make two of his brand new coupes available for our use to drive all over Italy as one of the core components of the adventure we were building. His response was that it had never been done before. I asked him to think about it. Eventually he agreed, and it became the cornerstone of a lot that brought in $1.1 million!
Once the pieces of an exciting lot have been assembled, promoting it in advance is critical to building excitement that will carry into the tent on Auction day. We usually start this effort in January of the auction year because bidders need time to think about a complex lot, and many form consortiums with friends to share the experience and expense.
This year, our partners are Departures Magazine and CORE: club New York. Our lot is titled: “Connoisseur Collection – One-of-Kind Experiences in Napa Valley, New York City, Los Cabos, Mexico and the World.” (Click here to see a video description.) Departures has promoted the lot to its Platinum Card® and Centurion® members from American Express, and we’ve co-hosted two events at the CORE: club to help us connect with past top-bidders and people who would potentially be interested in it. So far, the feedback has been excellent, and we’re hopeful our lot will be a star on auction day.
Once the gavel comes down and the lot sells, the work begins to make the adventure happen. Schedules are always tight, and bidders are extremely gracious in understanding that it can take up to a year to align all of the people and places. And making the personal commitment to participate with the bidders in their adventure as their guide who takes the sponsor responsibility seriously is important. It brings a comfort level. The bidders know they can relax and enjoy the experience without concern.
So, as I write this, Shari and I are on a plane to Europe with the winning bidders of our 2009 lot, and we have an amazing adventure ahead. I look forward to sharing stories at the 2010 Auction Napa Valley in a few weeks, as we assemble again to offer great wines and experiences to raise money for great causes.
Cheers! Garen Staglin