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Travel and vacation items often make great items for your benefit auction. No great insight there. But today’s tip, from Nellie H., one of our favorite customers, put a spin on the category I hadn’t thought of before.

The idea starts by thinking of the value of a vacation package in a slightly different way from the usual - it’s not always in the cost of the tickets, or the dreams of an exotic location, or even the opportunity to escape from the kids for a weekend. Sometimes, an inexpensive vacation package, close to your home city or town, can create excitement among your school community for another reason entirely.

I’ll let Nellie take it from here:

My best tip: secure reservations for something that is impossible to get without reservations far in advance. Example: the yurts at Oregon campgrounds. They are available 9 months in advance and the ones at the beach during the summer get totally booked in the late fall. We reserved two in Nehalem for July and sold those at our 2008 auction and they sold for over FMV.

The reason this works is certainly not because it’s an exotic venue, nor is it a particularly expensive one that people will be looking for bargains on. It’s because these reservations are scarce - and scarcity is a virtue when it comes to auction procurement. Your winning bidder values the reservation as much (or more) than the cost of the item itself.

We have other venues here in Oregon that also work well for this reason - the Treehouse Bed ‘n Breakfast, and any place to stay, any at all, in Ashland during the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Those are reservations that take time and patience to get, and if you are the kind of guy (like me) that never seems to be able to think a year ahead when it comes to vacation planning… well, you can see the appeal.

Since a deposit is often required at places like these, you’ll need a donor to front the money to hold the reservations. That’s a great request to make of that parent group board member who generally has a little more money than they do time to write letters or call in favors in the service of your procurement effort - ask them for a cash donation to cover the deposit (or even the entire cost of lodging for a weekend or a week) and you or someone else on your team do the dialling to get the reservation.


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