Travel and dining auction rings in 25th year this April

Travel and dining auction from 2019. (Photo courtesy of Nancy King)

Eighty-five dollar bid now $90, now $90 bid, now $95 … sold for $100 to Willie the Wildcat. Check out what’s for sale at the 25th annual travel and dining auction taking place next month, April 2, at the Hilton Garden Inn Manhattan.

The travel and dining auction is set up in a class format for each spring semester, but there is a lot more that goes into the preparations before the Tuesday/Thursday class. The first week of class is full of information, and Nancy King — hospitality management instructor — has students dive right in as they only have a few months before the auction.

Miss King is dreaming of it [travel and dining auction] constantly,” Kayla Jost, senior in hospitality management and co-chair of the class, said. “It is something that we prepare for a lot. But its preparation starts right before this second spring semester starts.”

The class is made up of 20 students headed by the two co-chairs: Jost and Sydnee Caton, senior in hospitality management. King said that if the 20 students were to prepare the auction from the ground up, they would need much more time as an event of this size would normally take a year.

“The basic plan is there,” King said. “And then we kind of mix it up a little bit and add a new wow factor to each event.”

Not only is the travel and dining auction a great resume builder for students, but it helps students gain a new sense of professionalism, training and skills going into future jobs and careers.

“It gives the students hands-on experience before they actually go into the real world and plan events,” Abby Whitney, senior in hospitality management and marketing lead, said. “We get to see all the behind-the-scenes of everything that goes into an auction. I know I had no idea before I took the class … it’s a great learning experience for students.”

In the past 24 years, hospitality management students have taken part in the class, planned events and raised over $500,000. All of the proceeds for the auction go towards hospitality management student scholarships and the hospitality management club, which is used to help send students to national conventions.

“It gives a hands-on learning experience, plus the proceeds that we make go right back to the students,” King said. “Every year, we put as much money to the bottom line as we can. We have about, I’d say an average of 85 to 90 percent profit – we don’t spend money, we make money.”

(Photo courtesy of Nancy King)
Travel and dining auction from 2019. (Photo courtesy of Nancy King)

Tickets are sold either individually or as a table. More information about tickets is available on the travel and dining auction website. Dinner is included with all tickets. Hannah Seck, graduate student in hospitality management and food lead, shared that the menu her group has chosen for the auction will include small bite snacks, desserts, a mashed potato bar and pork sliders.

Along with dinner, guests will have the opportunity to take part in the live and silent auctions, games and other activities.

“We’re gonna have a live auction as well as a silent auction and then once again, some packages and the raffles,” Jost said.

Many people coming to the auction are from cities like Wichita and Kansas City, and many have donated items from their businesses or local businesses.

“We have a lot of different prize items for fun games that are going on,” Jost said. “And we have a lot of really fun live auction items that we are really excited about as well … a lot of like weekend trips — like Kansas City, Oklahoma and different places.”

(Photo courtesy of Nancy King)
Travel and dining auction from 2019. (Photo courtesy of Nancy King)

King has been working with students on planning the travel and dining auction for the past 14 years and has enjoyed every auction through the ups and downs.

“There’s nothing better than to have the thrill of the event happening,” King said. “It goes so fast once you get in and go, it’s a blur, but you get this feeling through you of that accomplishment and of excitement.”

Those interested in the auction can see behind-the-scenes of the planning and sneak peeks of what is to come through the travel and dining auction social media accounts, as well as its webpage.

“Our hospitality management Instagram, as well as Facebook, has those posts [and] will constantly be posting different things about the auction as well as some previews of items and lots that we’re going to have,” Whitney said.

Applications will be released next school year for those interested in taking part in the planning of the 2023 auction.

“If you’re a student and want to get involved for next year, we have applications that go out during the fall semester, and then we will have interviews,” Madison Beemiller, sophomore in hospitality and games lead, said.