Bars are a natural place for people to gather. At the beginning of an event, people are more likely to roam around because you probably have activities for them in which they can participate. Once people have completed their bidding in the silent auction and have purchased their raffle ticket, the most likely spot for them to camp out is a high-top table near the bar.
Once your event has moved into the program phase, and the silent auction has concluded, guests do not have any reason to roam. Actually, we don’t want them to roam around the room. Ideally, we would like them to stay in their seat. Once you begin the fundraising portion of your event, guests who are not interested in the auction will be your most likely candidates to roam. The number one place they roam to is the bar. Then their friend roams back there too and they start having a conversation. Then a few more people go to the bar and stand off to the side and have a conversation. This pattern ripples through the crowd.
These side conversations create noise and distractions from your fundraising. To minimize this, shut the bars down during your fundraising component. Not for the rest of the night, only for the fundraising part. Communicate the bars will be closing to your guests ahead of time.
To help make this happen, put signs on the bar and a note in your program. Create a sign for each bartender to place on the bar that says “We will be back to serve you at the conclusion of the fundraising component of the event. You can expect us back at approximately [blank time].” This strategy will help to control crowd noise. It will also assist in keeping people in their seats allowing them to focus on your mission.