Three cancelled flights and a 5-hour delay later, I finally arrived in Scottsdale for the 2018 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction. A predicted “dusting” of snow in North Carolina turned into five inches which then shut down the town and cancelled an array of flights. What a journey! Here’s a glimpse into my experience at WestWorld and a few things I learned along the way.
The Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale VIP Experience
7 am came quickly to say the least, but our breakfast at Whataburger helped get the day started on the right foot. Being from North Carolina, I was unaware of the amazingness that is Whataburger. I proceeded to eat it for three days straight. No shame.
Being on staff for Barrett-Jackson VIP Experiences required us to get there a couple of hours before the hospitality venues opened so that we could make sure everything was squared away. By 10 am, our VIP guests started to pile in. One of the great things about our venues is that we provide all your meals and beverages (yes, even beer and liquor) throughout the day. So as soon as our guests arrived, breakfast was already served. We had bagels with cream cheese, various pastries, yogurt parfaits and more. Even though I had already eaten breakfast, my mid-morning food cravings kicked in and I grabbed a bagel with cream cheese and a blueberry muffin. Hello, carbs!
If you’ve never been to a Barrett-Jackson auction, you’re in for a treat. You get to listen to an auctioneer talk nonstop for 12 hours! All jokes aside, it’s actually truly amazing and I will never understand how anyone can talk so fast and actually be speaking a legit language.
Our VIP guests in the Luxury Lounge began bidding on cars almost immediately. Within the first few hours, we had several guests win the cars they bid on. The Luxury Lounge is an ideal location at the auction because 1) it’s elevated 2) it oversees the entire arena 3) you have a prime view of the cars and the block 4) you can bid from the skybox thanks to our personal bidding assistant.
Let’s spend a minute talking about our bidding assistant, Patrick. For the record, he is awesome. Patrick spent most of his time in our skybox to help our guests bid on cars. The whistle blows, the flag is waved and before you know it you’ve just won the car of your dreams. It’s much more convenient than having to go down to the floor to bid. Although, as our packages show, you also get a reserved floor seat if you’re a registered bidder. So, take your pick!
The day goes on and much of it is the same. Cars are auctioned off, you bid on them, you eat and drink and have a great time.
Lunch was served around 11:30 am, followed by mid-afternoon snacks and then dinner around 5:30 pm. The meals varied and included everything from chicken pasta to beef tenderloin and mashed potatoes to club sandwiches to hotdogs and chips. Keep in mind, the arena is filled with all different food options and fair food, but you will find you may not even need any of that since the hospitality venues provide food.
So far, I have mentioned the Luxury Lounge skybox but now let’s move on to the Staging Lanes Hospitality Area. This space is located outside, which was especially nice on the 75 degrees days. Half of the area is covered by a tent; half is not. We also had heaters that we turned on when the sun went down and it got a little chilly. This venue is neat because it’s right next to the Staging Lanes, so you can see all of the cars pass by before they go up on the block. There’s also a DJ who keeps the party alive throughout the day.
What I’ve found is that the Staging Lanes Hospitality Area is a really fun environment for those just looking to enjoy the auction and have a good time. If you are a registered bidder and plan on buying a car or two or five, you would benefit more from the Luxury Lounge. You still have access to the Staging Lanes (not the Staging Lanes Hospitality, might I add), and can walk around to look at the cars about to go up on the block.
Speaking of the block, some of packages include an Auction Block Tour. What does that even mean? Most of our guests are already allowed up on the block, but the tour adds a little extra to the experience. Our tours for the Staging Lanes Hospitality were on Thursday and tours for the Luxury Lounge were on Friday. Our guests were split into groups. Tours ran on the hour with the first one starting at 11 am and the last one being at 2 pm.
Matt Ferguson, who works in Marketing for Barrett-Jackson, was our tour guide, for lack of a better term. Matt is extremely knowledgeable and engaging, so he made the tours really fun for our guests. The tour starts outside by the Staging Lanes and then moves up onto the block. Brad, our in-house photographer, snapped photos of our guests in front of the Barrett-Jackson logo before they met with Matt behind the block. Matt gave them a behind-the-scenes look at the auction and gave a brief overview of how everything works and falls into place. The tour lasted about 20-30 minutes – during and afterwards, our guests were able to ask any and all questions they had!
What I found with the auction is that every day has pretty much the same rhythm. The automobilia auction kicks off the day, followed by the collector car auction. Hospitality opens at 10 am and closes at 7 pm for the Staging Lanes and 10 pm for the Luxury Lounge. You spend the day walking around, looking at cars, bidding on cars, eating and drinking until your heart’s content, mingling with other car enthusiasts, and so on. It’s interesting because I talked to several people who don’t even really love cars and they had such a great time. Don’t be fooled. Barrett-Jackson isn’t just for people who are obsessed with all things cars – it’s fun for the entire family!
I may be biased but I do believe the VIP Packages are worth it. A general admission ticket won’t give you anywhere close to this kind of experience. I wouldn’t exactly call myself a car enthusiast, but I found myself really enjoying the auction and my time in our hospitality suites. Our furniture was brand new this year, so that was an added bonus! I spent most of my time in the Luxury Lounge and found the atmosphere very pleasant and accommodating. Plus, everyone I talked to was insanely nice, which made my time at the auction even more wonderful.
Overall, I give the experience 5 stars! It was exhausting, but I had a great time and it’s one of my favorite events that I have attended thus far.
Things I Learned & Tips for Next Year
-If you buy a Luxury Lounge package, know that it is located on the top floor of the skybox at the back of the arena, directly above the Muscle Lounge. If security tries to put you in the Muscle Lounge, they are wrong.
-Make sure you register to bid by Tuesday of that week to ensure you get an assigned seat on the floor. If you are unsure of where you seat is located, ask a Barrett-Jackson VIP rep in your hospitality venue.
-Look at your schedule in advance to know when your tour time is. We try to go around and gather everyone up for the tour, but there is always a chance we may miss someone. If you miss your tour, ask if you can join another group.
-Security may not know everything about the Barrett-Jackson VIP program. What they will ask for is your ticket to the hospitality venue and then they will give you a wristband. This wristband will give you access throughout the day. If you have further questions about the experience, find the Barrett-Jackson VIP staff located in your venue.
-Drink plenty of water and bring chapstick. You are going to need it.
-Shop the merchandise tents early! They may run out of your size.
-Spend time walking around. WestWorld is huge and there is so much to see.
-Try Whataburger while you’re in town. Don’t worry I am not a rep for Whataburger. I have just never tasted something so glorious. Go for the Honey Chicken Biscuit with Hash Browns for breakfast and the Patty Melt with French Fries for lunch or dinner.