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Beantown Stomp: Handling Registrations

February 28th, 2019
contra, beantownstomp  [html]
Now that Beantown Stomp has sold out and we're on to a wait list, I wanted to quickly document how I've been handling registration. It's not perfect, but it works decently well.

People register by filling out a Google Form at beantownstomp.com/register which then drops their answers into a spreadsheet. I have the form configured to send me notification emails when people register, and I handle these about once a day.

For each new registration I would first look over it to see if there was anything I needed to ask them about. Maybe they asked a question in the comments field, forgot to fill in an important question, etc. If I wasn't on safety team I would need some way of coordinating with them, either giving them a chance to flag names or getting a list of flagged names in advance. Then I'd manually send an email like:

Subject: Beantown Stomp Registration Confirmation

Hi FIRSTNAME,

Thanks for registering for Beantown Stomp!

I have you down as being up for paying $95, is that correct? If so, would you be able to pay either by:

  1. Paypal to jeff@alum.swarthmore.edu

  2. Mailing a check to: MYADDRESS

Thanks!

Jeff

I added more columns to the spreadsheet to handle tracking the state of the registration. All of these are blank by default, and many are blank for most rows:

  • Confirmed: the number of confirmed registrations this row includes.

  • Performers: the number of performers this row includes.

  • Contact date: the date I first emailed them about their registration.

  • Paid date: the day they paid.

  • Paid amount: how much they paid.

  • Volunteering: 1 if they're volunteering.

  • Open: the number of people admitted people who haven't confirmed yet.

  • Part Weekend: 1 if they're only attending part of the weekend.

  • Waitlist: their position on the waitlist

  • Friday / Saturday pre-dinner / Saturday post-dinner / Sunday: one column each for tracking part-weekend registrations.

In handling these, filter views to restrict the sheet to just rows in a certain category are very useful.

People often paid right away, but some needed to be poked a few times. Others needed some time to verify they could actually come, or were waiting to learn when something else would be scheduled. I didn't push people very hard until we sold out, at which point I let them know that I needed a decision.

I was, and am, happy to take part weekend registrations when people asked for them. Much better than someone just attending part of the weekend without letting me know I can open up the other part(s) of their ticket!

Once I received payment I would reply to them and let them know they were confirmed.

When we sold out I started sending emails like:

Subject: Beantown Stomp Wait List

Hi FIRSTNAME,

Beantown Stomp is now at capacity. You're #N on the wait list, and we'll get back to you if space opens up.

Jeff

Then if something opened up with I'd reply with:

Hi FIRSTNAME,

A spot has opened up; would you like it?

[rest of normal acceptance email follows]

If someone indicated they were looking for childcare they got an email like:

Subject: Childcare at Beantown Stomp

Hi FIRSTNAME,

I'm sorting out childcare for Beantown Stomp and I wanted to check in with you both to let you know how we're planning on running it and to get a bit more information on your kids and what you're looking for from us.

The schedule for the weekend, www.beantownstomp.com/#schedule now shows when childcare is available. Julia Wise (parent of two, has worked as a nanny and in a daycare) and Daniel Friedman (has worked in childcare for several families in the contra community) will be watching the kids, possibly with another person if there are enough kids to warrant that.

We're planning to set aside an area just outside the dance hall for childcare, cordoning it off with chairs. We'll bring books and toys, but if you have ones to bring that would be great to add!

We'll have an area for napping that is moderately less chaotic, if you want to bring as pack-and-play.

Some things it would be useful to know for each child:

  • Name and age?
  • Medical needs we should be aware of?
  • Food needs or allergies? Should we do snacks with your kid?
  • Will they be with us the whole time? If not, when?
  • Are they potty trained?
  • What do you do for naps?
  • Other things we should know?

Jeff

I then would manually populate a spreadsheet based on their responses. Columns were:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Food / medical
  • Naps
  • Diapers
  • Parents: parents names
  • Notes
  • Times: one column for each session we were offering care for, so I could figure out how many kids we'd have and plan how many adults we'd need.

Running all of this out of my email made things a lot easier. When I wanted to follow-up with someone I would just search for their address, find the thread, read back for any context so I didn't ask for things they'd already given me, and send the email. This isn't so big an event as to need multiple people handling registration or automation beyond the initial spreadsheet populating, and as a one-off thing it's ok for it to be dependent on a single person.

It's probably an average of five minutes per registration, with some ones being easier than others. This comes to about 14hr in many small chunks. If we do this again this can be a delegated role, now that I understand it better.

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