March 14, 2006 at 10:35 pm #58535
I’ve been mentioning this on and off so here’s where I write down all the details I can think of.
After the Shelbyville rally I thought there MUST be a better way to manage information on the people at the rally. The awards were pretty bizarre and at closing we had no idea how many people had showed up. So I thought about it some more and decided that record-keeping was going to be an all-or-nothing deal. If we use a database to track rallygoers, it might as well to as much for us as possible. So basically I’m proposing that we keep (and maintain right up until registration ends) a database which has a record for everyone at the rally. Here are some ways this could be implemented and used.
First let me say that I’m sure this would cost more time this year than it will save. This would be an investment in our rally process.
We’d need to ‘serialize’ people entering the rally. This would be most useful if a person’s rally number meant something, so that means either numbered wristbands (I think this is the way to go) or numbered tickets. With numbered wristbands, that number would be the drawing number for the grand prize(s). By requiring the wristband to still be worn, we could keep people from ‘winning by proxy.’ If we want, we could electronically draw the smaller tickets as well. Lost or broken wristbands would be easy to replace in the system by issuing a different number and nullifying the old one against further use.
Everyone needs to get a number assigned and Registration would be the time for that. Preregs (preregistered attendees) be looked up by name, sign the waiver, get a wristband & rally pack and be on their way. The staff would simply record the wristband number in the database.
Walk-ins would be similar except their information would have to be entered on the spot. I don’t think it’s so daunting; store clerks handle this sort of stuff all the time. I would like to see a “self-serve” line where the computer-savvy could enter their own info and then staff would issue the wristband and record the number. Some people will want it all to be done for them; so be it.
The third option that could take a lot of work away from the staff is pre-entry. I think this has real merit. People would be able to go online and pre-enter their registration info without committing to come to the rally. When they show up, they are handled just like a pre-reg except they have to pay. I think a lot of people would rather fill out their registration form from home and it could really speed up the registration process on-site.
I’m not the expert here. I think it could be done with a half dozen PCs. Some of them are manned by volunteers with a second display facing the customer. The rest are self-serve with a second monitor and keyboard facing the customer with a KVM switch. When the information is complete, a volunteeer walks over, flips the switch, enters the wristband number and the data entry is done. Heck, maybe all of them are set up as self-serve and the volunteers just go wherever assistance is needed.
As painful as it sounds, I think award information should be handled on the spot. A few drop-down boxes for gender, bike ridden, miles and age don’t add that much. To balance it out, I think the information we collect on anyone should be minimal and we should ask ourselves “why do we need this information?” for every single data field. Is there a compelling reason to ask for the address? Heck, a concert or a race isn’t entirely unlike a rally and one doesn’t even need a real name.
1) Getting the preregs into a useful database, since the shopping cart may not give us what we need. However, the information has to be exported somehow so it might as well be into a database.
2) making sure everyone pays. I don’t know if creditcard processing could be integrated.
Done right, registration could become a very efficient process.
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