New Hut Meet Booking System Proposal for AGM Vote

General discussion about anything not covered above.

New Hut Meet Booking System Proposal for AGM Vote

Postby Kharrison23 » Thu Dec 12, 2019 1:45 pm

So, the committee is proposing to introduce a new booking system in a bid to make our hut meets booking system more approachable and accountable. Below I have provided the bones of the system, the technical details are not really relevant at this stage. This is your opportunity to ask questions, provide your thoughts, following this it will be put to a vote at the AGM in January.

The vote will be: Do we develop the new booking system hut meets going forward?

Outline

- 1 month before a hut meet, booking opens on the website
- A member can express an interest in the meet by logging in to the members area
- Once interest is registered, that member must then ensure that the club is paid regardless of whether they attend the meet or not
- Whilst people have not paid for a place they can’t book onto any other meets
- Aspirant or unpaid members will not be able to book on to a meet until they have paid their subs.
- We hope to have this up and running in time for the 2020 Summer bash hut booking (June)
- Lots of information will be provided about how it will all work

FAQs
Q. I don’t like change; can I continue with the old system?
A. Yes, you can still use the old booking system i.e. send a cheque to the meet leader, the meet leader will be able to register interest on your behalf and will confirm you have paid via cheque.

Q. What happens if I am booked onto a meet, haven’t paid and then another hut booking opens?

A. You greedy thing! You haven’t paid! Pay up! Once you have paid by either bank transfer, paypal or sent a cheque, inform the meet leader, treasurer and/or a committee member who will be able to log the payment and you can book on another meet.

Q. I think this is an amazing idea, how should I show my appreciation to such a forward-thinking committee for implementing?
A. You are far too kind, and it is not necessary to send gifts, however if you want to show appreciation, thank Luke by buying him a pint (as he is the one doing all the website work). Oh, and and go on lots of hut meets!

Example
Hut booking opens for K-Shoes, a 26 person meet
Everyone knows how important this meet is. Andy, as meet leader, receives five cheques (which have been written with quills and smell of burnt whale fat) in the post on the day booking opens, a further 22 people register interest on the LMC website on the same day.

Andy registers the interest of the five cheque submitters. A ballot is carried out by the fancy LMC website and 26 places are allocated. Lisa didn’t make the cut and has been put on the reserve list along with Luke whose cheque arrived two days later.

All 26 people who made it onto the meet will receive a notification that they must now pay for the meet by either cheque, bank transfer or paypal. John (one of the attendees) has paid by bank transfer.

Shortly before the meet John drops out, Lisa receives a notification that his place is hers should she wish it, however in her bitterness she has made other plans, and declines. The place is then offered to Luke, whom has nothing better to do, he accepts and goes on the meet. He now must pay for the meet. John is refunded the fees.

Meanwhile during the period between booking opening for Kshoes and the meet itself, booking has opened for the first Scottish Hut Meet two weeks after K- Shoes (Mill Cottage). Will who was allocated a place on the K -Shoes meet hasn’t paid up, as such when the booking opens for Mill Cottage, Will is not able to express interest, he receives a notification that he is a cheap b**********. He pays by bank transfer tells a member of the committee who logs his payment, unfortunately the meet has subsequently filled, and he is given a reserve place. Moral of the story, don’t be Will, PAY UP QUICK!

3 months later (or an acceptable time period decided by the committee), it is apparent that Luke still hasn’t paid for K-shoes. Obviously, he hasn’t been able to attend any meets since. He has been getting regular email notifications and pressure from committee members to pay up. What a ****, as such the committee decided he is not really the right person for the club, his LMC t-shirt is torn from his body and rotten fruit is hurled at him. Moral of the story, don’t be Luke, PAY UP QUICK!
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Re: New Hut Meet Booking System Proposal for AGM Vote

Postby Dave C » Thu Dec 12, 2019 3:43 pm

Is the Meet Leader still allowed to give Claire and Paul nicknames that they won't like?
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Re: New Hut Meet Booking System Proposal for AGM Vote

Postby Dave C » Thu Dec 12, 2019 3:53 pm

I don't think you should be allowed to attend a meet without having first paid for it.

Otherwise you are adding the new problem of needing to chase up people for money after the meet - which isn't a problem at the moment.
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Re: New Hut Meet Booking System Proposal for AGM Vote

Postby Ian Ashman » Thu Dec 12, 2019 5:24 pm

I agree with outline. I would go one step further though and make it totally electronic. Book your place online and settle electronically. If you are booked on you must pay before the meet. Sending letters and cheques is pretty inefficient and adds lots of unnecessary non value activity and effort. Greta Thunburg will be delighted with less post vans flying around and less trip to the bank. If you can't subsequently go on the meet you can pull out if there is a reserve list or you can find a replacement (other wise you must pay). Given it sounds like you need Luke to help deliver this I would be careful on being too rude to him.

Well done for picking this up. Much overdue.
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Re: New Hut Meet Booking System Proposal for AGM Vote

Postby Mountaineer » Thu Dec 12, 2019 6:14 pm

some times people on a meet plan to drive up together/walk together ; if Lucy Locket and Leo Locket both want to go on a meet but only Leo is drawn in the ballot what would happen when he withdraws? There is only Lucy to fill that place but does not wish to go without Leo. The letter system allows people to "join" the group as a pair. The internet will not.

Paul
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Re: New Hut Meet Booking System Proposal for AGM Vote

Postby CathS » Fri Dec 13, 2019 12:14 am

Hi Karl

Thanks for sharing this proposal and inviting feedback.

Although I think the current system generally works reasonably well, I’m supportive of the idea of enabling on-line booking and payment for hut meets, as this should make it easier for some people (particularly new members) to book on meets, and as Ian says, reduce the carbon footprint.

However, I think the system proposed sounds very complicated. It could take up a lot of someone’s time to cross-check whether or not each potential attendee has paid up for previous meets, and chase people for payment. Who is it proposed would be responsible for doing this? It doesn’t sound like something that a Meet Leader could easily do, as they would need oversight of all the bookings and payments, and from my previous role on the Committee, I know that both the Meets Secretary and Treasurer roles already take up a lot of time and commitment. Would it be viable for them to take on even more work?

I also definitely think people should pay up before they attend a meet. Otherwise there is a risk of people who are just dipping into the club or who rarely attend meets not paying up afterwards, and there being no real incentive for them to do so. This could then become a nightmare trying to chase up outstanding payments.

Also I think that without making a financial commitment upfront, people are more likely to speculatively ‘express an interest’, but then ultimately decide, possibly last minute, not go on the meet (e.g. if they don’t like the look of the weather). Again someone will then have to chase them for payment. On popular meets this might also hold places until the last minute and prevent these being taken by others who might have been happy to commit payment from the outset.

I can’t really think of any situation elsewhere where you would book and use accommodation, but not be expected to pay up until after your stay. I think it puts quite a financial risk on the club.

The current system is quite simple in that the place is only booked once you’ve paid up, the administration is largely delegated to the Meet Leader, and no chasing up of individuals for payment is needed. You’ve either paid up and you’re on the meet, or you’re not. Can’t this just simply be extended to include online as well as cheque or cash payments?

If you are going to change the system to ‘book first, pay later’, at the very least there should be a time limit set within which people must pay up to secure the place. E.g. within 14 days of registering interest, or before the date of the meet, whichever is soonest - otherwise their place is cancelled. However, I’m still not convinced this would offer any benefits over the up-front payment approach, and would still involve more checking.

I’ll be interested to hear more detail of how you propose to manage this system anyway. Do I get a postal vote if I can’t attend the AGM?
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Re: New Hut Meet Booking System Proposal for AGM Vote

Postby Kharrison23 » Fri Dec 13, 2019 7:46 am

Great discussion everyone, thank you for taking the time to comment on the issue.

Anymore opinions on the topic?

Planning to respond to comments next week and then again in early January (where we will discuss proxy/distance voting. The proposal will be more detailed before it is put to a vote.

Regards,
Karl
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Re: New Hut Meet Booking System Proposal for AGM Vote

Postby Tom_J » Fri Dec 13, 2019 8:44 am

I concur with Ian, if we are going to adopt an alternative approach, we should commit to it fully. A half-way house, where people can still use the current system if they wish, has the potential to create extra work for the meet leader and extra scope for getting things wrong, when the intention should be to make things streamlined and robust. Currently, most people will log in to the bulletin board to access the private section and get the meet leader's address, it is only a small change to ask people to log in to the bulletin board and send an electronic expression of interest instead, so no need to keep the current system running in parallel. The vast majority of people are comfortable with electronic payment.

Regarding payment. I can see what you are trying to do, and I think it makes sense to only require payment after a place has been allocated to you. However, I think you need a tighter protocol, with a fixed timeframe to pay as Cath suggests, something along the lines of:
1. A member makes an expression of interest
2. Member given a provisional place on the meet
3. Member then has a fixed time frame in which to pay (48hrs, or perhaps 5 days [14 days probably too long], which would relate to when a member expressed interest, not when meet booking opened) to confirm their place.

If the member doesn't pay within the time frame then their provisional place lapses and is made available to other members of the club. This would prevent people going on meets without paying, make it very clear what a member has to do to secure a place, and minimise extra work for the meet leader, treasurer etc. chasing people up. I think a well designed system would be able to handle much of this automatically. It is how quite a lot of booking systems work.

The alternative, of paying at the point you express interest in a meet feels like a backwards step. If you have lots of people paying at point of interest for a popular meet for which there are more applicants than spaces, not everyone will get a place and the club will have to deal with refunds. Again more scope for getting things wrong, scope for irritating people. I personally would be less likely to express an interest in popular meets where I wasn't certain I would get a space if I had to pay upfront.

Tom
Last edited by Tom_J on Fri Dec 13, 2019 9:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New Hut Meet Booking System Proposal for AGM Vote

Postby Marq » Fri Dec 13, 2019 8:57 am

The joys of trying to update the process! I've spent many an hour discussing with Dave on the topic.

  1. I would say that a mixed system (postal and online) wouldn't work as someone needs to reconcile. If going online go the whole hog as per Ian's comment earlier.
  2. There are quite a few people on meets who make joint bookings which any system would need to cater for
  3. If you are on the reserve then there is a high possibility that if you go on the meet you won't pay before going on the meet as it may be very last minute before you get the nod there is a space. This would require a chase up / reminder afterwards, more hassle for the treasurer?
  4. Alternatively, if you've paid but was on the reserve list (you paid so you didn't forget and were uber hopeful you would get a place) and don't get a spot then the treasurer needs to sort out the refund - both actual and the extra hassle with the accounts
  5. I understood the policy was no refunds if you can't make a meet unless an appeal has been made to the committee
  6. System appears to increase load on people that can access the club accounts online, which I understood at last count was only the treasurer
  7. Is the online payment done via BACS and personal accounts? If so then you have only a few characters in the reference for the treasurer to identify the payee and the meet which the payment is for which could lead to confusion
  8. How do other clubs manage the process?

Marq
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Re: New Hut Meet Booking System Proposal for AGM Vote

Postby Dave C » Fri Dec 13, 2019 9:20 am

Whilst I am not suggesting that we keep using cheques, I do think that the discussion highlights the usefulness of cheques as a deferred payment method.

Cheques are a commitment to pay, with the provision to return them if there aren't enough places. They are not normally cashed until after the meet, again allowing for them to be returned in special circumstances.

I'm not keen on a multi-stage process of "expression of interest" followed by a payment window (and potential drop out period).
It seems to be complicating a system that works adequately.

I think it would be good if we could replicate the commitment to pay at a later date (cheques) with a more convenient alternative.
I'm not sure how you'd automate this though without creating some kind of online ticketing shop.

I am also concerned that we may end up complicating the booking system in order to simplify the payment method.

Is it possible to have an online booking system which just requires you to click a "book" button? Then fill out payment details and confirm a commitment to pay. Agreeing that payment will not be taken (automatically) until after the meet.
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Re: New Hut Meet Booking System Proposal for AGM Vote

Postby CathS » Fri Dec 13, 2019 10:48 am

With BACS payment you can specify the date of payment as a later date, although I don't know whether once you've instructed a payment it can subsequently be cancelled prior to the date of payment (I've never had to do that).
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Re: New Hut Meet Booking System Proposal for AGM Vote

Postby Will S » Fri Dec 13, 2019 12:41 pm

I've had a couple of responses from other clubs on UKC. https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/the_pub/booking_system_for_club_hut_meets-713567

One promising system looks like GoCardless.

It can work as a promise to pay that you explained Dave, exactly like a cheque. When you book a place you fill in your bank details as if for a direct debit. Then after the meet only those who attended or said they would attend but didn't, without their place being filled are actually charged.

It looks like the fee for us would be around 40p per payment. (1% + 20p)

It looks like no more work for the treasurer/meet leader than taking cheques to the bank.

The member of Surbiton and Kingston MC who use it seems to be positive about it but his once concern is that it doesn't seem like the most secure system? maybe someone with more knowledge could have a look at it?

Luke I'm not sure how this could be integrated with the website?

Will
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Re: New Hut Meet Booking System Proposal for AGM Vote

Postby Ian Ashman » Fri Dec 13, 2019 1:58 pm

Dave C wrote:
Is it possible to have an online booking system which just requires you to click a "book" button? Then fill out payment details and confirm a commitment to pay. Agreeing that payment will not be taken (automatically) until after the meet.


Dave/Karl (or Luke)
Just to add to the IT shopping list, it would be good if above proposed process could also be linked to an online booking 'look up' that could check the membership database to check applicant is a valid member at time of booking to ensure they meet the defined club rules. This would free the souls of LMC members who currently have to do this manually.
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Re: New Hut Meet Booking System Proposal for AGM Vote

Postby Kharrison23 » Fri Jan 17, 2020 1:58 pm

Anymore opinions on this matter?

They would be gratefully received now, less gratefully received at the AGM.
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Re: New Hut Meet Booking System Proposal for AGM Vote

Postby Dave C » Sat Jan 18, 2020 12:03 am

I've just re-read the original outline proposal. It seems reasonable, assuming that system is fully automated.

I don't think I'd understood when I first read the proposal that booking was made by logging into the website members' page rather than on a forum page.

Kharrison23 wrote:Outline
- 1 month before a hut meet, booking opens on the website
- A member can express an interest in the meet by logging in to the members area
- Once interest is registered, that member must then ensure that the club is paid regardless of whether they attend the meet or not
- Whilst people have not paid for a place they can’t book onto any other meets
- Aspirant or unpaid members will not be able to book on to a meet until they have paid their subs.
- We hope to have this up and running in time for the 2020 Summer bash hut booking (June)
- Lots of information will be provided about how it will all work


It might be good if we could integrate an option for some sort of automated collection of the booking fees - perhaps GoCardless as Will mentioned or something similar. Although maybe that feature could be added later?
Last edited by Dave C on Sat Jan 18, 2020 12:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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