Magazine article Parks & Recreation

The Price of Convenience

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

The Price of Convenience

Article excerpt

Online registration software isn't necessarily cheap, but definitely helpful.

For those of you who offer online registration do you: Open up a pre-determined amount of spaces and allow the rest for walk-ins? Do online for a week and then walk-ins at a set date? What type of software do you use? These questions were recently posted from, Shrewsbury, Mass., and Houston, Texas, on NRPA's forum, eCommunities. For information on how to join the discussion, become a member by clicking on "Join Now" on the right-hand side of NRPA's Web site, www.nrpa.org. Here are some of the responses about the technological wonders of online registration:

"We just started using the online portion from Vermont Systems/RecTrac/WebTrae in April 2004. We started our summer registrations (the biggest registration we do) at 3 p.m. in the afternoon, and by the time we left the office at 4:30 p.m., we had 300 Web registrations. It is a real-time/live registration system that is integrated with our RecTrac Software. Saved a lot of time entering [data] and didn't have lines down the hall to register for programs."-Woodbury, Minn.

"Yes, we offer online. We allow online registration at 50 percent. Have not had any problems yet nor do we anticipate any. We do have Web Trac, but registrations online are very low." -Kentwood, Mich.

"We began 24/7 phone registration last winter, and live Web registration this fall, using the VSI product. We opened all forms of registration at 8 a.m. on a Thursday, and have done away with Saturday morning walk-ins. We have had very good success with the combined phone and Internet registrations plus walk-in, regular phone-in and fax. After the first three weeks of fall registration, about 25 percent of our registrations have been through the two new methods."-Fort Collins, Colo.

"We set the percentage for online registrations at 35, and begin accepting registrations of any method on the same date. Our software synchronizes our online and 'in-house' registrations on an hourly basis, always reconfiguring the openings so that 35 percent are online until only one space is left, which defaults to in-house. No problems experienced with overbooking due to the hourly upload/download. Using RecWare Satan.-Camp Hill, Pa.

"We offer online registration through RecWare Safari/ProActive (thru Active.com). Our 'limit' is set at 25 percent online of open registrations; the program allows us to set the figure. We offer online year-round, there is no set time that we do online versus walk-ins; it is just another option for people to register for our programs. The biggest deterrent we have found is our customers not wanting to pay the extra transaction fee charged by Active, com; most people indicated they will not use the service if they have to pay extra. So, starting with our fall classes, we are absorbing the convenience fee as a means to get more customers to use the service." -San Luis Obispo, Calif.

"We have, gone to online registration in the past nine months and debated this issue as well. We decided to treat it like the private sector does. Have you ever gone online and had to pay more? I don't think it is very customer friendly. We need to look at it as a cost of doing business. We have looked at a small, across-the-board increase for our programs to cover the costs of credit card fees, bank processing fees, etc. Otherwise, add a small percentage increase for these services when determining the price of your activities." -Columbia, Mo.

"My only comment would be that it may or may not be the way to go. …

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