Winning the Accessibility Game

Devin Meister

May 1, 2024

Waitlists and lotteries support DEI at park programs and camps.

How and when we offer signups and registration for our most in-demand offerings play an outsized role in who participates. In a perfect world, we’d just add more capacity to our offerings. All kinds of reasons and resources make that an impossibility – from time to labor to space. That means that we have to make the processes for accepting participants into programs equitable for all, technology makes it not only possible, but easy.

Old Manual Ways are Out

That rules out in-person signups which put many at a disadvantage. The same applies to many “starting gate” signups that open a virtual door at a set time as the entire community tries to push through. On the other side of those coins, it’s also not the best use of your staff’s time. In-person registrations pull them away from other tasks for the community. Sudden rushes of web traffic can be equally frustrating on both sides of the desk.

New Ways Forward

Because it is an issue that has such broad implications, technology has been created to ensure the registration process is as equitable and seamless as possible. We’ll look at two of the most prominent ways here and their specific use cases; waitlists and lotteries.

Waitlist

Waitlist Automation is a “set it and forget it” feature that can be a great time saver for all parties involved. In the Vermont Systems RecTrac example for instance, any patron previously added to the Activity Section wait list is automatically sent an enrollment offer when appropriate in numeric order based on their waitlist number. Offers are sent until all available slots are filled or until a predetermined end date. This process greatly reduces the staff hours required to manually track, manage, and enroll patrons.

Lotteries

A lottery registration option is useful for popular activities where more people wish to register than you have room for enrollment. Lottery enrollments allow you to register patrons for activities and then select who is enrolled through a random assignment process (the Lottery Spin) rather than on a first-come, first-served basis.

In the Vermont Systems RecTrac example, departments can process two different types of lotteries: Multi-Choice and Single Section.

  • Multi-Choice lotteries are designed for use with summer camp registrations and other large-scale lotteries where programs are high in demand. When lottery participants sign up, they choose their 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. choice programs. If there is more than one participant in a household, those participants can choose to enter the lottery together, where participants share a lottery number, or individuall, where each participant has their own lottery number. The Lottery Spin allows participants to win only once per lottery group.
  • Single Section lotteries are designed for use in the special recreation community and with small-scale lotteries where filling open enrollment slots is the primary goal. Lottery participants sign up Section by Section. They do not choose 2nd, 3rd, or any additional choices, and cannot participate in Linked Enrollments. The Lottery Spin allows participants to win as many times as they are randomly drawn!

Create a Great – and Equitable – Experience

Waitlist and lotteries are two great options to minimize the frustrations and pressure of registrations. They can eliminate patrons hovering over their computers continuously refreshing their browser while lifting many manual tasks (and hours) off your department. It’s so easy in fact that it can be used anywhere supply exceeds demand. One department uses it for their annual tree sales, another for access to their ceramic’s studio. Multiple organizations use it to allocate space on their senior outings. And here at Vermont Systems we might or might not have used it to determine the foursome for an upcoming golf outing.

Vermont Systems Customers – Helpjuice is packed with a hosts of videos and helpful articles about waitlist, lotteries and more.

 

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