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Eurofurence 25 "Fractures in Time" - Estrel Hotel Berlin, August 14-18, 2019Follow eurofurence on Twitter

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Author Topic: Booking system proposals.  (Read 3141 times)

Kulze

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Booking system proposals.
« on: 17.01.2017, 18:02:16 »

While I know this might be a problematic topic at the moment as many people (me included) are more then unhappy about it, I thought about several ideas for future improvements about it.

This year was a disaster, noone will argue about that, either people were unhappy about not getting a room, which there simply aren't enough and we can't do anything about anyway. Or more likely infuriated about the booking site being overloaded, resulting in very long waiting times to book, at times were either people are at work, or for americans being sleeping time still.

While in my perspective it is absolutely ok to miss out on a room if you're late to the party, it's absolutely not if you're on time and the system simply never lets you book, resulting in many people getting a room by a lucky chance which came later for instance, leading it to being nothing less then a lottery.

So as suggestions:

With the limited amount of rooms there definitely should be a system which prioritizes different people. The staff having a room at the con hotel goes without saying, as they simply need one to be at the place for the duration of the con.

People with special needs of some kind should also be prioritized, sitting in a wheelchair or similar cases are simply unable to move towards the convention in a timely matter otherwise, making them often miss out on the experience if there is no room at the main hotel.

The solutions about such a prioritization system for everyone else could either be by registration number, that would put a strong burden onto the registration system for the conticket again, a thing which might not be good, even with it being more stable then ever, that would probably chance as people frantically click to make it happen. It is a solution and definitely possible.

Personally I would suggest one of the two following ones:

Prioritize super sponsors and sponsors for getting a hotel room, opening booking a few days after the due payments would stop the burden on the registration system, as well as giving people an incentive to pay more and keep the con growing and healthy. Basically creating a unique code for every person to stop them giving theirs out, and this code opens their option to book. On the first day all super sponsors are given one such code, and the second day all sponsors, and if rooms are still open then normal congoers.
Yes, I am aware of the fact that not everyone can pay enough to go sponsor or supersponsor, but seeing the situation at hand, it is a far better solution then what we had this year.

Another option would be to prioritize reoccuring congoers, giving them a sort of thanks for coming every year again. The more years someone has attended the convention, the earlier he gets the chance to book. While this hinders first year con goers for getting a room in the main hotel, it would also be a viable solution to the problem at hand.


Those ideas are definitely nothing which is perfect, but seeing the problem of this year, as well as already having lost the chance to meet some friends at the convention because they are pissed about what had happened, refraining from going to it this year, I think it is far better to finally - sadly since seemingly needed - put in a prioritizing system. It definitely is a bad thing for the reputation of the convention if those things should reoccur, and while neither the Estrel, nor the staff could do anything about it, it won't stop people blaming them anyway.
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MartinRJ

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Re: Booking system proposals.
« Reply #1 on: 17.01.2017, 18:19:47 »

I disagree.
Noone should have to pay more to secure a room.
That leads to an older, "elite" audience (people who are still studying or in school, can't afford to pay so much, while older, wealthy people who have good jobs, can easily afford to buy a super-sponsor upgrade).
And all the interested, younger furries would have to stay somewhere else.
That's simply not fair, and most likely not what the majority of the Eurofurence-visitors would want.
'nuff said.
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Vector

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Re: Booking system proposals.
« Reply #2 on: 17.01.2017, 18:46:25 »

That's simply not fair, and most likely not what the majority of the Eurofurence-visitors would want.

I agree.
Even if I go/fursuit to Eurofurence almost every year since 9 years now, I don't see why I should get priority on anyone else.
If I can't attend this year that's ok.

But I NEVER want again to waste 6 hours trying to register on phone/computer for getting nothing in the end. If the same booking system is planned for the next years, I'll never return to EF.
« Last Edit: 17.01.2017, 18:48:37 by Vector »
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Nathalias

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Re: Booking system proposals.
« Reply #3 on: 17.01.2017, 19:26:40 »

But I NEVER want again to waste 6 hours trying to register on phone/computer for getting nothing in the end. If the same booking system is planned for the next years, I'll never return to EF.

Yep... I also wasted 6 hours for nothing. But the idea of this years system was ok. The Problem was that the booking service provider couldn't handle it. To make it worse they shut down the main link but you could still book via the mobile site... a lottery for the room would have been more fair.

I'm a Sponsor but I don't want to get priority that way. I don't think that would be right.

I hope they can get a better provider next year (or they can sort out their problems). For this year I hope I can get a room via the waiting list or I have to stay at a another hotel... won't be that much fun but I will go.

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Kulze

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Re: Booking system proposals.
« Reply #4 on: 17.01.2017, 21:36:39 »

Therefore the idea of making it by recurring visitors as another solution. While getting priority to those paying more is mostly cringed upon (understandable definitely) it is still a more then valid system for such a huge event as the eurofurence. It costs a LOT to get the convention going, and even a lot more of dedicated time and sweat for those involved in it after all.

I'm curious to hear the thoughts about the repeating visitors idea thought, as it wasn't mentioned yet.

On another part: it will never be fully fair or perfect, someones always going to complain and hopefully next year the booking website will be able to process it properly. The first year for everyone working with furries is always an 'experience' as we are as passive about our conventions as normally only big events like concerts are. So the big question still is: What would be a viable, fair and doable solution to keep these years problems from arising again?
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Nathalias

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Re: Booking system proposals.
« Reply #5 on: 17.01.2017, 22:56:46 »

My suggestion would be to use the same system but with a booking provider who can handle it ;-)
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Sam T. Housecat

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Re: Booking system proposals.
« Reply #6 on: 19.01.2017, 14:55:32 »

Thanks for starting this topic! I firmly agree that we have to try to come up with some suggestions that can improve the reservation experience.

Putting people in batches is one way to deal with it; I launched some suggestions in that direction in a few threats. I came up with just an idea to start a debate: what about giving fursuiters a priority? There was some discussion and good arguments for and against were given.
Let me just make clear, to avoid any misunderstanding, that I'm concerned with keeping equipment at a safe place and reducing the requirement to carry heavy stuff around. I don't even have a fursuit myself. I believe that fursuiting is a nice way to express your furriness, just as there are a lot of other nice ways to do so that count as equal IMHO.

Giving the staff early access to rooms and secondly giving people with disabilities a special chance has hardly been criticized and seems fair to most.

I think we need 'meta-criteria' for making criteria to put furs in batches. Meta-criteria could be:
  • Simple; yes/ no questions or 'how much' questions; complex queries will put a burden on either the con org or the hotel.
  • Reasonable, adequate and fair: the criterion needs to be widely accepted and people need to agree that it serves a good cause in a good way.
  • Controllable, so fraud can be prevented to some extent.
The sponsor criterion meets the requirement of simplicity and controllability. To the requirement of fairness, there can be some debate. I think that it's reasonable if the sponsor fee is fairly low, so that even poor furs can save money for it.
There may be a hard to predict but generally positive effect that people will massively sponsor. In that case, the standard con fee for non-sponsors can be reduced in the future to compensate for excess funding.

I'm not sure about giving priority to regular guests. I believe that influx of new people is vital for any community. I would prefer a system that mixes groups and encourages new relations. Therefore, I would regard recurrence as a somewhat inadequate criterion.

I concluded the fursuiting debate with an alternative criterion that seems to require simplicity and fairness, especially from a logistical point of view: make an estimate of the weight of your stuff and how much carrying around is needed. This will give an advantage to dealers and people who work with heavy stuff. I think it makes sense to put them close to the con site, even close to their place of performance. Possibly some fursuiters do meet this criterion.
I admit that controllability is less obvious on this one. Either we trust each other, or we could check people's estimates by having some random checks to discourage fraud.
« Last Edit: 19.01.2017, 14:57:49 by Sam T. Housecat »
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Hai λ

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Re: Booking system proposals.
« Reply #7 on: 19.01.2017, 15:53:27 »

So much work for so little gain. Such an investment of resources is unrealistic considering how much work already has to be done for the convention's content itself.
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Sam T. Housecat

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Re: Booking system proposals.
« Reply #8 on: 20.01.2017, 13:14:50 »

So much work for so little gain. Such an investment of resources is unrealistic considering how much work already has to be done for the convention's content itself.
Then I would like to ask you: what is your opinion about the booking process as it happened last week? Do you consider this to be the standard as it should be maintained for the next conventions? Do you think it's good as it is and should be accepted in this way by the con goers?
If you think that it can be improved, what kind of improvements would you suggest? What should be done differently next time? I would appreciate it if you would describe concrete options.
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Hai λ

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Re: Booking system proposals.
« Reply #9 on: 20.01.2017, 14:04:59 »

I would personally like to see it happen like this in future:
- the booking system capacity having been upgraded appropriately so that the portal radiates a responsiveness that makes everyone feel safe about it for a reason, and hence stops people from refreshing and using multiple windows to get their stuff done; then it is as close to a lottery as we can practically get
- people staying at alternative locations actively teaming up and organizing to travel back and forth together - while we can't pull off negotiating with other hotels at this point, a bit of unity like that could bring some calm, and forums like this are a good platform to meet and form such groups
- people posting about their ways to deal with fursuit storage and the like when they stay at alternative locations; in the German furbase forum, there's discussion about active cooperation of on-site hotel guests providing storage space and means to wind down during the day for their peers staying at alternative locations

That's as far as the room arbitration goes. What comes after, the convention content itself, is a weight we must all lift together... and that works way better without vocal people being rude to EF and hotel staff. :)
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Zefiro

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Re: Booking system proposals.
« Reply #10 on: 20.01.2017, 17:59:07 »

Then I would like to ask you: what is your opinion about the booking process as it happened last week?
You know that feeling when you plan, you prepare, you think of possible scenarios, weighting their outcome, do everything the best you can. And you realize this is too big for one person, so you need help, and discuss, and trust, and now have to rely on others. And then it didn't work out and everything just crumbles down? Yes, that happens, and I'm sure many have experienced such already themselves. Obviously nobody is happy with that, and of course investigations are done, discussions started again, new promises made. What can you do?

For EF, with the size and hotel, financial and legal aspects, we have, our options are severly limited. The idea of selecting people based on any kind of criteria other than "staff" and "first-comes" (which are about the only two which are both generally accepted and objectively measurable) creates big issues, ethical, perhaps even legal. But with what we currently have it is moot: we cannot take any influence about hotel reservations besides "yes, participant and thus eligibile for the EF room block". Especially can we not, any longer, take care of bookings ourselves. And this rules out both twin-room-assignments and preferred-roombooking-options, regardless of criteria.

So what will we do for next year?
We don't know yet - that is up for the hotel negotiations team to decide. But even if it will be the same procedure, you can be pretty sure that this incident won't repeat itself. Apart from us ourselves, the hotel wouldn't accept that from their booking partner.

*purrrrr*
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Sam T. Housecat

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Re: Booking system proposals.
« Reply #11 on: 22.01.2017, 14:51:15 »

Well, these are very sensible answers and provide a lot of detail. Thank you guys!

I believe providing good information is one of the key issues in a succesful organisation. Of course, a fair amount of self-organisation among guests can help a lot. The con orga may facilitate such a self-organisation power in simple ways, for example by drawing attention to some boards. And by repeating useful messages a lot in advance, people will absorb information slowly but steadily.

I have no idea what can and what can't be done in a hotel booking system. I'm an ICT'er like many furs, so the word 'impossible' doesn't exist in my vocabulary. Sometimes things turn out to be possible after all in an open conversation. I'd say: don't bury yourself in the hard and the impossible, but keep an open mind. Just look at all the possible solutions and make a list of the pro's and the con's. I've been pretty successful in the IT business and I don't give up easily on something. If you honestly talk about your problems and what you want, unexpected doors may open. Especially with your business partners.

Let me tell you a little story: when we organised EF4, to the guests, everything seemed to be organised nice and smoothly. However, behind the scenes, we had big logistical problems. We could hardly use information from the first three cons. We needed to make a lot of guestimates, some of which were just off and then we had to improvise a lot. I had sleepless nights, I tell you. But everytime staff members had a meeting, here and there a random fur would join in and make all kinds of suggestions. So many people work in so many professions and have so much knowledge! And lo and behold, even the toughest and most impossible problems turned out to be solvable with fresh ideas and a little help from bystanders. For example: halfway the con, it turned out that we were over budget. Then a guest suggested we should have a lottery. We just honestly explained our problem and our solution to the con goers. Many furs donated prizes for free! Not only did we safe the financial situation that night, the lottery show was an extra, unplanned event that was great fun for all!

In orga's like this, I know how lonely and overworked you can feel if so many problems come up and you have to solve them. But you're not allone! If you mobilise help, be open about your problems and welcome input and fresh ideas, even by people who don't know all the ins and outs exactly, you'll find a way.

I hope you can appreciate the efforts of people who want to help out by offering constructive thoughts. These people are very different from the rude, ranting masses; on the contrary, people who think along with you are mostly friends of the orga. Some of them you will see again as volunteers. Wouldn't you say that it's better to come up with solutions than to complain?
« Last Edit: 22.01.2017, 14:54:25 by Sam T. Housecat »
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Hai λ

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Re: Booking system proposals.
« Reply #12 on: 23.01.2017, 00:29:28 »

Can't argue that! :)
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