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USAWS On-Line Registration Issues and Solutions

lpskierlpskier Posts: 3,021 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
edited January 2013 in Rules/Politics/Issues
I have two observations about the USA Water Ski online registration program. First, the registration process is very clumsy. There are too many steps to register, and if you are registering for multiple events in one sitting, it doesn't remember your information from event to event. The software seems poorly designed to me.

The second gripe is the payment processing. I used to sit down with the Tournament Guide when it comes out, fill out all my entries (fill out one completely except for the tournament name, photocopy as many as needed and some extras and you were good to go) and mail them in with my check. The checks would be cashed by the tournament just before or just after the tournament, so even though you mailed all your entry fees at once, the money came out of the account a little at a time.

With the USA Water Ski online system, you pay when you enter and your card or Pay Pal account is immediately debited. With all tournaments being encouraged to use online registration and more tournaments doing so ( and it makes sense because it is easier for for them even with the three percent cut taken by, you guessed it, USA Water Ski) skiers will either have to choose to pay a ton of dough now or risk getting bumped from popular tournaments. One of my favorite sites uses the system and they are having five tournaments this year. I paid $180 in entry fees this week to ensure participation in two of them and I'll have to take my chances on the others.

This is not a negative comment about this particular site or any other site for that matter ( it would be bad enough getting banned here; God forbid I start getting kicked out of ski sites!) It makes good sense for them. I doesn't make sense for me, though, and I blame a crappy, poorly designed and poorly thought out software program.

My, I do feel better.
John Wilkins- Si non pro sanguine quem ludus ne. #iskiconnelly


  • HortonHorton Posts: 29,992 Administrator

    I would guess that the 3% goes to the credit card co.

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  • MattPMattP Posts: 6,229 Mega Baller
    @lpskier understandable.
    You don't even want to know how much a site like USAWS costs to design, develop, and maintain. Sometimes features you think would be easy to implement are not that easy, do not integrate well with the current system and will cost thousands. Just ask @horton about a small baller directory he wanted to have for the site...
  • RichardDoaneRichardDoane Posts: 4,521 Mega Baller
    My complaint is the fee that is charged to the LOC to use the online system, and there should be a way to delay payments until a date nearer to the event day
    BallOfSpray Pacific Northwest Vice President of Event Management, aka "Zappy"
  • ForrestGumpForrestGump Posts: 6,164
    edited January 2013
    This is a valid issue being brought up, IMO. I know half a dozen college age and 20 somethings who are deterred from entering tournaments because they don't have the financial reserves to be able to do online registration early in the season and pay for it up front.

    We've chosen to not do online registration for our 2-3 tournaments in order to keep it more personal and allow everyone to come. We'll get some mail in entrants, we'll get emails from others saying I'm coming. Some will tell one of our club skiers to put em on the list. And we never have registration issues with 35+ skiers.
    Shane "Crash" Hill

  • WishWish Posts: 8,175 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    edited January 2013
    I've had to cancel a tourny here and there over the years for reasons with more then enough notice. I would have my check just sent back to me by tourny director. Havnt needed to do this recently but have been using on line reg. How does that work for tourny dir if funds need to be returned to a skier canceling if that someone has used on line reg?
    >>> 11.25..a different kettle of fish. <<<
  • ntxntx Posts: 838 Crazy Baller
    Plus, you don't know what your health will be this early in the season. I usually don't use the on-line stuff except for big events (regionals & nationals) Locals ones we are like @Shane H. Make a call or e-mail to the host site 1-2 weeks prior.

    We host three 3-event tournaments a year. We are always full (35-40 slalom skiers) and in most cases will only have 3-4 skiers registered a week prior. On the Wed prior we get all the rest. I guess that skiers on Monday morning, look at the guide for where they are going to ski the next weekend.
  • The_MSThe_MS Posts: 5,972 Member of the BallOfSpray Hall Of Fame
    Another problem is closing out the tourney and getting it to headquarters. It is always asking you for the names and addresses of the officials. You would think you could type in the member number and that would be it. It takes forever to fill out the required info and send. As for the regular snail mail sign up process, I cant tell you how many people actually photo copy their card and mail it. Not sure why they tell you to do that but when you are setting up the running orders, they have to be active in order to get them into the scoring system.
    Shut up and ski
  • KelvinKelvin Posts: 1,243 Mega Baller
    I have used the Online Registration system at our tournaments since the system was implemented and I personally will not go back. It makes the paperwork/tournament set up so much easier for the organizers. From my standpoint, all I really need is for the skier to complete the OLR up to the point of actually making the payment. Their information does show up in the system as a registered skier, which is all I really need from the system. For those that don't pay thru the system, we simply get their payment when they show up. Of course, with some sites that have tournaments fill up quickly, they could reject your entry if it is full, but that is a risk with snail mail methods as well.

    For refunds, paypal has a refund mechanism. If the refunds are made within 2 months of the payment, then all the fees are reversed as well. If the refunds are later than that, then paypal treats the refund as a new payment. You can treat these payments as personal payments and there won't be any additional fees charged, but the original fees aren't reversed.

    On the fee to use OLR, I have suggested to the powers that be on several occassions that there should not be an extra fee to use the system which would encourage more people to use it.

    @shane You would stand a better chance of getting an advanced entry from me if you used OLR. I will admit I'm one that sends an email the week before the tournament. Having gone the paperless route with the OLR, I just can't go back to the snail mail.
    Kelvin Kelm, Lakes of Katy, Katy Texas
  • Moskier3evMoskier3ev Posts: 178 Baller
    Tina uses OLR because it cuts down time to set up scoring and running orders plus all the the reasons Kelvin listed.
    1st video is up for Tribal Throwdown visit SMRR facebook. 1st 300 paid pulls. Team tourney at SMRR. Skiing, Team format, Bonus event, Party on the river Sat night live band burgers and dogs.

    Jeff Lindsey
  • ToddLToddL Posts: 2,854 Mega Baller
    I think OLR is the right thing for our sport. I think the current system is not the right solution. The fees mechanism is a mess. It should be blank line items (as many as the tournament wants to create) with individual fees (set by the tournament). Thus, if you want to offer 17 diff levels of discounted fees for various roles, the system should give you the freedom to name each item and state the fee. This actually would make it much easier to setup and use in my opinion. I think the current system tries to coordinate classes, # of events, etc. to the point of making the whole thing more of a barrier than a benefit.

    The most valuable benefits for OLR are: 1) the ability to directly import registration into WSTIMS, 2) the ability to accept credit card payment, 3) the reduction or elimination of registration desks and paper waivers the morning of the event.
    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
  • MattPMattP Posts: 6,229 Mega Baller
    I am by no means defending the online registration system. I just used it for the first time this week to register for the Atlanta ProAm. I am usually that guy who calls a day or two before a tournament to get in.

    I can understand the frustrations that people have with the system. I wil say that hindsight is always 20-20. For all of the features that you guys have listed out I would say that the re design or updating of the current system would cost tens of thousands in Dev work. I am not saying things should not be done, but do you think that this would be the best allocation of the USAWS funds?

    If you do think these are necessary changes.
    Make a detailed list and start sending it up the required channels to make a change. At the worst they say no, they might take some ideas, or hell even say yes and do a complete system redesign. You never know.
  • ForrestGumpForrestGump Posts: 6,164
    I would assume that like all of the other sw tools we use, like the jump measurement and wstims, that the OLR is homegrown by someone within the organization. Which means changes are at the mercy of someone who's got a real jom and does it on the side.
    Shane "Crash" Hill

  • HortonHorton Posts: 29,992 Administrator
    When I saw this thread a week ago I thought back to the last time I used online registration => it really sucked. As admin I do not love threads that are critical of USAWS. The subject needs to be valid or we are just being negative. This site should and is a watchdog for the organization and we should complain about what is really wrong and praise what is right.

    Tonight I used the online to enter the Atlanta ProAM and it was WAY better then I remember. I can honestly say I think it is pretty good. Would Amazon or Google do better? Well yes but I could not do better. Maybe doing a bunch of events is repetitive but it is better than licking envelopes.

    Not saying it is perfect but not sure it deserves to be thrown under the bus.

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  • ForrestGumpForrestGump Posts: 6,164
    I completely agree, John. My post was not meant to throw it under the bus. My problem with it is that you're kind of locked into a box when using it. The box that someone else came up with. A little tweaking and it would be great. Like Kelvin mentioned, you can use it to sign up and then not pay. But you kind of fool it. It would be nice if there was a button after registering where you could check to go ahead and pay rather than just closing out and not knowing for sure if you're registered yet. Which would then feed a disclaimer page where the tournament could set a date where an entry needed to be paid or you were moved to the wait list or cancelled. And then also as was mentioned the tournament needs a little more flexibility in what they set up for discounts and such.
    Shane "Crash" Hill

  • danbirchdanbirch Posts: 301 Baller
    edited January 2013
    The OLR has a lot of potential, and is getting closer to it's capability. It has the potential to eliminate the need for a registrar. Of course, since not everyone uses it, we still need someone to accept the snail mail entries.

    The Good:

    1. The user gets instant acknowledgement that He/She is entered. You do not get that with snail mail. I have seen people show up at tournaments, but their entry was received just after the last available entry, so they did not get to ski.
    2. Payments, waivers, registrations are all transparent. The registrars don't have last minute problems chasing down the $, or waivers, incomplete registration forms, signatures, etc.
    3. Easy to use (imo) I can sign up for a tournament in under 1 min, no licking stamps, going to post office/mail box, no need for phone calls to registrar to see if I'm in, etc.
    4. I can see an instant list of others who are entered. This helps me decide (sometimes) if I want to enter.

    The "Improvable":

    1. Seems that some are still having difficulty using it. I'm not sure why, though.
    2. Some won't use paypal (though you don't HAVE to pay that way, and you can still send in a check).
    3. They need to show WHICH ROUNDS of a tournament an entrant wants to sign up for (like if it is a 3 round tournament, and they sign up for 2). This would allow the system to make a running list easily. Otherwise, we would be just guessing which 2 rounds the entrant would want to be in. One idea would be (at least) have a place that the entrant could place "comments" into.
    4. The "Check Registration Status" button needs to take you directly to the "check registration status" page, instead, you now have to make about 3 more dropdown window clicks just to get there. (I use that button ALOT). I have mentioned it to them, and their reason was that it could be too hard to load that many entries (for a big tournament) on a Cell Phone.....
    5. They need it to be free to the tournament to use. I know of several locations who will not offer it simply because they don't want to pay for it.

    I like it, it just needs some more evolving.
  • Chef23Chef23 Posts: 6,060 Mega Baller
    @danbirch that is a good review of the system. Personally I prefer to use it and register online. I like the Paypal payment option as I frequently register when I am at work and don't have the checkbook handy.

    I did not know that tournaments need to pay to use it. Is there some sort of sanctioning fee the tournaments pay to USA Waterski? If there is it seems like that should be included in it.
    Mark Shaffer
  • danbirchdanbirch Posts: 301 Baller
    I understand that tournaments have to pay an extra fee to use the OLR, but I don't know how much that fee is.
  • KelvinKelvin Posts: 1,243 Mega Baller
    It's an extra $15 per tournament. I found it a super time saver for the tournament director/registrar (i.e. me) and don't hesitate paying the fee. Having said that, I have suggested to the EVP that the sanctioning fee be increased by $5 and make OLR free to everyone.
    Kelvin Kelm, Lakes of Katy, Katy Texas
  • ToddLToddL Posts: 2,854 Mega Baller
    @danbirch - great list. Positive attitude, too!

    There are two very different audiences for OLR: Skiers and Tournament Organizers. OLR is cumbersome more so for the tournament organizers, than the skiers...

    I think the significant difficulty comes from fee complexity due to variety of discounts, etc. This can translate into difficulties for both audiences. If you are simply hosting a 2 rd slalom event with only a few discounts for a few chief officials, then the system works.

    Start adding in multitudes of discounts, and the system implodes...
    Free for Promo, Free for Chiefs, -$10 for Reg officials, -$5 for Asst officials, 50% for Collegiate skiers, Club Member Juniors Only discount, etc. etc, etc.
    When you multiply all of the above by 1 to 3 events, you can end up with about 25 different fee possibilities.

    I know of two techniques that sort of work to address the above:
    1) Free Entries - have the skier follow OLR all the way through the waiver, and STOP at the payment screen. This will show the skier as registered, signed waiver, but pending payment.
    2) Charge everyone full price and then calculate their discount amount manually and do refunds via PayPal (within 2 months). Still, this creates a little sense of risk for the skier, since they are taking the tournament organizer's word that a proper refund will be made.

    Again, I think all of the complexity could be wiped away by simply letting the tournament organizer simply list all possible fees with a descriptive name next to each...

    1EV Junior Club Member Fee
    2EV Junior Club Member Fee
    3EV Junior Club Member Fee
    1EV Collegiate Skier Fee
    2EV Collegiate Skier Fee
    3EV Collegiate Skier Fee
    1EV Grass Roots Skier Fee
    2EV Grass Roots Skier Fee

    It may be a long list for some tournaments, but it can reduce or eliminate the PayPal refunds and make selection of correct fee a little easier on the skier.

    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
  • ToddLToddL Posts: 2,854 Mega Baller
    @horton @MattP are you guys as administrators/moderators able to edit the title on an existing thread? Maybe change it to: USAWS On-Line Registration Issues and Solutions
    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
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