Saturday, January 23, 2016

Happy Australia Day (Mate!) and Wait-Listing for Squads...

Dear Swimmers

Australia Day is fast approaching - I'd just like to take this opportunity to wish you a really great day with your friends and families - hope you have a blast!

As you've probably seen within the app, there will be no squad swimming sessions this Tuesday 26th January - this includes the 5.30am, 6.30am and 6.15pm sessions - as the pool will be late opening and then having it's own celebratory fun events.

Of course there are a few events on this Tuesday instead which you might like to tap into instead:

Wait Listing for Squads:

Whilst you might at times add yourself to a squad wait list and see yourself billed at #12 and think "what's the point - I'll never get in!" - I do wish to reiterate that it is very much worthwhile adding yourself to the list as we're seeing a good majority of those who take the time and effort to click the "Add to Wait List" button get in, even when you might be quite low down the list when you initially add yourself. This is also how I make the decision about who and when I can offer a permanent place in the squad too*.

The app updates in real-time as well, so as people drop-out, so too do you move up the ranks! We are seeing on average 21 new faces per month who would ordinarily have been turned away without the wait list in place, so it's great to see so many new people getting the chance to access the squad sessions!

Remember, the system works by allowing you all to check-out of a session up to 12 hours before that session occurs. We usually see a little flurry of cancellations at ~5.15pm & ~6.15pm for the two early morning sessions and then again around 9.15pm for the later 9.30am sessions which then frees up places at the last moment. 

Whilst I would ideally encourage you all to check-out as soon as possible to free up your place to someone else and give them the maximum amount of notification time, I understand that this is not always possible. So, for those of you on a wait list, please check regularly closer to the 12-hr close-out window and you might just strike it lucky! Equally, if you no longer wish to wait list for a given session, please ensure you de-register for that list by cancelling your wait listed session within the app so as to not run the risk of being added unwittingly at the last moment and then being charged for a session you have effectively opted in for. We do require your own self-management of your wait listed sessions which can be done with the press of a button within the app - simple!

Here's a run down of which sessions are the easiest to access presently:

Very Easy / Almost Always Available:
Saturday 1-2pm
Tuesday 6.15pm
Waitlisted but A Good Chance of Getting in:
Monday 7am
Monday 930am
Tuesday 530am
Thursday 615pm
Friday 930am
Tough but Possible:
Tuesday 630am
Wednesday 930am
Friday 530am
Friday 630am
Almost Impossible (even selling your granny is often not enough!)
Wednesday 530am

*How to snag a permanent spot on the squad?

The process is simple:

  1. everyone who was a permanent member of the squad when we started the new system in August 2015 was offered a permanent booking of all their selected sessions up to August 2016 as a thank you for their support over the years
  2. the squad is dynamic - some of these permanent members elect to drop-out of the squad for whatever reason (usually work commitments or moving overseas) and effectively this releases their place(s) when I bulk cancel them going forwards
  3. when this occurs, those at #1 on the wait list for that session are offered the released place
  4. I continue to monitor the squad sessions going forwards, ensuring that we do not exceed our maximum quota (since the new system has been in place and I have set these thresholds an over-subscribed squad has happened a grand total of ZERO times! That's not to say that in theory it can't still occur, but 6 months of rigorous use and testing is proving very reliable). Yes, we have had more consistently attended sessions, but not the huge variation in peaks and troughs that we used to have!
  5. if someone is regularly receiving a call-up from the wait list for a session, this tells me that there must be a space available for them permanently. In which case I contact them directly and offer them that golden ticket!
  6. until you get offered the golden ticket, the best suggestion is to keep using the wait list and as soon as I see that you've been added on a frequent basis, be ready for the email and equally don't be afraid to shimmy me with a request yourself directly if you feel this has been the case!

The squad is a very dynamic organism - as great as the automated system is, be assured that I'm still monitoring and tweaking things in the background all the time to ensure it's smooth running!

A couple of known issues:

  1. it has been reported this week that some of you - even with valid session credits - have been prompted to purchase more credits in order to be able to add yourself to a wait list. This shouldn't be required - I apologise if you've had this issue. I have reported this issue to the developers. They acknowledge a small bug in the system and so in order to temporarily fix this whilst we are waiting for a permanent fix, I have changed some of the restrictions which will now allow you to add yourself to any wait list. Initially we added this restriction as believe it or not we had a flurry of people from Lithuania, Uzbekistan, the USA and Manila adding themselves in for the squad sessions and then (unsurprisingly!) not showing up for the sessions, but effectively taking a spot!! Not ideal for anyone!! I will keep a close eye on this until a proper fix is created!
  2. sometimes you will get a flurry of SMS notifications that you have been added to a series of sessions from the wait list. This will happen if someone else has asked me to bulk cancel them for a period and you happen to be next in line for all those specific sessions. You tell me you can only reply "Y" to the very last SMS notification. The developers are also working on this for me. Technically, as you haven't de-registered for any of these wait lists when you receive the SMS, the system will by default add you into all those sessions, so if you see an SMS for a specific session you know you can no longer attend, please just cancel out of it to release that spot again.
  3. our little Push Notification system seems to have gone on the blink for all iOS (iPhone) users at the moment - this is the facility that allows me to send you out short reminders about specific things - again, they're working on a fix for this!
  4. despite me saying for the umpteenth time that the auto-sign-in feature should be working when you attend the pool and the system recognises that you're there to join the session (without then needing to use the iPad to check-in), this still isn't working properly! So sorry! Please continue to use the iPad or just allow me to check you in on busier mornings from my own phone portal. This one is dragging on for sure!

As ever, if you're:

…please just drop me an email and I will sort! The new system has been a resounding success all round it seems - you love using it and it's massively reduced my administration time, allowing me to focus on the stuff that really matters - coaching you all to the very best of my ability! Thanks for all your support whilst we continue to work on refining it further!

Kind regards

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