Random details, musings about the booking system and how booking goes

13 March: This page is the unoffical musings of the registrar. At times it may be longwinded and it gets less checking than the official pages. If typos drive you mad this page is not for you. For the official documentation about booking please look at the booking index page. There will not be any important information only on this page.

25 April We are operating a queue for places. We have sent out all the deposit reminders for the first pool.

24 April We continue to be very busy.

We have 3 adult places left and 5 being held over to the summer. Children count differently for places. Roughly speakig a child is half an adult unless under six in which case they don't count towards numbers. However we still need to be able to find a bedspace for them to accept a booking.

The next step is to start chasing up the deposits which have not yet arrived from those who got places in the first pool. Because we are operating a queue we need to be stricter on cancelling when a deposit doesn't arrive, especially if we get no response to any emails. Sometimes that is a sign that someone has changed their minds about coming. Sometimes it's not and telling the difference is challenging.

19 April The question is does having a booking pool encourage people to book quicker, or are people booking quicker because of the venue's location or better accessibility?

We are out of single bedrooms both standard and en-suite.

We have under 20 shared places left. The number is vague because of the way the venue count children as either halves or not at all where bedroom places are concerned, but for food they all count as one person and the venue have a cap on how many they can cater for.

13 April A month since I started this page. Summary of booking.

12 April The first bedroom type to run out is single standard. I've a few more bookings to process tomorrow. We have lots of places left so if you know anyone who doesn't like queuing for a place you can let them know we are back to our standard first come first served method of booking.

12 April From today we start to allocate places. I'm splitting the task over Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I had planned to take today off work to do this however life things happened derailing that plan. They are too private to list here. If you are friends with me on Facebook you'll have seen something. If you are not friends with me and wish to be put in a friends request. I'm not great at initiating friends requests to Autscape people however I usually accept them.

There are still places available which is great because I hate telling people they don't have a place.

I hope to have caught up with processing the bookings by Sunday evening. Then I'll be able to see which bedroom types have good availability still. I've had some people comment that single en-suites will be first to fill. Witout processing the bookings I don't know but indications from looking at bedroom choices, and bearing in mind that a wide variety of bedroom types leads to a low number of some bedroom types I don't think the single en-suites will be first to go this year. I did kind of suspect that might happen when the fees were being set which is why single en-suite has a lower supplement than usual.

11 April There was an increase in bookings in the past 24 hours. We have a good number of places left. If there are places left after we have processed all the early bookings they will generally be available on a first come first served basis (like booking in other years). A small number will be held back to the last minute.

10 April We've gone quite a bit past a hundred bookings now. At the moment there are more places available than there are people booked, however it is not clear that everyone will get their first choice bedroom. If you are reading this and are yet to book I advise listing at least 2 bedroom choices.

9 April Bookings are coming in via the online form. The bedroom spreadsheet I made worked for our programmer who has now entered it into the room planning template. The programmer has also made me an automatic bedroom type counting page so as I allocate bedrooms over Friday and Saturday I won't accidentally allocate more than I have.

The full diet information from the manual bookings (received before 7 April) is now uploaded into the booking system.

The online booking system is written so I cannot see which bookings have made donations. I asked for this feature so that even subconsciously I cannot favour a booking with a donation when it comes to bedroom planning. If I can't see the information in the first place that's far easier.

7 April (second update). I've just entered all the bedroom information into a spreadsheet and passed it to our programmer. He then inputs it into the bedroom plan system. This is the first venue in a long while where the number of bedrooms the contract says we have and the number on the plan our identical.

The bedroom corridor numbering is sane most of the time, odd numbers on one side and even numbers on the other. Except here and there where there are bedrooms at only one side of the corridor giving rise to things like '169, 170, 173, 175, 176, 177' on one side of the corridor and the other having '171, 172, 174' and then the bathroom.

We are nearly at a 100 bookings.

7 April A busy few days. Bookings tailed off just as the admin interface was ready. I spent some hours on Friday night copying most of the bookings received into the admin interface. Then today (Sunday) tested our online system which we then opened. Usually we would test for a lot longer than this however we are up against the 12 April deadline and due to our non Autscape life suddenly becoming busier than expected would be unlikely to open the online form before the 11th if we don't open today.

It is a bit nerve wracking opening this way. I could spend all day making it better however we would like some weekend time together. If there are loads of complaints we'll revert to the old way of booking. What I'm really asking for is patience and a bit of leeway here. We are doing what we can to get booking working, however we are doing this in our spare time and that spare time is decreasing rapidly.

I am not sure I like the idea of a wait period before processing bookings. It sounded great when it was described to me but what it is meaning in practice is I can't process the incoming bookings as I go along, thus spreading my workload, free to take a day away from Autscape as and when needed. Keeping 12 April free was easy before my life got busy. It may be that a lot of people don't hear from me until 12 April evening.

I am interested in what you think of having a wait period like this before processing bookings. And also thoughts on how long it should be. One week, two weeks, longer?

3 April 75 bookings now (plus the ones we know are on the way). I noticed tonight that I am processing the bookings exactly four months before the start of Autscape. (12th April for 12th August). That's accidental. The original date slipped.

If you hear anyone saying they submitted a booking and didn't hear back from us within 48 hours please ask them to email us (registrar@autscape.org). I don't believe I have missed any.

1 April We are over 50 bookings now and well over 60 if I was to include all the forms I know are on their way.

This year we have a lot of bed spaces. We won't fill all the family and double rooms. However we are limited in how many people can attend by the number that can be catered for.

Asperger United is now called The Spectrum. I have updated my reference to it below.

At the moment about three quarters of the bookings are from people who have attended in the past. The remainder are split quite evenly between new people this year and people who attended for the first time last year. It will be interesting to see if this changes when The Spectrum comes out.

30 March Over 40 bookings are in now and another half dozen are known to be on their way. Currently the most popular bedroom types are double ensuite and single ensuite. We have good numbers of both those bedrooms so don't worry if you are thinking of booking one. The bookings are split roughly 50/50 between the booking form and the book by email method.

29 March Around 30 booking applications so far and as far as I know neither the official announcement, front page update or The Spectrum advert have come out yet.

Early indications are that the bedrooms we've the most of are the most popular choice this year. However early indications are not always indicative of the overall booking.

28 March I am happy that the email form is so popular. It took a bit of time converting the first to the second; now it feels like time well spent.

27 March (long update): It was pointed out to me today that further down this page talking about the date for processing bookings I mentioned 5 April. That was the original date but when we found a bug in our online form, the form got delayed and I had to push the date forward so we had at least two weeks. I updated all the documenation but never occurred to me this unofficial page would be the cause of confusion. Apologies for that.

Last night I released the text booking page. That's just a long document of the questions and answers from the booking form all in one page (with some extra detail removed). It's listed under the booking form. If I had planned to be using the PDF booking form all along then of course I'd have had that ready to go at the same time. However this wasn't planned. We were going to have an online form. We ran out of time.

In other years we have waited for the online form to be ready sometimes as far as May why didn't we do that this year?

The reasons overlap.

The PDF form was written with a certain audience in mind. Those who have no internet access. As we send out forms most years we know what these people need from a form. It was never written to become the main booking form. We are where we are.

People ask if we will acknowledge the arrival of forms. I always acknowledge them, but not always immediately on receiving them. I have a full time job as well as my Autscape work. I tend to do registrar work when I get into work early, at the start or end of my lunch break and in the evening. My work hours are somewhat flexible in that so long as I appear and do the work no one is going to come down heavy on me if I don't work 10 to 6 or 9 to 5 on a regular basis so what counts as start and end of day varies from day to day. My work is a mix of coding (mainly bash and perl), database work, training, sysadmining, documenting, troubleshooting and user support. Sometimes if I've had a very heavy day at work followed by a painful commute, I just skim the registrar mailbox that evening answering only the high importance high priority ones leaving the rest to the next day.

If you've sent off a form and don't hear from me within a couple of days please check back especially if its close to the 12 April date.

The other question I'm hearing is will we get an online form?

We need to concentrate on the internals of the system for a while so that people can log on to see if their payments are received or to pay by Paypal and the booking system will send out automatic emails to people. Once that's done then if there are a significant number of places left we'll return to the online form. Again I am sorry for the online form's non appearing.

25 March: We've had to release the PDF form. See our announcement on the booking page. Our online form is unlikely to go out for at least a month please don't rely on it coming.

The PDF form was written for people without internet access. If I get lots of complaints I'll try to decrease its length, time depending.

If you see about the booking form being a PDF please pass that link along. I will try to organise an email to the announce list in the next day or two, after a few people have returned the form so I can see if its working well enough.

24 March: A bug was found. Sometimes an email doesn't go out. We have identified how it happens: It is when I go a different route through the admin interface than the programmer intended. The programmer is fixing it. Fixing it means a rewrite of some parts of the internal of the system. I'm hoping the form will come back to me for testing tonight or at least tomorrow night. However as I am not the programmer I can't make any promises.

The postal form continues to be available for anyone who needs it. They won't be processed until the online forms are.

20 March: Sometimes its difficult to explain why the form is nearly ready and then suddenly there is a delay.

I have failed twice in this post to explain without a long essay. The summary would be that testing showed a change was needed. It turned out to be a difficult to code change. But we are past it now and just have a few small parts left to code.

The second reason is all the coding and testing is done in our free time. Sometimes people seem to think Autscape is a large organisation with paid staff. (It's a small organisation with volunteers).

This week the person coding and the person who designs the form and tests (me) managed to not overlap our Autscape work much.

Anyway provided the person who does the coding gets time tomorrow we hope to get the form to me for the next check. Then provided I get time to test and don't find anything major we should be ready to go. I hope to get time, I worked (not Autscape work) late tonight because I was in a hyper mood and it seemed a pity to waste it on mere travelling. The advantage of that is I can take an hour or so out to test the Autscape booking form tomorrow or Friday without feeling guilty about work hours.

I've now crashed down from the sudden hyper mood and am tired.

15 March: The paper booking form is being distributed differently this year. Two years ago so many came in together we were swamped and couldn't get the online system out. Last year we asked people to wait for the online system and that caused some stress and negative comments. So this year

14 March: This year the booking form will allow people choose more than one bedroom type. That's to avoid situations like this:

To avoid that extra communication overhead this year, the booking form asks people to list all the bedroom types they would be willing to be in. When we process the forms we look at a person's highest preference and give them that room if it is available and matches any other needs they gave on their form. If it's not available or doesn't match needs we look at their second preference. And so on down the list.

We know a small number of people don't care which bedroom type they are in. There is a comments box they can mention that in.

13 March: This is a new page like the state of booking page I maintained a few years ago except it may contain any musings to do with booking for Autscape 2019. It is intended that no important information will only be on this page. If any information is important, it will be elsewhere in the registration webpages. Please don't feel you have to read this page. It is not guaranteed to be always interesting.

Something to clarify. I don't read the community list and I don't usually see the Facebook group. I don't answer questions and comments second hand either. If you have a question email registrar@autscape.org.

Unfortunately I don't have a way for people to comment here. For contact email registrar@autscape.org If your query isn't urgent and is about something on this page include the word musings in the subject line. If you want a direct answer let me know in the email. It may be a few days before I repond as booking queries get priority.