For Vienna EUDC we implemented some innovations to the traditional system of on-site registration of debating tournaments. The results were very positive. Our system managed to dramatically reduce the waiting-time for participants and at the same time allowed us to clarify almost all their individual problems on the first day.
The Traditional System
Traditionally, tournament registration desks are separated by tasks. Participants star tat desk one, where their details are checked, then they move on to desk two to collect their badge and so on.
This system has multiple shortcomings. First, it creates a queue at each desk, as not all of the desks work at the same speed. Second, data might be incoherent, as one participant’s data might be edited at multiple desks. E.g. the finance desk might not recognise a name change by an earlier desk and thus be unable to see a missing amount due. As a consequence, errors stay in the system. Third, when problems occur the entire process is slowed down. Even when the system is well arranged, it is almost impossible to avoid that later desks have nothing to do when the queue gets stuck at desks before them
Most importantly though, the system is notriously slow. We observed that the reason for this is simply that each desk needs to look up the name of each participant before it can do anything. For the majority of the participants this is indeed the most time-consuming task. Once the dataset is found, the registration desks usually only make minor alterations.
Two Stop Shop – The Vienna System
At Vienna EUDC we concluded that the best way to limit waiting time was to minilise the number of desks the participants would need to visit. Therefore we defined the responsability of desks by the name of insitutions rather than by specific tasks. This way insitutions could still check in together, but their desk would not only check their details, but also the financial questions and hand out the badges. A queue manager at the entrance welcomed the participants and directed them to the correct desk.
The system saved time in multiple regards. The badges could already be presorted. At the same time, the pressure on the volunteers would never be too high, as the queue-manager would always let maximal one contingent to each desk. The particpants felt welcomed and the extra stop at the queue manager allowed for continuous movement. The system also solved the problem of incoherent data, as each desk would only work on the participants in its responsability. Solely the coordination with the Hotel desk required a common master file, but the amount of necessary coordination was significantly limited compared to an issue-desk system.
Yet, there could still be jams due to individuals who had not settled their finances or had major issues with their hotel allocation. Most importantly, these tasks needed to be centralised, as one desk would not necessarily have all the information to treat each case. For this purpose the « problem desks » took over difficult cases and handled them in a coherent manner. They also reduced waiting time, as the procedures at the standard desks stayed swift.
The system below was developed by the Vienna EUDC Crew especially with the ideas from Katharina Alligner, Katharina Wamser, Melanie Sindelar and Christoph Jäger.