Contactless payment and # limits on freestyle sessions: How does your rink do it?

Z

ZilphaK

Guest
Just saw the recommendations for reopening golf courses in Pennsylvania. First thing I noticed: contactless payment.

Our rink depends a lot on cash payments and face-to-face interactions. Our freestyle sessions are not limited by number and very loosey-goosey when it comes to walk-ons (drop off your cash, sign in, walk onto ice).

It's going to be a big culture change for us to suddenly limit skaters to specific sessions, but I know other rinks have been doing this for a while.

QUESTIONS

1. What online or non-cash contactless payment system (swipe cards, etc.) does your rink use for freestyle payments? Is there a specific software?

2. If your rink limits numbers on the ice normally for freestyle, how do you sign up and how does rink keep track of who is on ice (making sure just those who signed up are on, no "cheaters")?

3. If skaters can only sign up for X sessions each week (with limit of X skaters on ice before session fills us), how do you deal with skaters who need specific ice times to work with their coaches, who may also only have lesson times at certain times of day? (Clarify: Coach A teaches in the morning and certain afternoons. Skater B wasn't able to sign up for any of those sessions because they were filled. What happens then?)

4. Is there a way to make ice time "fair" so all skaters get some time in the "new normal," or would it be "first come, first serve" and potentially block out some skaters from getting any ice time?

Thank you for any BTDT experience or brainstorming!
 

Debbie S

Well-Known Member
Messages
12,670
One of my club's rinks takes payments by credit card for rink FS sessions, so they could do contactless pretty easily. They keep a list in the office and once it reaches the max, no one else is sold a spot.

My club's home rink only takes cash or check but they are in the midst of a never-ending renovation and haven't had any rink sessions this year...only open for contract ice...so they are moot at the moment.

For my club's sessions, payment is cash or check and we keep a list of those on each session. Most purchase sessions for an entire season (fall, winter, etc), i.e. locking in, so they could mail checks w/o having a hand-to-hand transaction. Walk-ons, of course, pay cash or check when they arrive at the rink. If we have to limit the number of skaters to less than what we normally do, we would likely have to increase cost, depending on duration. We could require everyone to sign up in advance, no walk-ons, and there would likely be drama. Usually, we are first-come, first-serve, but if we have to limit skaters and coaches, there will be drama, it's skating.
 
Z

ZilphaK

Guest
One of my club's rinks takes payments by credit card for rink FS sessions, so they could do contactless pretty easily. They keep a list in the office and once it reaches the max, no one else is sold a spot.

My club's home rink only takes cash or check but they are in the midst of a never-ending renovation and haven't had any rink sessions this year...only open for contract ice...so they are moot at the moment.

For my club's sessions, payment is cash or check and we keep a list of those on each session. Most purchase sessions for an entire season (fall, winter, etc), i.e. locking in, so they could mail checks w/o having a hand-to-hand transaction. Walk-ons, of course, pay cash or check when they arrive at the rink. If we have to limit the number of skaters to less than what we normally do, we would likely have to increase cost, depending on duration. We could require everyone to sign up in advance, no walk-ons, and there would likely be drama. Usually, we are first-come, first-serve, but if we have to limit skaters and coaches, there will be drama, it's skating.

I hear you on the drama. Ugh.

I think for the time being, the answer has to be a resounding, "You get what you get and don't get upset, and if you keep hassling us, we're putting grass in and turning this to a lacrosse field." People are just going to have to get their crowns untilted, you know?

I know at Kettler in DC (can't remember what it's called now), there were times we tried to get ice times for lessons, and were locked out. In some cases, the coach bought the ice for us ahead of time.

Honestly, I could see a lot of older rinks thinking the whole thing is a hassle and either switching to grass or -- around here -- selling for warehouse space instead. Trying not to think about that yet. Working with our skating director on being proactive, for the time being. :) Even if we open in the Green Phase, contactless and online payments seem to be the wave of the future. Just trying to figure out how that all works for freestyle.
 

Debbie S

Well-Known Member
Messages
12,670
We occasionally have members complain about why we don't take credit cards for our club sessions. They point to the large, privately-owned rink in our area (where our club has recently started buying some ice) and we point out that the rink is a business, with paid staff, and we are a small, non-profit, volunteer-run club. Slight difference. We could theoretically use a mobile payment system like Square or Stripe or whatever it's called, but there are fees involved (plus the fact that at our home rink, there is little to no data or wifi signal in the building). A few years ago, we used Entryeeze for membership....people complained about the fees and it also made more work for us. We've looked into Venmo and Zelle but logistically and financially, they aren't that feasible for us.

Right now, our state isn't anywhere near reopening and even when we start, rinks will take a while. We don't have club ice during the summer (well, we usually do at our home rink but they will be closed for reno anyway) so we've got some time to figure things out. Maybe things will be much improved by Sept.
 
Z

ZilphaK

Guest
We occasionally have members complain about why we don't take credit cards for our club sessions. They point to the large, privately-owned rink in our area (where our club has recently started buying some ice) and we point out that the rink is a business, with paid staff, and we are a small, non-profit, volunteer-run club. Slight difference. We could theoretically use a mobile payment system like Square or Stripe or whatever it's called, but there are fees involved (plus the fact that at our home rink, there is little to no data or wifi signal in the building). A few years ago, we used Entryeeze for membership....people complained about the fees and it also made more work for us. We've looked into Venmo and Zelle but logistically and financially, they aren't that feasible for us.

Right now, our state isn't anywhere near reopening and even when we start, rinks will take a while. We don't have club ice during the summer (well, we usually do at our home rink but they will be closed for reno anyway) so we've got some time to figure things out. Maybe things will be much improved by Sept.

I did find some other very basic online payment systems for gyms. Lowest rate is about $100, but tracks who should be on a session at any time -- there's no barcode scanning, etc. For our rink that might be enough (privately owned, but small rink, small staff). Just making payments online and doing a "look-see" to headcount the session could be all that's needed, especially if only one ice surface is opening. I couldn't see opening both surfaces only to possibly need to lockdown again if case numbers rise or there's a mini-hot spot associated with the rink.
 

Yazmeen

Shake it then, shake it now, shake it forever
Messages
5,602
You purchase a card for so many sessions - I have always walked in and just waved or held up one finger for one session if the person at the desk is busy, but aside from speaking, there's no contact.
 

GarrAargHrumph

I can kill you with my brain
Messages
19,201
For freestyle sessions and other sessions run by the rinks I go to, they take credit and debit cards. For club ice, for walk ons, you normally pay by check. If you subscribe, you pay by check or via Entry Eez. Some rinks also sell multiple session cards, and they'll stamp the card or punch a hole in it each time you come in.

Rinks here have various methods for keeping track of who is out on the ice. For freestyle sessions without a lot of people on them, they just have you sign in, then don't check. For busier sessions, they have you sign in, then send someone out rinkside to count people on the ice and match it up to the number who signed in, or they'll do things like assign everyone a wrist band that you have to wear outside your clothing so they can see it when you go by, or similar.

Here, it's rare that sessions reach capacity, although it occasionally happens. The exception is at places closer to the city - Hackensack, Westchester Skating Academy, Chelsea Piers, during prime time, and those sessions often fill.
 

spinZZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
216
You purchase a card for so many sessions - I have always walked in and just waved or held up one finger for one session if the person at the desk is busy, but aside from speaking, there's no contact.
You don't need to sign in/sign out? You don't need to have your card punched (if it's a punch card) or checked (if it's a weekly/monthly/seasonal pass)?
 

spinZZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
216
Assuming it's economically viable, rinks will need to go the way of contactless systems used for other admissions systems: namely via a mobile phone app. Charges will be paid electronically. You pull out your phone when you enter and when you exit. Software can automatically track how many people are on the ice, send an alert when the maximum has been reached, and bar additional skaters. That way the guy at the front desk doesn't have to handle any transactions by hand, and doesn't have to keep count.
 

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