Online bookings – a plea

I recently had reason to request tickets for a forthcoming social event in the club and, as encouraged, went on-line to enter my request for tickets.

Having navigated through the system - quite a feat for me - I then attempted to print-off the two tickets asked for. At this stage, the printout became 'gobbledy gook' and of no use. Imagine my suprise and, to say the least, dismay, when I then discovered that there was a charge made if I requested that the ticket print be carried out by the club office and the charge donated to the RNLI.

The age of technology is truly upon and surrounding us. This is a fact of life for most of us - especially for those of us, like me, still in work - but we have to recognise that the club still has a significant number of members who either use their computer infrequently and with difficulty or, in a measurable number of cases, have no computer at all. For those members, being able to use the more traditional ways of applying for tickets or booking-in for rallies and cruises, becomes paramount.

I am beginning to get the feeling that what started out as an encouragement to go 'on-line' is fast becoming a 'no alternatives' requirement and there is, in my view, an underlying sense of subtle pressure - bullying even - coming into play.

It would be a great pity if the club lost sight of those members who, for what ever reason, are unable or unwilling to use electronic booking systems and, whether by default or deliberate decision, turned them into 'second-class' members who felt excluded from taking part in club events - both on and off the water - and may therefore vote with their feet and are never to be seen again. Extreme perhaps but not impossible.

I would urge a more pragmatic approach and at least offer members the chance to use a more traditional system of booking if they need to, without making them feel reduced to the level of an incompetent, or by financially penalising them for not having the ability to print-off or have a programme on their computer which allows them to print off those much needed tickets.

I sense that I run the risk of being vilified and derided by writing this plea, but I feel justified in standing up for those members who may be experiencing difficulties in navigating our increasingly technological systems. It would be a sad day if they felt excluded, intimidated, and didn't bother to attend club events because of this drive to go totally 'electronic'.

Are we to become the Ryan Air of yacht clubs? Just a thought.

Richard Keen
Past Commodore
Member of the President's Committee

Richard Keen, 14.06.2011 | More from Richard Keen’s blog