Our application for Spring Bada-Bing is live, and you may notice it looks a little different. We thought you might be interested to hear about the why and how of it all.
In the past, we were lucky enough to have RCM members with spouses who were smart computery sorts, and they custom-built application systems for us that could handle the front-end that you see when you apply, as well as the back-end we use when we’re looking at everyone’s applications and jurying them in. Since time has a habit of marching on, and lives and businesses shift, those members (and their amazing spouses) have moved on to other projects.
Starting with last year’s Handmade Holiday application, we were officially on our own for our application software. We looked around, asked around, and based on a recommendation from craft-show-friends of ours, we chose our software. For the first time ever, we were paying to use someone’s application system. We had to shell out additional money to add questions we needed that did not already exist. None of this was done lightly, and there were quite a few conversations between us about whether we wanted to spend this money in this way. In the end, we didn’t love the experience of using that particular system. The jury process was WAY harder than we were accustomed to, and we felt like we had to scramble on our side when the system didn’t give us the information we expected to pull off the show in the way we’re used to. We’re not sharing this story to badmouth anyone, which is why I’m not providing details about the system we used. It might work great for other folks, but it didn’t fit our needs. We managed to put on Handmade Holiday just fine, and in the end, we got what we needed, but it was a more stressful situation than anyone wanted to deal with.
So. Back to the drawing board for Spring Bada-Bing. This time around, we took a closer look at three other systems that we had briefly considered for Handmade Holiday. Option A looked alright. Their website was pretty, and full of convincing marketing language. I requested a quote, aaaaannnd… we never heard from them. Option B was much less pretty, but on the plus side, it was more geared for our type of application needs. We liked the fact that there was only a one-time set-up fee for us to use their system, but after that, you paid per image uploaded, and after crunching the numbers, and adding in the cost of their credit card servicing fees, it got real spendy real quick. Option C, which is the option we chose, wasn’t exactly built for our type of application needs, but it was close and pretty dang affordable and most importantly, they let you dig around in their sandbox for free. We were able to completely set up our application, get a feel for how the back end of their software works, and figure out what would work well for us and what we would have to adjust our own processes to. We ended up with a TON of questions as we worked through it all, and they’ve been incredibly responsive to all of our emails, up to and including adjusting their software in multiple ways to fit our needs, even though we’re NEVER going to be their biggest client, and our type of application isn’t their bread-and-butter.
What does all of this mean to you? Not a whole lot, really. The look and feel of the application is going to be different. Hopefully that’s all you’ll experience. Everything else should flow pretty easily.
The one thing we’d change if we could is that the App Fee is now charged before you attach your images, and that’s a function of how the system is intended to work for other clients. (This change also means no more linking over to Paypal to send us money.) It’s a little weird, and we acknowledge that, but we feel it’s only a minor adjustment to the flow of the application. If the app process in our old system could be described as: first you do A, then B, then C, now it’s all still there, you just do A, then C, then B. Same sandwich, the layers are just ordered differently. We spell out clearly on the app in a couple of places that the payment process is different, and if for some reason you forget to add your images to complete the application, we will send out at least two reminders so that you can get it all in before we jury.
There are a LOT of upsides for us that overcome that one relatively minor downside. Most importantly, our spouses are off the hook! Now it’s someone else’s responsibility to be computery smart if something goes wonky. After all, that’s what we’re paying them for! We also get a robust database, a beautiful way to organize applications, and an excellent way to manage the 2-step jury process that we prefer. (More about the jury process here.) In addition to handling the app fee within the application itself, you will also be able to log back in after the jurying is complete to pay your booth fee here too. Assuming (and hoping!) all goes well once the app is live and we get through SBB using it, it will make setting up the application for Handmade Holiday easy peezy. Better for you: you only need to register once. If you apply to a show of ours in the future, you won’t need to fill out your name, company info, and address again – you’ll just fill out the booth-level questions like your category and how many chairs you’d like to have.
So… that’s the story. We hope you barely notice the changes, or if you do, it’s because the new app is a lot easier for you. If you have any questions or concerns about using the app, you can comment here, or drop us an email, and we’ll respond as quickly as we can. Thanks guys! We can’t wait to see your applications!