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Plans -- Whitney Lottery 2013
#29048 11/09/12 09:46 PM
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I have been in contact with Inyo National Forest staff, and they have passed along some ideas for changes to the lottery next February. There are some pretty big changes planned, and Inyo staff would like to see some discussion on the proposed ideas.

Here are the ideas presented:
  • Allow people to cancel or withdraw a lottery application before March 16.
  • Direct people to log onto their account after the lottery to get lottery results. The email notification didn't work for many people last year.
  • Try publishing "Most requested dates" during the lottery application phase, like Yosemite is doing for Half Dome.
  • Possibly utilize the "accept or decline your trip date", with the non-refundable $15 per person fee payment made when you accept.
The chance to decline a trip before being charged should help:
  • allow people the freedom of requesting a wide range of dates, as in the paper lottery, without financial hardship.
  • unwanted dates will be released as early as possible, making them available for others to reserve.
  • ensure more groups get at least one trip, so those willing to try for multiple trips regardless of the cost (last year's lottery) will not have an advantage.
The "accept or decline" process will be similar to that used by the river lotteries run on the same Recreation.gov website. Those winning one or more slots in the lottery will need to log on and accept or decline their trip:
  • An acceptance period (Post lottery to April 15) would free up many unused dates earlier than the No Show process. The No Show system will remain to release unused permits for walk in requests.
  • Making the reservation fee payable when a date is accepted would even the playing field for groups who cannot afford to "win a reservation at any cost".
  • Because this strategy is likely to significantly increase the number of applications, Inyo would also apply a one trip per leader limit in the lottery to help increase the number of groups to get at least one trip. We would not limit access for the number of trips per year, just the lottery reservations. Frequent hikers would NOT be limited in how many times they got walk in permits or reservations made after the lottery.
  • Folks that want to apply for a wide range of dates could use multiple applications; the pay when you accept a date would make the cost more reasonable; the one trip per leader limit would avoid having multiple reservations that block other groups from getting trips.

Re: Plans -- Whitney Lottery 2013
Steve C #29052 11/10/12 01:45 PM
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"Because this strategy is likely to significantly increase the number of applications, Inyo would also apply a one trip per leader limit in the lottery to help increase the number of groups to get at least one trip. We would not limit access for the number of trips per year, just the lottery reservations. Frequent hikers would NOT be limited in how many times they got walk in permits or reservations made after the lottery."

This would seem a possible "fly in the ointment" for those of us who tend to organize the trips and do not know in advance who might be participating. Assuming more than one person on the hike then other name(s) could be used (if known), so I'm not sure how much this would surpress the number of applications. Also, the commercial folks would/could be hurt by this. Perhaps they have different arrangements with Inyo, but if they play by the same rules it might be difficult for them to know in advance who the "leader" might be. Perhaps this could be enforced for Friday - Monday, since these are the most sought after days.

Over all I see the changes as positive. More flexibillity with less cost for the public.

Re: Plans -- Whitney Lottery 2013
John Sims #29060 11/10/12 04:10 PM
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Thanks for the comments, John. I know commercial guides work outside the lottery, so that wouldn't be an issue.

If you want multiple trips, I suppose you would need to have use a second person's name on the sign up. They do allow an alternate leader to pick up the permits at the Visitor Center, and I am thinking this "one-trip-per-person within the lottery" would apply to trip leader, but not the alternate leader. Maybe we can ask and clarify that part.

I, too, am wondering: One person can enter multiple applications for the lottery, and I doubt the software would be the one to enforce the one-trip rule during the lottery run. So somehow, the acceptance process would need to allow accepting only one trip, and render the others as canceled. This would require a software check in the acceptance process, and I wonder if the software people could do that in time for the next lottery.

Re: Plans -- Whitney Lottery 2013
Steve C #29083 11/12/12 05:53 AM
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Once the procedure is sorted out would it be possible to get a single document adopted by the Interagency Visitor Center that explains the entire procedure, from winter lottery to walk-ups, including cancellations, no-shows, WMT/MR differences (or lack thereof), etc., all the permit info, one-stop shopping?

I think this would be a great help to us and to Inyo, SEKI and BLM.



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Re: Plans -- Whitney Lottery 2013
Steve C #29085 11/12/12 08:21 AM
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Allow people to cancel or withdraw a lottery application before March 16. GOOD

Direct people to log onto their account after the lottery to get lottery results. The email notification didn't work for many people last year. NEUTRAL

Try publishing "Most requested dates" during the lottery application phase, like Yosemite is doing for Half Dome.
GOOD. HELPS US PICK DATES THAT ARE LESS POPULAR

Possibly utilize the "accept or decline your trip date", with the non-refundable $15 per person fee payment made when you accept.
YES!

allow people the freedom of requesting a wide range of dates, as in the paper lottery, without financial hardship.
LAST YEAR'S PROCESS WHERE MULTIPLE DATES HAD TO BE SPECIFIED INSTEAD OF A RANGE OF DATES WAS DEFINITELY BURDENSOME.

DEFINITELY LIKE THE ACCEPT/DECLINE PROCESS

Re: Plans -- Whitney Lottery 2013
tdtz #29089 11/12/12 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted By: tdtz
allow people the freedom of requesting a wide range of dates, as in the paper lottery, without financial hardship.
LAST YEAR'S PROCESS WHERE MULTIPLE DATES HAD TO BE SPECIFIED INSTEAD OF A RANGE OF DATES WAS DEFINITELY BURDENSOME.
Unfortunately, Tom, the "wide range of dates" also came in this sentence: "Folks that want to apply for a wide range of dates could use multiple applications;"

It appears to me that they are NOT trying to upgrade the application to specify a date range. That means you would need to pay that $6 per application for up to 15 specific start dates. Then do it all over again for the next 15 dates. Pretty burdensome, both in time and money!

As a software developer myself, I KNOW writing the code to process a date range is NOT DIFFICULT. Getting the lottery application people to allow a date range should be the highest priority, in my opinion.

Re: Plans -- Whitney Lottery 2013
Steve C #29090 11/12/12 01:13 PM
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Steve,
Some of us can pretty much do any date as long as we have a little notice. If my ballot comes up and I have any date between July 1 and Sept 15, they should be able to pick the date that has the least number of hikers and then assign it.

Considering how buggy the system was last year, when the 15 different start dates didn't stick, it was a royal pain to re-enter everything.

Oh well....why bother simplifying things.

Re: Plans -- Whitney Lottery 2013
Steve C #29199 11/19/12 11:22 PM
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My personal opinions here...

> Possibly utilize the "accept or decline your trip date", with the non-refundable $15 per person fee payment made when you accept.

This one is a tough one. It will turn the lottery into more of a free-for-all, where the most industrious person would have a better chance than a person playing more reasonably. Say I decided to enter 10 applications, paying the $6 for each application, (and each application could contain 15 distinct start dates). For $60, I would have a 10 times better chance of winning a slot, as compared to someone entering a single application. That favors people with more time and money. I don't like that.

It also begins to look like the river lotteries, where there is about a 5% success rate.

I still feel that limiting the number of applications, but enabling people to enter a date range rather than 15 specific entry dates would be more equitable.

...but this is my opinion only. I'd like to see others' ideas. (and so would Inyo staff.)

Re: Plans -- Whitney Lottery 2013
Steve C #29219 11/21/12 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted By: Steve C
My personal opinions here...

> Possibly utilize the "accept or decline your trip date", with the non-refundable $15 per person fee payment made when you accept.

This one is a tough one. It will turn the lottery into more of a free-for-all, where the most industrious person would have a better chance than a person playing more reasonably. Say I decided to enter 10 applications, paying the $6 for each application, (and each application could contain 15 distinct start dates). For $60, I would have a 10 times better chance of winning a slot, as compared to someone entering a single application. That favors people with more time and money. I don't like that.

It also begins to look like the river lotteries, where there is about a 5% success rate.

I still feel that limiting the number of applications, but enabling people to enter a date range rather than 15 specific entry dates would be more equitable.

...but this is my opinion only. I'd like to see others' ideas. (and so would Inyo staff.)


I agree, the fact that you can decline the dates you dont want is basically rewarding the person who sits and enters hundreds of start dates.

If you are financially responsible for EVERY application you submit if you win makes it a much bigger deterrent if 4 of the 10 applications that person submits hit... think about it;

last year:
submit 10 permits with 3 people and 4 are winners:
thats $60 for the application and $180 for the 4 trips with 3 people. with a total of $240... thats enough to discourage me to take that gamble

this year
submit 10 permits with 3 people and 4 are winners:
Same $60 but this time I can decline the other 3 winners and only pay $105...

on another note too... serialize the wag bags with a unique number associated with a group leader... they find a bag, record the number, hit that group leader with littering or whatever fine!
No more wag bags on the trail!


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Re: Plans -- Whitney Lottery 2013
Bryan P #29235 11/24/12 08:47 PM
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Originally Posted By: Bryan P


on another note too... serialize the wag bags with a unique number associated with a group leader... they find a bag, record the number, hit that group leader with littering or whatever fine!
No more wag bags on the trail!


I second this! I think $1000 fine would help.

I didn't really have any issues with the lottery system last year, but I think I was lucky.


Make sure the fortune that you seek is the fortune that you need.
Re: Plans -- Whitney Lottery 2013
Bryan P #29249 11/27/12 04:56 PM
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Quote:
I agree, the fact that you can decline the dates you dont want is basically rewarding the person who sits and enters hundreds of start dates.

If you are financially responsible for EVERY application you submit if you win makes it a much bigger deterrent if 4 of the 10 applications that person submits hit... think about it


As slow and quirky as the application form was, anyone that patient deserves to get a date!

But what about the part about only one trip for the season?
Are you all willing to only get one trip out of the lottery... to let more groups get at least one trip?



1962
Re: Plans -- Whitney Lottery 2013
1962 #29250 11/27/12 10:40 PM
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Personally I'm ok with having only the option to win one time with the lottery. I have a friend who has been trying since 2005 to get a permit via the lottery and has had to rely on cancellations or walk-ins.

If limiting the lottery to one win per group leader leads to more people winning spots im all for it.

If you want to go more than once then I think its fair to wait for cancellations or do walk in.

Just my 2ยข


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Re: Plans -- Whitney Lottery 2013
Steve C #29258 11/28/12 08:35 AM
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Ok, since they are asking...

Withdraw their application...I think that is a good idea that might be more trouble than it is worth. My guess there there will be fee for withdrawing if implemented.

Login on to account...This makes sense but so does email notification. There is no prefect system. Pick one and support it. There are always going to be folks complaining.

Most requested days...Not a big deal. They are Thursday through Sunday between July 1st and September 30th.

Range of dates...This makes a lot of sense but my guess this is nightmare for IT people.

Unwanted dates...Once the lottery is finished, they should be handled just like other forest reservations. That way you will not need to be a rocket scientist to figure out the rules.

One trip only...this makes sense. Hard to enforce is my guess.

Acceptance...Another sensical idea if used. I think it might help with keeping the low skilled off the mountain early in the quota season.

Unwanted dates...They should all be released immediately after the lottery, not staggered like the past.

Payment...Charges should be authorized upon receipt of the application. This would make people think twice about putting upwards of $1,000 against their credit limits.

One trip per leader...Unworkable. People will just use someone else within the group.

Re: Plans -- Whitney Lottery 2013
wbtravis #29259 11/28/12 10:26 AM
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wbtravis, thanks for the comments. I have two followup comments:

> Range of dates...This makes a lot of sense but my guess this is nightmare for IT people.

I'm in IT, and any software developer worth his or her salt can write the code to step through a calendar and process a sequence of dates.  The bigger deal is changing their online application page to allow for the entry of the first and last dates in each range, but that is not a huge task, either.

> Unwanted dates...Once the lottery is finished, they should be handled just like other forest reservations. That way you will not need to be a rocket scientist to figure out the rules.

I'm not a rocket scientist, so I don't quite understand what you meant here. Maybe you could explain it more? How are other reservations handled... are there refunds, partial refunds, or what?

Re: Plans -- Whitney Lottery 2013
wbtravis #29260 11/28/12 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted By: wbtravis
#2 Unwanted dates...They should all be released immediately after the lottery, not staggered like the past.


I thought all the unwanted dates were released on April 1?




1962
Re: Plans -- Whitney Lottery 2013
Steve C #29261 11/28/12 05:12 PM
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Steve, I'd just throw what's left over into the same basket as Cottonwood Lakes, Onion Valley, Big Pine Lakes, etc. You can reserve what's left for $5...95% of the dates left over will be in May, June and October...the whoever wants a permit can walk in and get one months.

Personally, I'd like to see the whole thing online. On Feb 1st, the world can play, let's see long it takes to crash the Inyo's contractor server. No lottery...just like to old days.


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