With a hangar filling, waves of fabric lapping up a fair 75% of the packing mat, and beads of sweat building visibly on each brow, ditching my manifest command post, I left to get a glimpse of how check-in was faring. I expected to see a long, winding line of skydivers both impatient and exasperated waiting in the sun. To my surprise, I find the line is a measly 5 jumpers deep.
How could this be?
Ah! Perhaps this is the Merit/Burble integration is at work! We will wait and see.
Photo: Laura Jane Burgess, Office Manager, Skydive Carolina
We made it on smooth seas safely to the harbor of the event's completion.
It was luscious locks, lots of rock, and head banging good times. It was CarolinaFest 2019.
For staff and volunteers, CarolinaFest was the culmination of tireless preparation and dedication put forth to execute an event to be proud of. For fun jumpers, it is the highly anticipated southeastern boogie that aims to knock their socks off each year.
For me (long term Manifest, recent Office Manager), CarolinaFest is the week I dread as much as I look forward to it. I've been a part of CarolinaFest for six years, and for the last four years,
I've seen the event through from planning to fruition. Each year, the energy of CarolinaFest is palpable, but there's always the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Photo by Daniel Schiermeyer
Each year, jumpers are stoked to finally be at the event they've been looking forward to for months. There's an audible buzz of excitement. Skydivers arise bright-eyed and bushy-tailed early Tuesday morning ready and raring to go!
In the past, we relied on paper waivers, calls to other dz's to verify currency, and photocopies of USPA cards attached to sheets with jumper information, often, illegibly scribbled on them. In manifest, before Burble, it was a mess of paper tickets, stacks of envelopes, egg timers, and irritated jumpers.
Before Merit the check-in process was something just short of a fiasco. So much so, yearly, I sent out a warning:
"Our internet is suspect at best, we wouldn't want you stuck watching your friends jump while you stand feet firmly planted on the ground in the sweltering South Carolina sun, struggling to track down credentials needed for check in. Have your paperwork ready!"
Photo by Dan Schiermeyer
When we say fiasco, we are talking a line that filled the porch and spilled down over the deck into the gravel walkway-a queue of nearly 20-30 jumpers. It was a cacophony of grumbles, rows of frustrated fun jumpers, and a sea of furrowed brows.
Both temperatures and tensions rise as the day goes on. By two or three in the afternoon, when the line still seems to be a mobius strip, it's easy for the individuals on both sides of the window to be a bit irritated.
But, this year, with the Merit/Burble integration, the pace from check-in to freefall was sweet music to jumper's ears. By removing several extra steps of verification and streamlining check-in, the Merit/Burble integration really changed the game. Here's how the Merit/Burble integration made life great at CarolinaFest 2019.
As the first large scale boogie to make use of the Burble/Merit integration, the benefits were seen most readily at registration. Typically, registration is where the kinks are felt and then exponentially magnified to affect the entire operation. An extra wait time of 10-20 minutes spent at check-in while we track down someone's missing USPA credentials or proof of a last logged jump may seem marginal. However, it quickly compounds when it happens 2 or 3 (or 15) times to be felt farther down the line. The result is wasted daylight and a reduced amount of time jumpers have to spend in the air, which in turn means less money spent and a dip in the potential profits of the boogie.
As a drop zone that utilizes Burble, prior to CarolinaFest, all attending sport jumpers were urged to download the Burble App and complete the Merit integration. The steps were simple:
Voila! Jumper credentials are auto-populated into the individual's Jumper Detail.
Photo by Dan Schiermeyer
When these jumpers strolled up to check-in, their information was up to date, and aside from adding money to their account, they were good to go. Plus, on the jumper side, no real tech savvy was required, rather, there were just a few straightforward steps to follow.
From the seamless, swift check-in to the simplified self-manifest, it was clearly seen how Merit and Burble made life great for all of us here at CarolinaFest 2019.
One of the best testaments to the integration's success is that even with boogie stats like 337 loads flown and 6749 jumps made, both attendees and staff were consistently remarking "things are going so smoothly." And honestly, even in my six years of participating in the event, I've never seen the boogie go so well.