Working towards the perfect bookings

We recently built and deployed a controversial new feature.  The ability for a staffer to decline a shift that they have been booked on.  It’s a simple feature, when a staffer has been booked they receive an email that details the booking and asks them to either confirm that they are committed to fulfilling the booking, or the opportunity to decline the booking.  Read more about Booking Confirmations here.

‘Staffers can decline a shift after they’ve been booked on it! Outrageous!’

I understand the consternation, why would you want to be able to give the staffers that option?  Well, the option already exists.  If a staffer wants to decline a booking they either email the manager or call in to the office…or worse still, they don’t turn up to the activity at all.

This is the difference, an agency that doesn’t use the ‘confirm shift’ feature will see their staff schedule like this.

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They are none the wiser as to whether all of these staffers are actually intent on fulfilling the booking or not.  They’re also not measuring the booking reliability of any of these staffers.

The agency that uses the shift confirmation feature has much more information:

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They can easily see that two of their staff have confirmed that they will fulfil the booking whilst one of them has rejected the shift.  The manager has been informed of the shift rejection and will be able to action a change before the job goes live.


We believe that it’s better to have a structured communication in place that requires the staffer to double check the date of the booking and gives them the option to decline the booking early, giving your team the time to rebook the activity.  Furthermore, by having a structured workflow in place you’re able to measure the reliability of a staffer when they are booked, gradually building an accurate risk profile against a staffer.

This is immense power and very exciting for the future of staffing.  With this new data field we’re going to be able to blend the staffers ‘booking reliability’ (how committed they are to bookings) with their activity performance scores (how they perform on a job) and give you the clearest insight in to the risk profile of a staffer.

So far, using data generated by our trialists (early adoption customers who have this feature turned on), 3.6% of shifts have been declined this way with an interesting variety of reasons given.

  • “I think I made a mistake when selecting the days I’m available to work. I’m only available the 20th of November, and the 2nd and 4th of December”
  • “Hey guys I’m so sorry I’ve made a mistake and am not available on the Friday 22nd Nov.”
  • “have a two day training event on the 19th and 20th that has just come up , very sorry to cancel”
  • “I could not be present because I planned an event on this date five weeks ago”
  • “I don’t have childcare for that day so wont be able to make it”
  • “I am afraid I am unable to work this shift as I have an urgent and important university meeting which I cannot miss.  Sorry”

We’re very excited about what this feature means for the future of booking staff.  Imagine being able to book staff knowing that Watu has stacked the search result based on the risk profile of your staff, the lowest risk staff first, and as a result, increasing the compliance on your work (reducing down dropouts, late shows etc.) and ensuring that you deliver excellence for your client.  Awesome.

Booking Confirmations

You’re booking large numbers of staff, geographically dispersed over great distances on hundreds of projects through the year.  That’s a lot of variables to have to keep under control.  We realise that and so we’re working towards increasing due diligence across the booking process, giving your managers more information at their finger tips and giving you greater knowledge about what your staff intend to do whilst working for you.

One such power tool is the newly released booking confirmation feature.  By turning this feature on, you’ll be informed on whether your staff have confirmed the shift that you booked them on and intend to turn up, or whether they’ve decided to decline the booking since you booked them and wont be turning up.

That’s real knowledge, and knowledge is power after all.

Now when you book a staffer, if you have this feature turned on, the booking confirmation e-mail will contain 2 buttons for staffers to either Confirm that they accept the booking, or to Reject it.

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While you’re waiting for this confirmation, you will see your booked staffers with a yellow sign, indicating that they haven’t confirmed yet.


And once they confirm or reject, they will show up in green or red, respectively.  As you can see in the screenshot below, Winona Ryder has confirmed that she will attend, Robin Williams has rejected his booking (so you should find someone else), and Ryan Gosling hasn’t confirmed yet.


We have also added a handy tool to help you when this happens, you can easily e-mail all the staffers that haven’t yet confirmed, to remind them to do so:


Finally, you will also get an e-mail if a staffers rejects, with an explanation on why they are rejecting, so that you can adjust their booking, or find a different staffer.








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But why would you have a feature that enables staffers to decline a shift so easily?

We ask why you wouldn’t?

Knowing that  a staffer wants to decline a shift is as important, if not more so, than knowing that they are committed to that shift.  By knowing that someone has double booked themselves or has been offered better paid work, gives you the luxury of time to replace them on the booking.  Furthermore, by making it part of the workflow, we’re able to measure the reliability of your staffers, eventually giving you exact data driven insight on to an individuals reliability score.  That is awesome.

If you would like to trial this new feature.  Let us know and we’ll switch it on for you.

Publishing job roles

If you use Watu, you have access to your own private job market, a place to publish upcoming work opportunities where your staff can log in and review all open opportunities, check that the dates and job particulars are to their liking, and then apply for that work.  This publishing and application work flow is popular and, according to our data, delivers a slightly better performing booking than those bookings that are generated in the old fashioned way of outbound phone calls.

Today we’ve made a significant upgrade to the job board feature: Being able to modify the publication of jobs on a role per role basis.  This included several other changes that improve how staffers see jobs, so let’s go through them one by one.

Better job information

Now when you create a new job, you will see two new fields: Staffer Title and Booked Description.


  • We have separated “Activity name” from “Staffer Title”. Activity name is the internal name of the job, only seen by managers. Staffers will never see the Activity Name, they will only see the Staffer Title.
  • Another highly requested feature, the “Booked Description” will only be seen by staffers who have been booked into the job, so you can put in more detailed information here that doesn’t need to or shouldn’t be known by people that haven’t been booked.  Remember that Watu automatically populates location, dates, shift times and money in to the auto generated booking confirmation.

You can now also change these for each role in the job. By default, all roles in the job have the same description and booked description, but when editing the job information, you can change them on a role by role basis:


Publishing to the Job Board

After publishing the job, as usual, you can set the Advert Title and Content. As opposed to before, these now only show when looking at the list of all jobs in the job board. If a staffer is looking at the details of a job, they will see the descriptions mentioned above, instead of the Ad Title / Content.


But now you can also choose to not publish one of the roles (using the blue toggle to the right of each role). This has been a hugely requested feature, since a lot of agencies have a problem where most of their staffers will apply to the Event Manager role even if they’re not qualified to do the job, which generates a considerable amount of noise in the applications. If this is your case, you can now choose to not publish the Event Manager position, and just book it on your own.


You can also, just like for job descriptions, modify the Advert Title and Content to be different for each role in the job.

And last but not least, you have the option of only showing the advert to people that have that role in their profile. If you experience the situation mentioned above, but you still want to have Event Managers applying to the job, you can use this option. If you check this box, only people that you have manually marked as having this role (or that acquired the role automatically by being booked in a job in that position) will be able to see the advert. Everybody else won’t, so you won’t get job applications from people that are not qualified for the job.

On to the next update!  Onwards and upwards.