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In 2023 we did a pretty thorough evaluation of Amilia by SmartRec for our makerspace. Here are a few things we learned.
- Machine Reservations: We made each machine a Facility in Amilia. The presentation to our users was the best of all options. The downside is that we can't limit reservations to members or to members with certain Skills. Amilia is considering an enhancement to add this feature. We'll deal with this by exception.
- Activities? We considered making each machine an Activity. They can be restricted to only members with specified Skills. Activities can also be tied to a Facility so that when the Activity is scheduled the Facility is also booked. However, Amilia required us to pre-populate every possible reservation slot (a lot of work) and those pre-populated slots would book the Facility, even if no member has booked the slot. Also, from a member perspective the user interface for Activities with reservation slots every hour of every day is pretty ugly to deal with.
- Private Lessons? Another option. We'd make each machine both a Staff member. Signing up for a private lesson would book the Staff member. The end user interface for Private Lessons is not bad, but we could not limit it to members or members with certain Skills.
- Multi-Pass? A way to make the checkout easier when reserving equipment and to control how many times a member could book a piece of equipment in a week. However, they do not auto-renew so we'd have to reissue them every week.
In the end, using Facilities is the best way to go for us.
- Memberships: Pretty robust feature set. We use Subscriptions that renew every month and can only be cancelled by contacting us.
- Classes: These are Activities in Amilia. Our training team really likes the feature set. (They've been using Activity Hero.) Classes are grouped by Program. We set up a Program named "catalog" and put every class we offer in it. Each quarter we will copy the "catalog" program to a Program with a name like "Winter 2023". Then we'll set up schedules for each class and make those without scheduled sessions "hidden". When ready we'll make Winter 2023 "visible" in our Amilia Store.
- Store: Everything gets sold through an Amilia branded web page called our Store. Our logo is there, but so is Amilia's. We can embed the main store widget in our website in an iframe and that makes it look more like ours, but the customization of that embedded widget is limited. However, each class and membership (and Facility for that matter) has a deep link you can discover and use that on your webpage if you prefer. Those links will have to be refreshed as you schedule new Classes; they provide an API for doing this. The link will take a user directly to the correct web page in the our Store. It's not perfect, but will work for us.
- API: They offer a read-only API with robust security. You can use the API to get info on members, programs, facilities, etc, etc, etc. They also have webhooks that can call out to your own website for processing of certain events (such as a new membership being sold).