Manage a Waiting List

When registration for a program is at capacity, create a waiting list to automatically capture the overflow, and easily register people from the waiting list if a spot becomes available.

A program reaches capacity when the number of registrations equals the Max Person Capacity, or when all available Rooms have been filled.

When either of these limits is reached, Retreat Guru will automatically prevent new registrations. Instead of the online registration form, Retreat Gru will automatically display the add me to the waiting list form.

Enable the waiting list feature

Enable the waiting list feature on a program-by-program basis at Programs > Edit Program > Registration > Capacity and Waiting List.

You will likely want to Restrict registration to people on the waiting list. When this option is checked, and there are people on the waiting list, only those people on the waiting list will be able to register. 

For example, for the Goat Yoga program:

  • 24 is the max person capacity.
  • 24 people have registered - it's full.
  • 3 people are on the waiting list.
  • You have checked Restrict registration to people on the waiting list.

One participant calls to say that they can no longer attend. Your registrar cancels their registration. Even though the yoga program has a max capacity of 24, and there are now only 23 people registered, new online registrations will not be accepted.

Why? Because Restrict registration to people on the waiting list is checked, and there are people on the waiting list. In this example, the viewer's only option will be to add their name to the waiting list.

Waiting list questions

First Name, Last Name, and Email are required questions on the add me to the waiting list form.

You can configure other questions to appear on the add me to the waiting list form at Questions > Edit Question > Advanced Options.

Best practice is to choose just a few other questions - keep the form short to encourage completion.

Some additional questions to consider:

  • Mobile phone number - many centers prefer to contact waiting list members by phone to confirm that they are still interested and available to register.
  • Gender identification - if the only available rooms for this program are in the women’s dormitory, you will want to consider only persons on the waiting list who identify as female.
  • Days notice required - for residential programs, you may wish to ask "How many days notice do you need?" If a person on the waiting list indicated that they need at least 7 days to arrange travel plans, and a spot becomes available 3 days before the program start date, you'll likely not want to offer that person registration - they will not be able to get there in time!

Text customizations for the waiting list

You may customize certain titles, notes and text that appear on the waiting list form on a global level - affecting all programs - and override these global settings on a program-by-program basis.

To set default global text customizations for the waiting list, so to Reg Settings > Theme > Text Customizations > Customize wait list. If you leave a field blank at the global level, the default Retreat Guru text will be used.

To override the global settings for a specific program, go to Programs > Edit Program > Registration > Text Customizations > Wait List Customizations. If you leave a field blank at the program level, the text from Reg Settings (global) will be used. 

Manually add a person to the waiting list

Go to Programs > Edit Program > Registration > Capacity & Waiting List.

Click on the Example link adjacent to the Enable a waiting list option.

The add me to the waiting list form will appear, and you can complete the form on behalf of another person.

Remove a person from the waiting list

While on the Abandoned Registrations / Waiting List view, select the leftmost checkboxes next to the person(s) you wish to remove from the waiting list, then from the Bulk Actions drop-down menu, choose Bulk Delete.

View the waiting list

Go to Programs > Abandoned Registrations / Waiting List to see all people on the waiting list for all programs.

Or, from the Programs view, enable Wait List in Screen Options. On a specific program listing, click on the link in the Wait List column to view the waiting list filtered for that program.

Register someone from the waiting list

Before a person on the waiting list can register, a spot must be available in the program - the number of people registered must be less than the max capacity.

In other words, before a person can register, you (as a registrar) must either cancel an existing registration or increase the program's max capacity.

As a registrar, you may choose to contact the waitlisted person by phone, and Click to register on the Waiting List view to make a Quick Add Reg. Once the Quick Add Reg is completed, you can email a link for guest edit details so that they may complete any remaining fields for their registration.

Or, you can email a special registration link to the person(s) you select from the waiting list. By default, the Send Email box associated with each line (person) will be checked for those who have not yet received an email. To quickly uncheck all people, click on Clear Form in the Filters and Reports area.

In the example below, we have selected only JoeBob Woodsman to receive an email that includes a link to register for the program.

You may use the standard email template or make changes to the email prior to sending. When ready, click on Send Bulk Email to send the email.

You may use (or modify) the standard waiting list notification email configured at Reg Settings > Email > Wait List Notification Email. Or, you can create one or more custom templates at Reg Settings > Email > Email Templates > Custom Email Templates. For each bulk mailing, you may select the email template used.

The special template code that will appear as a link in the email to allow your selected person(s) to register for an available spot is {{wail_list_reg_form}}.

A sample email appears below.

After the email has been sent, the date and time that the email was sent will appear in the Last Contact column - a blank field means that the person has not yet been sent an email.

Consider a 2-step approach

Many centers opt for a 2-step approach when managing the waiting list.

The registrar first calls or emails to confirm that the person is still interested and available.

If the registrar contacts the person by phone, and the person confirms interest and availability, the registrar enters a Quick Add registration. The registrar then sends the person the special link for guest to edit details so that the person can complete their registration and online payment.

If the registrar contacts the person by email, the registrar typically does not include the link to register in the first are you still available email. Only if the person responds "Yes" does the registrar send a second email that does include the link to register.

With this 2-step approach, people who do not respond, or are no longer available, do not receive a link to register, thus limiting the distribution of links to only those who are highly likely to complete.

Automatic update of Click to register link 

The Click to register link will automatically change to View registration when the registration has been completed. However, this link will update only if the Click to register link on the waiting list view is used to make a registration, or if the waitlisted person uses the {{wail_list_reg_form}} link in an email.

The Click to register link will not be updated if the registration is completed in another manner.

This automatic update makes it easy for you to see which people on the waiting list have registered, and which are still waiting.


People will remain on the waiting list even after they are registered. This will assist you in reporting on program popularity. When a person has registered, the Click to register link will automatically change to View Registration.

By analyzing the waiting list, you can determine helpful data points like:

  • How many days in advance of the program start date did the waiting list begin?
  • How many people were unable to register due to limited program capacity?

From the Abandoned Registrations / Waiting List view, select Export Results to download a CSV file of the waiting list for analysis using an application like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.


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