Universities recognise the importance of extracurricular activities for student wellbeing. Jo Blackett, business development manager at the University of Bristol, says: “We know participating in sporting activities can really help students to settle into university life, so encouraging and enabling this is a top priority for us.”
Sporting facilities and programming in Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) can be extensive, serving diverse communities, and are, therefore, inherently complex to manage. Nottingham has three main sports centres, 75 sports clubs, over 220 group exercise classes a week, and millions of visits annually. Bristol’s very wide service offering caters for students, staff and children. Service delivery also includes key aspects of student welfare, from outreach to halls of residence to monitoring participation.
“A big part of improving participation is improving the user experience,” Blackett explains. “From ease of booking, to accessing facilities and seamless payment, we want to make the entire customer journey frictionless, easy and accessible for all students, to encourage participation.”
A key part of the universities’ strategies to increase sporting participation among students is leveraging Legend’s One-System One-Solution software.
Both universities cite the breadth of information and reporting capability as a key benefit. Nottingham uses Legend to provide managers with dashboard snapshots of their individual Key Performance Indicators, to drive day-to-day decision making.
Marcus Spain, assistant director of sport, University of Nottingham, explains: “We can track occupancy levels by space and user group. We can also track frequency of use, enabling us to spot students that we may be worried about, and with whom we need to re-engage.”
Legend’s business intelligence capability is a key feature at Bristol too. Blackett says: “Going from a place where we had to manually count bookings, to an instant huge depth of information by class, club, location, and by many different demographics, was simply amazing.”
Legend’s ease of use for both staff and students is a key factor, while the single sign-on between Legend and the student database is vital. “Membership is linked to a student’s university account, so they can seamlessly make bookings or opt for pay-as-you-go, without having to create a login and password,” explains Arron Godfrey, deputy business development manager at Bristol. “In addition, Legend enables flexible payments, including monthly direct debit, which students often prefer as an alternative to annual payments”.
Students typically prefer minimal interaction in accessing facilities. Legend’s integrated Access Control Management (ACM) enables easy access to facilities and by-passes reception. This meets student preferences while tightening control, which has enabled Nottingham to control access remotely and Bristol to recoup income.
Nottingham’s Spain says: “We use ACM to switch turnstiles on and off in different areas of our facilities, which means we can allow only specific customers into certain areas at specific times, which is incredibly useful.”
Bristol recently trialled Legend’s Customer Communications module within its sports medicine clinic, with an automated customer journey. “We've noticed a big change in behaviour,” says Godfrey. “Customers are not turning up late and they're paying on time.”
Legend’s responsiveness to customer needs was an important aspect for the University of Nottingham. Spain cites the development of Legend's Clubs and Interest Groups functionality as a key example. “It was added to Legend’s development roadmap for us. It was important to students and is now a core component of the solution,” he says.
Similarly, Bristol’s Blackett says Legend’s Interest Groups functionality allowed over 120 student groups to access their training session information. Critically, attendance information is also used to improve facility allocation.
The Journey Continues
Current projects focus on further improvements to the customer journey. With students’ eager adoption of smartphone apps, Legend’s native app with its customer journey benefits, classes and hall activities bookings is key. Another project leverages Legend’s leading role in OpenActive's Open Data Initiative, working with Nottingham and third-party innovators to advertise spaces outside term times and drive additional revenues.
Both universities play leading roles in Legend’s Higher Education Working Group, a forum for the sharing of ideas about product development.
Spain says: “We've been actively requesting additional features and functionality over the past few years and Legend’s dogged capacity to deliver a continuous stream of improvements that meet our needs has been really impressive. "We have a high degree of trust and collaboration with Legend. Conversations are honest, productive, positive and deliver benefits to the university.”
Crucially, both universities have realised their objectives to increase participation. Godfrey concludes: “We've refurbished our gym and refreshed our offer, but Legend has been a big part of our success at massively driving up participation over the last few years.” Spain agrees: “Legend has grown and strengthened our position within the university in terms of the quality of service we can provide.”