Evolving Consumer Trends

MIT Recreation

How MIT Recreation Works to Improve Service Delivery with Big Data and Transaction Assessment

Facilitating a transaction is perhaps the very first service Recreation provides a new member or program participant. The technology associated with all transactions (cash, credit, mobile, etc.) has evolved drastically in recent years, and as a result, consumer purchasing trends continue to change. Forward thinking Campus Recreation programs will begin to assess the transactional process much like any service or program provided is assessed.

From 1-click ordering to paid search advertising, to EFT, mobile wallet, and web analytics, the commercial enterprises are perfecting the use of consumer big data to enhance the consumer experience while simultaneously generating increased revenue. The process of transacting is becoming easier for the consumer, and the business is realizing increased demand for programs and services.

What if Campus Recreation began to do the same? What if Campus Recreation responded to evolving consumer purchasing patterns by putting the right programs and services in the right place at the right time and with the right incentives? How might that allow Campus Recreation to increase membership, program participation, and ancillary sales affiliated with pro shops, day passes and locker or towel service? In order to achieve this, Campus Recreation needs to run its own big data analysis.

MIT Recreation, managed by HealthFitness, set out on its own Big Data project in 2015. Using data from 2013-2015, MIT Recreation examined more than one-million web views, over forty thousand online transactions, and charted the changes associated with all three merchant accounts: point of sales (POS), online sales (OLS) and monthly membership billing (EOM). It was learned that consumer purchasing patterns for MIT Recreation programs and services closely mirrored that of the consumer trends being reported by the National Retail Federation. The chart below summarizes the change in.


MIT Recreation


Furthermore, despite not having a mobile responsive website, MIT Recreation observed a significant upswing in mobile and tablet web traffic from 2013-2015.


MIT Recreation


These first two charts confirmed that patrons seeking MIT Recreation programs and services prefer to browse online using a mobile device and are increasingly choosing online payment and monthly reoccurring electronic payment options vs. the traditional over the counter or in person transaction.

Next, MIT Recreation sought to examine conversion rates. A conversion rate is the percentage of users, who take a desired action. In this instance, MIT Recreation wanted to know how many web browsers become web buyers. To do this, MIT Recreation examined aggregate transactional trends according to month of the year, day of the week and time of day. This is when the data really became interesting.

MIT Recreation

MIT Recreation now knows, that members and prospective members are most likely to register online for a program or purchase a membership in the months of August, September, October and December, on a Monday and between the hours of 8am and 4pm. Why is this important? With this information, MIT Recreation can better:

  • Share important program and facility updates when members are online
  • Create more intentional and effective marketing
  • Increase the effectiveness of the call-to-action
  • Monitor your membership transactional preferences so that your business operations can respond appropriately
  • Ensure appropriate investment in and delivery of transactional services and equipment
  • Preserve, protect and grow current transaction options

While the results of this in-house big data project at MIT Recreation yields incredibly useful information, it should be noted that these trends are specific to the MIT community, and that there are likely unique factors across the country that would produce variances to these themes. Remember, the transaction is likely the very first service our members experience when subscribing to programs and services. Analyzing and assessing the data and trends associated with our transactional services will become an increasingly important component of Campus Recreation’s business operations.

Tim Mertz is the Director Recreational Sports at MIT.


Emily Harbourne was a previous editor for Campus Rec Magazine.

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