Making society management easier

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Hive, a new system in society management, has made its college-wide debut this Freshers’ Week. The system, which runs through a free app for students and through an online site for committee members and organisers, has many advantages over the methods that currently exist, according to one of the company’s co-founders, Orme de Saint Hilaire. A recent graduate from Trinity’s Management Science and Information System Studies (MSISS) course, he and his team took part in the first iteration of TCD’s Launchbox, and spent the summer of 2014 developing the new, improved system in anticipation of Freshers’ Week.

“One of our main reasons for developing this system was to help international students” de Saint Hilaire said, recalling the Freshers’ Week he missed due to coming from abroad, and the hassle of the subsequent weeks spent hunting down the appropriate committee member in order to join societies. With the new system, students can join from anywhere and at any point during the year, using the app, and can even pay their membership fees through an online payment system, Stripe. Listing the benefits to societies, he said the system allows officers to “understand their members better, create events and then market them through email, Twitter and Facebook announcements, to increase their reach in the college community, and to sell tickets to their events online.”

One of the major advantages of this system is the use of “Tags” to gather further information about a member when they sign-up. Prospective members enter their email address, and an email is automatically sent to them, inviting them to join the society group on Hive, and asking them to create a Hive profile if they have not done so already. The committee member signing them up can then add “Tags”, such as “Science”, “Ordinary Member”, and “1st Year”, to create a more detailed member database. Two-click emails then allow committee members to tailor emails to certain people based on their interests. For example, an email detailing an event which might have particular relevance to 4th Year Law students could be sent only to those to whom it would apply. The emails are also addressed to you specifically and have a clean well designed layout, with the societies customisable branding, making them feel a lot more professional.

Following the success of the ticket sales part of the system at the BESS Ball last year, the team have been working hard to improve the experience from both ends of the transaction. Students can buy tickets through the app, again using Stripe, an incredibly easy to use payment provider, described by de Saint Hilaire as “being like PayPal, only better”. From the society end, committee members can control the amount of tickets on sale through Hive, create Early Bird and Normal pricing options, and even add an event hashtag to allow attendees to chat about the event in the build-up to it. Having posted the event, the analytics dashboard allows the society to track how quickly tickets are selling, and helps them see when another promotion email might be best employed. Tickets purchased are sent to the members email and are scanned at the door using any standard QR scanner, making the need for booking references and printed tickets, which are easily lost, unnecessary.

Hive makes its profit through charging a nominal fee on every ticket sold, half of which goes to Stripe and half to Hive itself. At 5% of the booking fee plus 30 cent, it is not an unjust figure, especially as the app itself is free to download. De Saint Hilaire imagines that societies will learn to build the booking fee into the price of the event, so students are not disillusioned when they are charged the booking fee. However, the majority of students asked would happily pay a fee to avoid having to queue for tickets, and to guarantee entry into an event.

In terms of use so far, Trinity Ents have entered into a Flagship Partnership with Hive for this year. Ents Officer, Finn Murphy, said that “so far we’ve had absolutely no problems with the service. It’s a significantly more efficient way of selling tickets then the previous Stripe API being used on the website and miles ahead of queuing for tickets. Hopefully, it’ll allow a much easier way of students both seeing what events are on and to guarantee entry. ” He mentioned that it was a positive thing that the system was designed by Trinity students, saying “we’re a community and part of the aspect of the college community is keeping business within Trinity where possible.” All of the Ents events for Freshers’ Week are on sale through Hive, a significant test of the system’s ability to deliver on its promises.

Despite the fact that the technology employed by Hive is not necessarily ground-breaking, the application and the presentation of the features outlined above makes the system is something that is likely to become a staple of the way Trinity’s societies are run in the future.