Choosing which university to go to is one of the most crucial decisions that a student will be making, potentially one which will determine the direction that their professional life takes from that point forward. It’s no surprise then, that students do copious amounts of research before settling on a university of their choice. They’ll flip through countless prospectuses, survey multiple university websites, and consume pretty much all the information there is about the universities that they’ve shortlisted in their head.
Naturally, it’s a stressful and nerve-wracking time for the students. To aid them during this critical phase, universities have traditionally organized University Open Days.
At an Open Day, students can get an authentic feel of what it would be like to be a part of the institution; they can inquire about the course curricula and the scholarship options available to them from faculty members, explore the campus building and connect with current students to gain more in-depth insights about the quality of student life and academic standards being maintained by your institution.
Limitations of a Physical Open Day
Although highly valued by students as they really do complement their search for a suitable university, physical open days tend to be subject to certain limitations.
- They preclude the participation of international students
- Bearing the travel and accommodation expenses to attend the open day is often not feasible, so international students who might be very keen to apply and learn about the university, have no choice ultimately but to give it a miss
- The substantial overheads, extensive logistical arrangements and capacity constraints make the event organization and execution a rather burdensome endeavor for the hosts
Virtual Open Days, the online counterparts of physical open day events, overcome not only many of the obstacles of conducting the event onsite, but also make the whole experience much more convenient and customized for the visitors. With virtual open days, universities can successfully engage students from around the world. Visitors can take a comprehensive tour of the campus from their home country, online through their desktop or their mobile phone.
UMUC and Royal Holloway University are only some of the many colleges that have leveraged this flexible and dynamic platform to reach a global audience and have found the results to be absolutely worthwhile!
Universities have ample flexibility in deciding how they want to execute a Virtual Open Day. The one aspect central to every format, however, is the degree of engagement you are able to secure. It’s integral that you’re able to deliver a satisfying experience; one that answers the visitors’ pressing questions, provides them with an authentic feel of your campus life and a clear understanding of its academic environment.
To ensure that your virtual open day takes off and lands smoothly, we’ve put together some essential tips that you can use to engage your visitors and make a great case for your institution.
1) Build an Impressive Landing Page
Visitors will be required to register before they can access the event. To form a spectacular first impression, make sure you design a visually captivating and highly functional landing page that promises a captivating experience to the visitors. You could showcase your university’s unique culture through videos and images or experiment with other branding tools for it to reflect your institution’s unique personality. A dull and basic landing page often deters registrations, so invest some thought in crafting a dynamic one!
2) Design an immersive Virtual Environment
A lingering reservation about virtual events is that they can’t match the physical experience, thus preventing an authentic and interactive experience. That, however, is a misconception and to ensure that you provide as real an experience as possible to your visitors, you need to conscientiously design a fantastic and immersive environment that mimics your actual campus. The novelty of a high resolution, 3D interface that is user friendly, filled with information desks, customized exhibitor avatars, and masterfully designed booths can engross the visitors’ attention in an instant and ensure smooth navigability. To parallel the experience of a physical event, hosts can even incorporate 360 degree virtual campus tours to provide panoramic views of the campus.
3) Incorporate rich content into your event
Students have come to your event bursting with curiosity. They’re seeking relevant and detailed insights about the university’s programs, its facilities, it’s work-life balance etc. You can provide them these insights in a compelling fashion by incorporating rich and diverse content formats that can also easily be downloaded. The virtual open day can be made more exciting by sharing enthralling videos and images that showcase the many facets of student life, and informative documents like course outlines, code of conduct, enrollment requirements etc. The best thing about all this content is that it will be accessible on demand, thus giving the visitors a great deal of choice in deciding what they want to view and when.
To further amp up your engagement, invite top faculty members to conduct live webinars and sessions about the institution or any related topic about university life and student issues. These could be interactive sessions that can directly address many of the concerns of the students and can give them a clearer idea about what’s in store for them and how to make the most of it.
4) Engage students using live chat tools
The stellar one-to-one chat feature on the platform can allow visitors to instantly reach your reps and have questions answered in real-time. The students come with specific questions in their mind, and the whole endeavor would be fruitless if you’re unable to answer them. Universities can thus ensure a higher engagement score for their Virtual Open Day by collecting inquiries and offering personalized conversations with your reps that can dramatically improve the chances of prospective students submitting their applications.
Pro-tip: Try to make your event as inclusive as you can. A common feature in many such events is the lack of consideration for those who are visually impaired or have hearing disabilities. By incorporating page text narrations and enabling changes in the color schemes and font sizes, the event can cater to a wider audience, ensuring that anyone interested isn’t just able to attend, but also gains from the event.
A Virtual Open Day has the potential to completely transform university enrollment. Not only can the Universities reach a global audience of students and their parents, but they can also ensure the utmost convenience for their visitors, while also escaping the logistical pain points of physical events. It’s a win-win situation for both, and one that drastically improves conversions. The key to a sensational Virtual Open Day, however, is engagement, and if you’ve heeded all the tips mentioned above, you can sit back and relax- your virtual open day will be a smashing success with the students!
At vFairs.com, we strive to build a top-class online event platform that will help event organizers make memorable connections with their target audience. We’re obsessed with taking out the hassle normally associated with physical events and leaving organizers and exhibitors to focus on what’s most important: engagement with the audience.