The best virtual events are those that have unique ways to keep their audiences engaged. A work from home lifestyle is draining as it is, without the added boredom of watching videos in an endless loop. Organizers can definitely spice up their events by including a happy hour, a  game night, team building activities and social media engagement. With the right virtual events platform, imagination is your only limit to hosting the best virtual events. 

It is always interesting to see what other organizers did differently. They offer inspiration and ideas to how you can host your own best virtual event.  

Here are some of the more popular virtual event types and some of their unique examples! 

Disclaimer: Virtual events are those that are conducted online! The following events are all conducted virtually.

Table of Contents

  1. Virtual Open Days
  2. Virtual Education Fairs
  3. Virtual Conferences
  4. Virtual Trade Show
  5. Virtual Job Fairs

1. Virtual Open Days 

What Are Virtual Open Days?

A virtual open day is  the online version of a school open day or an open house. More often than not, this is the case for educational institutions. Schools or universities open their campus grounds to prospective students and their families. They can immerse themselves in the environment to learn more about it. Whether they think it suits their personal goals and/or lifestyle and preferences. 

What Are the Goals For Virtual Open Days?

The main idea for a virtual open day is for prospective students to truly immerse themselves in the environment. To engage with it and see themselves as future students on campus.

The major goals can be to:

  • Drive student applications up
  • Draw more students to their campus and familiarize them with its facilities 
  • Create informal channels of communication between students, parents, faculty and administration
  • Promote the courses offered on campus 
  • Provide information on university housing 
  • Allow students to meet prospective peers

What Common Key Features Help Hit Those Goals?

You will need to immerse participants from afar to learn about your campus via your virtual open day platform. Creating a virtual environment that replicates the site and facilities is the best way to do this. Include campus grounds, libraries, sport fields and stadiums, laboratories, etc.. 

The virtual auditorium can be utilized by faculty members and department heads to talk about the different courses and programs they offer. Here live streams or pre-recorded webinars can be held that attendees can tune into. Attendees can even schedule times with university representatives they wish to speak with. Networking and chat rooms can further be utilized for students to engage with professors and peers. 

In order to showcase the different programs, student associations and campus benefits, an exhibit hall with booths would be the perfect tool. Each booth would be hosted by a representative or videos to further elaborate. 

All brochures, pamphlets and other information would be available for participants to collect in their swag bag in order to “take home”.

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Best Virtual Open Day From The Past Year

The best virtual events are those that might offer a more immersive experience. The Edith Cowan University, Australia did just that! It provided real life 3D visuals of the campus exterior. Upon a click you enter the campus and into its virtual lobby. 

edu-gif

ECU created a virtual campus tour tab. Here you had 360 degree views of various campus sites. Once attendees click on it they can move around and view the entire space. ECU even included their campus grounds as the exhibit hall! The open day made you feel as if you were right there on the actual campus site.

360-degree-views-ecu

2. Virtual Education Fairs

What Are Virtual Education Fairs?

Unlike an open day, a virtual education fair is not limited to one institution but includes many. This is an exhibition of sorts. Where prospective students (and their families) can come to meet representatives from different universities & colleges. They learn about the different opportunities available to them as they look into post-secondary options. Students can gain advice about how to apply for different programs, scholarships and financial aid. They can also attend workshops and seminars.

What Are the Goals For Virtual Education Fairs?

The internet is a big hole of information that is oftentimes hard to steer through for young minds. It is impossible for students to research their perfect match with little idea of what opportunities await them. College applications are stressful enough! 

The goal for virtual education fairs is:

  • To provide students with as much information as possible about various institutions 
  • Have university representatives and students meet at a more human and accessible level
  • A way for the institutions to market themselves and all they have to offer
  • To encourage students to learn more about the options available to them 

What Common Key Features Help Hit Those Goals?

A virtual education fair usually requires booths where different universities showcase themselves. They usually provide information in the form of pamphlets, brochures and other resources. Students need to be able to schedule appointments with different counselors. This way they can have their questions answered. They can also use a matchmaking tool that would benefit students and counselors, in order to save time. A virtual education fair can offer workshops for online resources available, application tips and tricks and even options for financial assistance. 

Best Virtual Education Fair From The Past Year

EDLANTA, a Bulgarian education consultancy firm, was challenged to keep their annual education fair going, in the midst of physical restrictions. They not only managed to begin use of virtual event platforms but created an easy to navigate event, one that both parents and students would be able to steer through. For this purpose, they further incorporated multilingual features. Thus, parents who spoke the native language and students who studied in English  were able to navigate the event. 

In keeping with the language barriers, they even divided their exhibition hall through color coding for easy accessibility. The colors also represented different countries, as the EDLANTA wanted to encourage international applications. Each booth provided all the information students needed about courses or the university itself. They could arrange for scheduled calls.

In order to keep students engaged, EDLANTA also provided pre-recorded webinars that were available on demand. This way students could chime in whenever convenient to them and browse through the event.

3. Virtual Conferences

What Are Virtual Conferences?

A virtual conference is an event where individuals from the same profession meet. They evaluate current and future activities within their industry. Here they network and exchange ideas. This could include individuals in business, in education, science, medicine and so on. At such an event, people find networking opportunities, exhibit some of their research or products and host sessions. This meeting can be a regional one or global one. It all depends on the scope of the topic, or whether you have regional or  international participants. A conference can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. 

Types of conferences can include:

  1. Academic conferences
  2. Corporate conferences
  3. Training conferences
  4. Solution/goal oriented conferences

What Are the Goals For Virtual Conferences?

The word “conference” literally means “to bring together”. For this reason, the goal of a virtual conference is:

  • To bring together like minded individuals to meet one another 
  • To discuss an issue or goal at hand. 
  • To work towards a solution or broader social change. 

What Common Key Features Help Hit Those Goals?

In order to push for change or a solution, conferences require participants to reflect on various themes or on existing information. For this reason, it is usually structured in different ways. You can have flexible presentation options. These can be in the form of films, workshops, discussions or interactive experiences. People can even display their posters, or other media in the poster halls. Opportunities are provided for people to network with one another and share their ideas. This includes both audio and video chats. To facilitate this, you can have an attendee searchable database. You can even include Q&A and polls for further engagement.

Best Virtual Conference From The Past Year

The SciFest by The Science Spark was a virtual conference built to look fantastical. Most likely a way to spark wonder and curiosity in children. The exterior lobby was a portal, once you entered the portal you were transported to a world of color and vigor! The lobby even had trees infused into the environment. With a fountain that resembled the fountain at Singapore airport. Giving it a true feel of a scientific museum. It’s where Dr. Who meets Willy Wonka meets Disney!

sci-fest-lobby

The ‘Exhibit Portal’ in the lobby had icons that took you to the different exhibit halls related to themes such as biology, earth science, mathematics etc. Each exhibit hall had its own design to match the theme! If you are in the natural sciences hall you feel like you are Indianna Jones. Whereas in engineering and technology you feel like Star Trek is a reality not far away. They even had gender specific rooms to showcase women in aviation or a girls invent lab.

sci-fest-exhibit-booth

scie-fest-exhibit-booth-2

They made use of the poster wall to showcase their student project gallery. What is more, they created a specific section for educator resources. For some sessions they included downloadable puzzles and worksheets that attendees made use of while attending the live session.

4. Virtual Trade Shows

What Are Virtual Trade Shows?

Trade associations from various industries put together an exhibition for companies to showcase their newest products and services to consumers and other businesses. A virtual trade show is the same thing, only online. This creates greater global reach. Many different companies come under one (virtual) roof in order to do this. However, this expo is not necessarily open to the public. It is largely for the press, industry experts and other company representatives. Attendees are given special access to various features, special pricing or ticketing tiers and valuable information with regards to the product or industry.  

What Are the Goals For Virtual Trade Shows?

  • Encourage lead generation through exhibiting company sales 
  • To create buzz and excitement for new innovative solutions in the industry. 
  • To grab customer attention and bring on new customers
  • Showcase what should be trending. 
  • To create brand awareness. 
  • Brings together key players to network, collaborate and learn. 

What Common Key Features Help Hit Those Goals?

Trade shows would usually require exhibition halls so each company can showcase their various products and services. However they can also include a shopping cart for any and all products. A built-in meeting scheduler allows visitors to set up audio and video meetings with company representatives (and vice versa). The event usually has a lot of media coverage. Thus social media engagement is an important tool. To create more engagement you can add gamification, including trivia, scavenger hunts with leaderboards. Those who are on top can win prizes or gift vouchers!

Best Virtual Trade Show From The Past Year

Altour – Loreal held one of the best virtual trade shows! The Salon Centric Natio created a virtual space in the Hilton Chicago. This is where they probably intended to host the physical event. 

salon-centric-lobby

The lobby had remixed mainstream music playing in the background. What a great way to begin hosting their event!

Their booths were divided according to zones. Each zone had specific booths that attendees could view. This made it easy to navigate and they also added a feature to create custom attendee agendas. The breakout room had special classes and even included a grub hub break.

salon-centric-exhibit-hall

The scavenger hunt was the coolest part of the event. They cleverly hid hair dryers in different parts of the hotel including the lobby (can you spot the hair dryers?). They gave extra points to hair dryers that were harder to find. This was a great way to engage their audience through a virtual game.

A live stream with a DJ was included for a dance session! This is always a great virtual event idea to help guests let loose! Additionally, the interactive and rolling photo booth was also so much fun!

salon-centric-photobooth

5. Virtual Job Fairs

What Are Virtual Job Fairs?

Usually held by universities, virtual job fairs are an opportunity for new job seekers to meet with employers. Various companies exhibit themselves and provide information to prospective employees. It is a great place for employees to connect with multiple employers at a single location. The fair can include organizations from just one industry or can be as big as having various industries. 

What Are the Goals For Virtual Job Fairs?

The goal of a job fair for company representatives is to:

  • Create brand awareness 
  • Find better candidates
  • Save time sifting through CVs
  • Meet potential candidates in person

For job seekers it is for:

  • Network with various companies and individuals
  • Understanding each industry’s needs
  • Understand where they make a good fit with their specific skill sets
  • Learn about what kind of skill sets they may need to acquire

What Common Key Features Help Hit Those Goals?

Because individuals will be sharing their CV’s, it is tedious to manage and organize at a physical event. Thus, a virtual job board with various positions per company is the perfect solution. A feature to sift through CVs would also be beneficial. A matchmaking tool would also be necessary to match specific employers with prospective employees. Interactive booths to promote employer brands would be part of the exhibition hall.

Best Virtual Event From The Past Year

One of the best virtual job fairs was held by Women In Cyber Security. Since their event was gender specific, they made sure to include only women avatars in their virtual lobby. At the same time, they kept inclusivity in mind by keeping avatars from diverse backgrounds.

wics-lobby

They created a “job stats” board. Where employers and prospective employees can sift through or add their CVs.  For more ease, they included a “search resume” tool, which let hiring managers search through resumes based on specific criteria they were looking for.

Chat timings were available within each exhibit booth for job seekers to use. This made it easy to schedule meetings with representatives. This helped job seekers understand the best times for them to log in and start conversations with representatives.  

job-screening

Final Thoughts 

2021 was a great year for virtual events. With the growing familiarity around it, people became more creative to build their events. This will likely continue into 2022.

With vFairs you have all the tools at hand to be as creative as you want! These event organizers let their imaginations run free and had fun creating engaging virtual events. Which event was your favorite?

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