Cost Analysis: Virtual Career Fair Vs. Physical Career Fair


The cost-effectiveness of using a virtual career fair platform, when compared to a physical recruitment event, has often been a topic of debate. Some may be skeptical about the extent of savings up for grabs, but a simple contrast of expenses is enough proof of a virtual fair’s impact, incredible ROI, and ability to provide substantially more value for less.

Do virtual career fairs really work?

A deadly virus pushed the world to try virtual events in 2020 and, well, here we are. To some, virtual career fairs might seem like a means to an end. But the tide has truly shifted and most event hosts are moving towards virtual career fairs even as COVID-19 begins its slow departure. 

But why the appeal? There’s a lot that virtual career fairs have been able to accomplish that physical ones have always wanted. Let’s take a look at these wins. 

1. Easy transitioning to virtual

Virtual career fairs of today offer immersive environments that imitate real-life settings. With clearly demarcated rooms in a 3D virtual environment and intuitive UI, hosts and attendees both instantly familiarize themselves with the new event format. This significantly lowers down the learning curve and instantly boosts engagement. 

2. Building a network

Virtual career fairs also offer multiple networking opportunities such as chat, audio, and video so you can have engaging conversations however you like. Attendees can also book slots in advance to speak to a recruiter or a company representative so they never have to wait in the crowd. These features make attending a career fair much less stressful. 

3. Widening the candidate pool

The best part of a virtual career fair is that your candidate pool isn’t limited to a certain locality. The internet lets you meet top talent from across the globe if you like, with no extra charge. You’re also able to keep the event live for as long as you’d like so more people can get a chance to attend. All of this widens the candidate pool so you’re able to meet better talent and hire faster. 

With that said, many success stories will show you just how impactful virtual career fairs have been for recruiters. Learn how Unilever scored over 900 registrations with a virtual career fair. 

What to expect from a virtual career fair

Virtual career fairs might still be new to many so let’s go over an attendee’s journey through the event. 

Virtual career fairs start off with a landing page that offers event information to attendees. It also provides a way for them to register for the event and receive related updates. Here’s a quick look into the attendee experience: 

  • On the day of the event, attendees log in via the landing page and enter into the virtual space. 
  • Once in, they’ll usually find themselves at the entrance of a building or inside a lobby.
  • From here, they can navigate from one room to another, exploring the different areas of the event and familiarizing themselves with the new environment. 
  • They’ll head to the exhibition floor to find companies or departments that are hiring.
  • As they scroll through the booths, they’ll find relevant openings and connect with a recruiter.
  • Some might head to the networking lounge to speak to fellow attendees and make new connections. 

Are virtual career fairs worth it? The cost of venues answers this

The short answer is yes. For the long answer, you’ll have to go through the entire cost breakdown. 

But just to give you a quick feel of how quickly costs rise for physical events, let’s explore one of the biggest contributors to the cost: venue rent.

With a physical event, costs keep shooting up with every additional day that you add. If venue rentals cost around $0.14 per gross square foot per day, the rental cost incurred for each additional day for a 60,000 sq ft hall will be $8,400.

So, the rent of a three-day event would be 8400*3 = $25,200.

And that’s not all. There’s venue security that’s usually upwards of $500 along with electricity bills, catering costs, and much more. 

On the other hand, many virtual platforms like vFairs will let you host all your information for up to 30 days free of charge if you host your live event with them. Attendees can come and even chat with other people on the platform. All you have to pay for is a single event license. 

With all the cost reductions and global reach, career fairs just make more sense to be hosted online. They also offer long-term ROI as they can stay live for as long as the organizer likes.

Let’s take a deeper look into the cost breakdowns. 

The Cost of Hosting a Virtual Event

The cost of a virtual career fair can vary based on the extent of features, duration, exhibitor participation, and customizations required to match the organizer’s needs. On average, institutions hosting virtual career fairs can expect prices for the platform to start around USD $9,000, with the standard solution set covering the following technology, support, and services:

  • Dedicated event manager from start to finish for hands-on assistance and expert advisory
  • Customized event landing and registration page
  • Unique branded virtual booths for each exhibitor
  • Technical support for seamless event operations (e.g. prerecording webinars, design customizations, content uploading, etc.)
  • Live technical support during the event 
  • Chat tools
  • Webinars
  • Post-event analytics and custom event reports

It’s important to note that the costs increase based on the length of the virtual event, the number of users, features in use, customizations, and optional marketing services that some vendors might offer. The basic event framework for hosts to look forward to is a power-packed bundle of functionalities and personalized digital assets that can ensure the virtual career fair does not go unnoticed. Further enhancements can always be incorporated at an additional price, such as resume search filters and other advanced recruitment technology.

The Cost of Hosting a Physical Career Fair (all estimates are in USD):

To determine the pricing and budget for a physical event, let’s take a look at some of the key costs involved and their pricing quotes from vendors.

1. Venue Rental: $8,400 for one day

Undisputedly the largest chunk of the cost — your event planner will have to research locations, negotiate rates, and confirm the availability of space for the day(s) you would like to host your career fair. Even for a mid-sized local recruitment event with an anticipated audience of 300, when venue pricing is calculated based on the industry average of  $0.14 per gross square foot per day, the rental cost incurred will be $8,400 for a 60,000 sq ft hall.

2. Parking: $1,000

Arranging a parking lot to prioritize guest convenience is critical. Rental rates can range anywhere between $1,000 to $1,500 based on medium-to-large capacities.

3. Marketing: $5,500

To get all eyes and ears focused on your upcoming event, branding and running a marketing campaign is critical. Design, PR, strategy, and reporting services from an established agency can cost about $5,500/ month.

4. Technology Assets/Audio and Visual Equipment Rental: $1,000

Stage setup, equipment for keynote speeches, professional quality lighting rigs, projectors, and technical assistance all come at a price. From assembling to delivery, on-site technical assistance and AV equipment rental rates for an 8-hour career fair will be an estimated $1,000 at the bare minimum.

5. Insurance: $150

It’s always better to be overprepared than under. To avoid unwanted stress, hosts can insure a medium-sized career fair at a starting price tag of about $150.

6. Hospitality: $4,200

Keeping recruiters and staff energized during the event visibly improves the job seeker experience. Arranging on-site corporate catering even for a conservative group of 60 members (breakfast, afternoon snack, and lunch included) can run the organizer a hefty bill of up to $70 per person (or $4,200 in total).

7. Staffing: $4,000

The standard rule of staffing is providing at least 1 assistant for every 12 guests. To spearhead the smooth running of operations for an 8-hour event with an audience of 300, you will require at least a team of 25. Rates start at an estimated $20 an hour, leading to a hike in expenses of $4,000.

8. Event Planner and Manager: $3,615

Event planners can charge on an hourly basis, or a flat fee based on the scale of the event. To bring an experienced event manager on board, you will have to dedicate an estimated 15%-20% of the total event budget to this role. The total event budget based on the above-mentioned estimates is around $24,100. So an extra 15% of $24,100 = $3,615.

Physical Career Fair: Summary Of Total Costs: $27,715

Venue Rental: $8,400; Parking: $1,000; Marketing: $5,500; Technology Assets/Audio and Visual Equipment Rental: $1,000; Insurance: $150; Hospitality: $4,200; Staffing: $4,000; Event Planner and Manager: $3,615


Simply based on quick math covering the bare essential costs of a physical career fair, hosting a virtual career fair can cost less than one-third of the price on average. The expenses of a traditional recruitment event can easily get out of hand fast — the extent of branding, marketing collateral, giveaways, staff travel arrangements, and the time needed for post-event analysis are additional price points to evaluate and dedicate the event budget toward.

Hiring virtually delivers unparalleled gains; no capacity constraints, restricted timings, hospitality fees, pricey marketing, insurance coverage, or event management hurdles means your money has been freed up for reallocation elsewhere. Providing global outreach, recruitment efficiency, guest convenience, and an exciting event schedule without equipment rental, the exceptional cost-cutting with virtual events is an easy win for hosts to secure.

Want to learn more about Virtual Career Fairs? Read “The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Career Fairs”.k

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Cost Analysis: Virtual Career Fair Vs. Physical Career Fair

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