- Hosting a physical Resource Fair offered limited value restricted to locally admitted students; students from other cities, states or international countries were unable to attend without incurring expensive travel costs.
- Delivering an event that catered to admitted students with special needs required a lot of planning and investment to ensure that their event experience was not compromised.
- Students unable to attend the Resource Fair had no alternative way to access the information at a later time, and get acquainted with the university’s services.
- Hefty expenses associated with hosting the Resource Fair including staffing, marketing collateral, and hospitality management took a toll on the event’s budget.
- Coordinating mandatory attendance of representatives from across all programs and departments to answer students’ questions adversely impacted their workflow.
- There was no way to address recurring queries from admitted students in a forum-like setting to simplify information sharing for department representatives.
- Sharing resources with students involved high paper wastage and printing expenses which make the event highly environmentally unfriendly.
Aligning a virtual resource fair solution with Cornell’s mission of enhancing lives and livelihoods of students, the vFairs team came up with a strategy to streamline information so that all admitted students could benefit without exception. Focusing strongly on delivering an event that aced accessibility for students unable to travel and/or with special needs, the outcome truly helped empower the university with a digital advantage.
The virtual Resource Fair was a game changer that overcame the host’s challenges based on the following features:
To spearhead an extraordinary user experience, the vFairs team set up the platform in compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). This meant that differently abled admitted students had access to special tools to help them explore the resources without any obstacles. The virtual Resource Fair offered user friendly functionality with the navigation menu also serving as home to WCAG tools including:
Guests with visual impairment or cognitive disabilities could change color contrasts to help them read the text, and explore the online event without utmost ease.
2. Text Character Size:
The students had full control over the font size; it could be changed to zoom-in or out to enable users with low vision to read the webpage text.
3. Page Narrations:
Audio description (the headphone icon) allowed admitted students to be able to access all resources via the on-screen text narrations, thus eliminating the need for any assistance.
Custom Department Booths
The objective of the event was for the university’s management to help promote their services and resources in a stress-free and visually stimulating environment. For the virtual Resource Fair to be fantastically immersive, all participating departments were provided virtual booths custom designed to represent unique identities.
The beautiful backdrop of the exhibit hall displayed Cornell’s campus, and all booths had distinct layouts and customized avatars to make the event experience more engaging. Each department/program booth was rich with information such as Director’s Message, News, and also a chat option for students wanting one-on-one communication with the staff.
For the attendees in need of immediate answers to their queries, this helped nurture strong relationships with the student body and have them excited about their new journey at Cornell from the get-go.
Department/program booths and a dedicated “Resources” area offered downloadable content for admitted students that could then be added to a “Digital Briefcase”. Removing unnecessary carbon footprint and high costs of printing, this content could be emailed by the attendees to their respective accounts to read, research and share at a later time.
There was also a “Video Vault” to take advantage of accelerated engagement. Helping the incoming students swiftly consume information, the digital multimedia repository made messaging easier for Cornell University to accomplish. The audience loved this feature and actively played video content- a proof of fantastic visitor experience that the virtual Resource Fair delivered.
Live Chat Rooms
In order to encourage a spirit of community and provide admitted students familiarity with resources, a “Networking” feature led attendees to a chat lounge with dedicated chat rooms for various departments and programs. Helping the representative address recurring questions with ease and amplify the impact of their communication efforts, students could log in at a convenient time and catch up on discussions being had.
This Q&A platform ensured that moderators and hosts could address all queries in an open setting, meanwhile providing a platform for conversational chats amongst the virtual Resource Fair’s attendees.
The Cornell Graduate School Resource Fair was a great success; the results indicated a powerful guest experience, satisfied students, and high levels of content consumption across all booths. Our real-time reporting dashboard tracked all visitor traffic and guest activity so that measuring the event’s ROI was effortless for the hosts.