As COVID-19 took the world by storm and shut down possibilities of an in-person event, the Campus Abroad annual education fair was of the highest concern for the team. Forced to think of alternatives, they had no choice but to continue their marketing efforts and host their event albeit on a virtual platform. What is Campus Abroad? Campus Abroad Mauritius was established in 2001 as a facilitator to enable Mauritian students to pursue overseas education. It works with almost 100 reputed institutions around the world helping students who have completed high school and aspire to study abroad. They facilitate the entire process from counselling to applications to visa, right down to accommodation. Why vFairs? In the pre-COVID era, representatives from various institutions would fly into Mauritius to attend the event. However, the current circumstances were not favourable for an in-person event. A simple Google search led Campus Abroad to vFairs. Although they found a variety of options, and spoke to three or four different platforms, they liked the positive feedback they’d heard of vFairs. Aside from the reasonable price, Rohit Jaishankar spoke about the ‘positive vibe’ he felt from the vFairs team. Right from the very first conversation the team was professional. And so, vFairs was chosen for their virtual education fair. The Event: Campus Abroad Virtual Education Fair The in-person education fair connected high-school students with universities and helped them through the entire process of admissions. This objective remained the same even with the change to a virtual venue in 2020. A challenge, disguised as a learning experience, awaited the team at Campus Abroad: bringing universities and students onboard to their first virtual education fair. The challenge was to make them comfortable with the venue and promise the same value they got from in-person events. However, Campus Abroad and vFairs together overcame these challenges, and delivered a successful virtual education fair on October 23rd, 2020. Many universities were willing to take part in the event. You can experience more of the event here. What made the very first virtual education fair a success for Campus Abroad? Let’s find out. On a mission to deliver absolute value to the exhibitors and attendees, vFairs and Campus Abroad designed a virtual platform focusing on some key features to draw in both. CONNECTING STUDENTS WITH UNIVERSITIES IN THE VIRTUAL AUDITORIUM The virtual auditorium hosted live and pre-recorded sessions. These sessions were very well attended, and were deemed as one of the bigger successes of the virtual education fair. These focused on educating prospective students about living in Canada or Australia, studying in particular universities, and pursuing various careers. DETAILED UNIVERSITY INFORMATION IN THE EXHIBIT HALL Universities had set up their individual booths in the exhibit hall. They offered detailed information on university programs, scholarships and funding, student life, and living in the country the university was based in. Students could even network with university representatives with the live audio, video, and text chat options. ADDING VALUE BY PROVIDING DOWNLOADABLE MATERIAL A key feature that really appealed to the team at Campus Abroad was the ability to upload a lot of material online. This gave students access to a lot of resources, something that was not easily available at the in-person events. They could easily save the information they required in their ‘swag bags’ and download it after the event. This feature created a lot of ease and accessibility of information for students. EMPIRICAL DATA TO ASSESS THE EVENTS OUTCOMES In-person events did not allow the Campus Abroad team to collect detailed data on the attendees, the booths they visited or the documents they downloaded. However, the virtual platform allowed them to easily generate reports, track attendees, and see where the most virtual ‘footfall’ was. LEARNING OUTCOMES Since this was the first virtual event for Campus Abroad, the team was learning on the go. In retrospect they wished they had done a few things differently that would have highlighted the platform’s features even more. Firstly, the chat feature was not fully utilized. Many students did not know of it and did not end up chatting. vFairs offers a pop-up feature which could be used to get the required attention. Secondly, hosting an eight hour in-person event is entirely different from hosting an eight hour virtual event. There is increased capability and a short virtual ‘travel’ time. This makes it easy to host short events. This was perhaps the biggest takeaway for the team. Thirdly, students in Mauritius will take some time to warm up to the idea of a virtual event. Educating them on the benefits and value of the virtual space will be an ongoing effort. Having said that, Campus Abroad looks forward to hosting virtual education fairs in the future. Moving forward, when the situation eases up, they are considering a complete shift to the virtual arena, as it saves costs and reduces travelling. Rohit Jaishankar, the Marketing Manager at Campus Abroad predicts the future of virtual events; “if not immediately but over the next couple of years this is going to be the model that people follow”.