Background: The University of Dundee Virtual Open Day

The University of Dundee is a public university based in Dundee, Scotland. The school is known for its expertise across disciplines, particularly as a research school. Each year, the University of Dundee hosts an open day to attract prospective students to explore its programs and faculties. 

While in the past they had hosted open days in person or through channels like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, this was their first virtual open day with vFairs.

University of Dundee Open Day Challenges & Objectives 

Challenges 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the University of Dundee had used a number of platforms to attract prospective students to their school, including Zoom webinars, Microsoft Teams and Facebook Lives. However, with each of these platforms they could not set up a cohesive space where they could host all different types of talks, webinars and content in one space. 

Objectives

The virtual open day sought to accomplish a few key objectives:

  • Attract students to the online venue to explore programs
  • Garner equal attendance from the year prior
  • Offer on-demand content after the live days ended

To achieve this, University of Dundee, in collaboration with vFairs, put together a virtual event space that fostered interactive presentations, exhibit booths by faculty, and hosted content that students could access on-demand following the live event.

Let’s have a look at a few key features that made the open day a success.

Event Details 

Live Presentations and On-Demand Content

The University of Dundee had a total of 67 presentations centered around their programs and faculties, 60 of which were live on the event day. They wanted to make these recordings available for attendees to visit after the live day had concluded. 

Within the vFairs platform, they were able to share links to join the live presentations. Once the presentations concluded those same links could be updated to access the recorded presentation. 

gif of user clicking through vFairs virtual auditorium into a presentation about University of Dundee's law program

Professional, User Friendly Design

The virtual venue set the tone for the event. The team wanted something that was aesthetically pleasing and professional looking to reflect their own values as a large organization. The vFairs platform suited their expectations and made it easy to design. 

Matthew Crichton, Senior Student Recruitment Officer at the University of Dundee, noted, “Even as someone who has no formal training in design, it was still very easy for me to design the backdrop of the event and it looked really esthetically pleasing… it was pretty straightforward in the backend.”

He also stated that he believed students and attendees would have appreciated the look and feel as well.

capture of University of Dundee's virtual open day exhibit hall with booths divided by faculty, such as School for the Arts and Dentistry

Interactive Exhibit Booths by Faculty

Faculties within the University of Dundee’s virtual open day were allotted a virtual exhibit booth to showcase their programs, courses and the student experience. Students could scroll through the exhibit booths to find a program they were interested in, and get lots of information through various formats. 

The exhibit booths hosted PDFs, videos, photos and links to their program pages. Students could browse through, save documents or videos, and email the documents to themselves for later. This way, if they wanted to revisit any information it would be readily available to them.

Capture of University of Dundee's virtual open day lobby, branded with the university logo and colors

Actionable Insights for School Reps 

One aspect of the virtual event that proved to be extremely beneficial was the metrics they received post-event. It was quick and easy for the team to track webinar attendance and engagement within each booth — something that was difficult to do when the team hosted webinars in the past. Also, they found it extremely easy to share that data with the booth representatives for further analysis. 

In fact, the engagement metrics they noted at the booths was enough to show value for the whole platform. Matthew said, “Being able to host that content on the booths seems to have helped the event pay for itself.”

Why vFairs?

When the University of Dundee was on the hunt for a virtual event platform, they received a recommendation for vFairs through a competing university — the University of Edinburgh Napier. The school had hosted student open days through vFairs before and had great things to say about their experience. 

After exploring a few options, vFairs was the platform of choice thanks to its ability to host cohesive webinars, documents and content in one space, and that looked so appealing. 

The school had some tight turnaround times and the vFairs team was more than willing to help get it ready in time, and still make sure the event reflected the University of Dundee brand well. As the event went on, it became clear that the staff was exceptionally responsive and dedicated to the success of the event. As Matthew says, “I hadn’t had that experience before, especially with a third-party supplier. Usually people go weeks without answering your emails… that just wasn’t our experience working with vFairs at all. It was constant, it was efficient and really professional.”

Results

Even given the short turnaround time, the University of Dundee virtual open day was deemed successful. On the live evening, they saw a turnout of 400 attendees. Additionally, engagement within each booth was impressive. For instance, one booth had 60 visitors and saw 234 engagements with their content. That’s an average of almost 4 engagements per booth visitor!

Internally, Matthew received a lot of positive feedback about the setup and execution of the event. Additionally, they were able to get a deep understanding of engagement metrics and analyze what type of information students are looking for at events like these. 

The school has since hosted additional open days over the fall of 2021, and notes that even if they go back to in-person events in the future, they will continue having some kind of virtual aspect to their open days. 

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