November 18, 2021

How to Create Great Attendee Experiences at a Virtual Fair

by

Chris Langone

The attendee experience at virtual college fairs and virtual career fairs are vital to the success of the virtual fair.

Over the last year and a half we have all been invited to virtual events, attended them, and tried to navigate and create better experiences. For hundreds of thousands of students and adults, virtual fairs became the go-to way to meet their future college or employer. 

With so many virtual fairs out there, how do you ensure that your fair stands out from the rest? One way is to provide great attendee experiences at your virtual fair. 

As in-person fairs start back up, virtual college fairs and career fairs will still be a key way to recruit students and talent because they allow for easier access and let attendees engage with content on their own terms.

Here’s how to create great attendee experiences at your next virtual fair:

Make your virtual fair easy to attend

Two of the most important things you can do to start creating great attendee experiences at a virtual fair is making registration a breeze and ensuring that the experience is mobile optimized. 

Creating mobile optimized virtual fairs is a key way to boost attendance and engagement. By creating fairs that are mobile optimized, you are allowing for easier attendee access. As more people continue to rely on their smartphones for every aspect of their life, they are increasingly reliant on attending virtual experiences through them as well. In fact, we’ve found 70% of attendees of virtual fairs and virtual events join from their smartphones. 

Making sure that your virtual fairs are mobile optimized is just one way of creating better attendee experiences. The other is to provide a seamless and easy registration process. As we have learned about attendee behavior over the last year and a half, we found that attendees want registration to be easy and allow them the option of building their schedule out or joining various sessions at their own pace.

It’s key that registration works on a desktop or mobile device, includes the questions that are most important to help create a better virtual experience, and that allows attendees to have the option to create their own path for the virtual fair. By making it easier to attend your virtual fair, your team, your exhibitors, and your attendees will have great experiences from the very start.

Give your attendees something to do while they wait for the virtual fair to start

Let’s start with this scenario. Marley, a prospective college student, is excited for the virtual college fair he signed up for to start. He knows he’s interested in a few different colleges and can already picture himself in the swag of any of them!

He shows up to the virtual fair 30 minutes before it starts. He takes this time to poke around the content that different colleges and universities have uploaded. Two of his top choices only posted one video. His other top choice uploaded a treasure trove of student testimonials, faculty research talks, alumni testimonials, pre-recorded campus tours, and more. He spends the next 30 minutes diving into this content and when the fair starts he immediately goes to the virtual booth of this institution, meets 1:1 with a representative to get all his questions answered and learns more about applying.

The key to this interaction is simple. The more content at a virtual fair, the better. For prospective college students, authentic and easy to engage with on-demand content allows for them to learn about whatever they are interested in whenever they want. In the scenario above, it allowed the prospective student to get a real feel of the university and then meet directly with a representative to finalize his decision to apply. 

On-demand content goes a long way for virtual fairs. Prospective students at a virtual college fair have a lot of questions, but they are still sometimes afraid to ask them. On-demand content allows them to better understand what a particular institution has to offer and better craft their questions for when they meet with someone.

Provide flexibility for attendees

The final piece of creating great attendee experiences at a virtual fair is creating maximum flexibility. 

Flexibility at a virtual fair can happen in a number of ways. Let’s focus on two that deal with flexible timing of a virtual fair. First, it’s important to understand the availability of your audience. The playbook for scheduling an in-person college fair or career fair cannot just be replicated for a virtual fair. With the ability to join anywhere and anytime, scheduling a virtual fair needs keep in mind when your audience is best suited to attend. For example, running a virtual career fair during the day can be an issue if job seekers are currently in school or working. Think about running multiple, shorter virtual fairs at night to ensure higher attendance. 

Second, keep your virtual fair open for registrants and attendees to go back to long after the live portion ends. In a virtual setting, audiences expect to be able to come and go as they please while also having the ability to interact with high quality live and on-demand content. With this in mind, it’s important to keep virtual fairs open for multiple days, weeks, or even months. Once your live event ends, there are still opportunities to capture new leads, engage with exhibitors, and watch content. Keep driving registrants and attendees back to your virtual fair after the live portion ends to ensure that prospective students can continue learning about their future college or job seekers can continue to see what employment opportunities are available to them.

These steps are meant to help you create great attendee experiences at virtual fairs. Here's an example of what a finished product looks like: 



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