To host a virtual involvement fair, you have to first research which virtual involvement fair solution will best suit your needs.
In our experience, the determining factors in choosing which vendor is best for your needs boils down to a few key things:
- The size of your fair
- Your target audience
Simply put, if you have a limited budget, the virtual fair solutions that are available to you will be more limited. Most virtual involvement fair implementations fall into two buckets:
- Cheaper DIY solutions patched together with video conferencing solutions like Zoom or Microsoft Teams
- More expensive virtual solutions tailor-made for involvement fairs
Most universities with limited budgets will opt to use a DIY solution with Zoom’s breakout rooms feature, FlipGrid, or Microsoft Team’s breakout rooms feature depending on the video provider their university may have an existing contract with.
If the university can afford it though, opting for a dedicated virtual involvement fair solution is typically preferred since such solutions are typically designed from the ground up to facilitate involvement fairs. This allows universities to avoid logistical hiccups that may arise from a DIY solution.
A few other commonly used vendors for involvement fair implementations are vFairs and EasyVirtualFair. Some student affairs departments may also choose to use the virtual fair provider purchased by their career services department, such as our virtual career fair solution, CareerEco, or Brazen.
Size Of The Fair
If your fair is going to have less than 100 participants or 10 booths, it’s probably best to go with Zoom or some kind of video conferencing solution that supports breakout rooms.
Not only is it much cheaper to host a video conferencing solution using something like Zoom (it only costs $150 for a Zoom license which supports up to 100 participants), it is also technology you and your team are already familiar with, so you will not have to learn the ins and outs of a new solution.
However, once you start increasing the number of booths or participants, it most likely makes more sense to begin considering a dedicated virtual involvement fair provider. The number of possible issues involving personnel management increases exponentially when you use Zoom over a dedicated virtual org fair provider.
For example, here are some features worth considering that will make managing a virtual org fair much easier. Does your virtual fair provider:
- Allow you to track how many booths have completed registration?
- Allow you to automatically send bulk emails to booth managers who have not completed registration?
- Allow you to prevent certain users from signing up for the fair?
- Allow you to send announcements to the users as the fair is going on?
- Allow booth managers to mark their booths as “unavailable” during certain time periods during the fair?
- Allow participants to pre-schedule which booths they plan to join a video call with?
- Allow participants to message multiple booths at the same time?
Another item to consider is the needs of your audience and how familiar they are with technology in general. Here are some factors to consider:
What kind of information does your audience need to display?
If your booth doesn’t need to display any information at all, it might be best to go with a zoom breakout room. However, if branding and displaying additional information is a critical part of satisfying your booth stakeholders then a virtual fair provider will typically make more sense.
DIY solutions typically only allow attendees to chat with a booth representative. With virtual fair providers like Eventus, booths usually have the ability to not only present information such as club information, upcoming events, but also allow for more interactivity such as allowing the student to apply to join the club inside the platform itself.
How familiar is your audience with a computer?
Are your students and stakeholders tech-savvy enough to learn the ins and outs of the platform that you choose? Will your students and stakeholders be willing to invest time and energy into learning yet another software platform to use? These are also additional considerations to make when using the platform.
DIY solutions using popular technologies such as Zoom or using traditional web-based virtual fair software are the easiest for most people to learn.
Avatar based virtual fairs tend to have higher learning curves for all parties involved: event administrators, booth managers, and attendees.
While Zoom & Microsoft Teams may provide some basic statistics if you want a detailed report of the state of your virtual fair, you will need to purchase a virtual fair solution. The analytics provided by vendors vary from company to company so make sure that you understand what reports you’ll have access to after the event. Typical statistics you might want to consider:
- Number of registered attendees
- Number of attendees that actually showed up
- Number of video chat minutes consumed
- Total number of booth visits
- Number of visits per booth
Most virtual fair providers will also allow you to send out a post-event survey so that you can gather data on what can be improved at your next virtual involvement fair.
When choosing a solution to implement your upcoming virtual involvement fair, you have a few key factors to consider:
- Fair Size
- Target Audience
While it may be tempting to choose a cheaper DIY solution, depending on the needs of your fair, it is often worth using the more expensive solution.