There are many reasons why you may want to host a virtual activities fair, whether it’s to follow social distancing guidelines or to save on expensive in-person venue fees.
That said, if you’re a first time organizer, it may be daunting to put together your first virtual activities fair due to the new technology that you may have to adopt as well as the logistics that you need to juggle.
In this article, we break up the process of hosting a virtual activities fair into 7 general steps. At each step, we’ll provide a summarization of the step and give considerations that you should keep in mind when carrying it out.
Steps to Host a Virtual Activities Fair
- Set a date
- Choose a platform
- Promote your event
- Set up initial event details
- Onboard your student orgs
- Prepare your students
- Launch your event
Step 1 – Set a Date
Although obvious, the first key and important step in hosting your virtual activities fair is to set a clear date for your event.
By doing so, you implicitly create a timeframe that you can work off of and can work backwards from that deadline.
Oftentimes, event coordinators who don’t set a clear date for their event end up procrastinating on key setup tasks which result in confusion and potential delays.
Step 2 – Choose a Platform
Once you’ve set a date for your event, you will then need to choose a platform to host your virtual activities fair.
This step will be especially important since the features of your virtual activities fair platform will dictate how your orgs and students engage with one another.
Depending on your event scope, you may want to have a complete solution provided by a dedicated virtual activities fair vendor, or you may decide that your event can be hosted simply with Zoom rooms.
For more considerations, you can visit the following article: Choosing a Virtual Involvement Fair Solution
Step 3 – Promote your Event
After you’ve decided on a platform, you should then promote your event to your target audience.
At this point, you can simply promote your event dates and provide a preliminary overview of how the event will be hosted (Depending on your platform of choice). Additionally, you can begin taking student org registrations so that you know who will be virtually “tabling” at your virtual activities fair.
Although it might seem unintuitive to promote your event when your event may not be fully set up yet, it’s important to get early buy-in from your students and student-org leaders. By promoting your event early, they can pencil in your event date and make sure that they’re available to take part in your virtual activities fair.
Step 4 – Set up Initial Event Details
Now that your event timeline and platform have been decided upon, it’s now time for you to begin the legwork of setting everything up in your virtual activities fair platform.
Regardless of your platform, you will most likely need to prepare and set up initial items such as:
- Event branding graphics
Most platforms will require you to provide things like an event logo, banner graphics, etc. so that your activities fair properly reflects your organization’s brand.
- Event logistics
When you set up your event, you will need to plug in details such as your event time frame and event description.
Step 5 – Onboard your Student Orgs
After completing the initial setup of your event, you can then begin onboarding your event stakeholders starting with your student orgs.
As mentioned in Step 3 (Promote your Event), you most likely will already have a running list of student orgs registered to take part in your virtual activities fair.
In this step, you will actually onboard them into your virtual activities fair platform. This oftentimes will require them to set up a “digital booth” where they will provide information about their organizations. This might include things like an org description, website, resources, social media, etc.
During this step, you may want to consider setting up webinars for your participating student orgs so that you properly train them and get them acclimated to your virtual activities fair platform.
Step 6 – Prepare your Students
After your student orgs are set up within your platform, it’s a good idea to begin preparing your general student body on how the virtual activities fair will take place.
This can entail things such as pre-recorded videos, live webinars, or infographics on how your event will be held.
By preparing your student body ahead of time, you’ll ensure that the event launch itself will be smooth since everyone will be on the same page.
Step 7 – Launch your Event
Once your event’s been fully set up and your stakeholders are all on the same page, you’re then ready to launch your event.
Before you officially share your event, it’s a good idea to do a final run through of your event details to make sure that you haven’t left any loose ends.
That said, if you’re ready, you can launch your event through your various communication channels whether they’re social media or email newsletters. The more exposure you can get the higher turnout you can expect, so it’s good practice to involve your student org leaders in the promotion of your event as well.
Offer a Virtual Help Desk
Although not necessarily mandatory to host a virtual activities fair, it’s often good practice to offer a virtual help desk for your students during your event. This can be in the form of a virtual video room that can be hosted via Zoom, Google Hangouts, etc.
Sometimes students may have some questions regarding things like setting up an event profile or engaging with your student orgs. A virtual help desk helps you provide on-demand help to streamline these issues.
Track Event Engagement Metrics
To get a gauge on the level of engagement your event received, it’s recommended to track event engagement metrics. Such metrics can include things like:
- Number of participating students
- Number of participating student orgs
- Number of connections made during the event
Most dedicated virtual activities fair platforms track such metrics for you; however, if you plan to implement an event without a dedicated platform, it’s a good idea to have your own means to track these metrics.
For first time coordinators, the aforementioned steps are general guidelines for you to follow as you prepare for a virtual activities fair. As you dive into your planning though, you may find additional steps that you’ll want to incorporate; however, by keeping these initial steps in mind, you’ll have a good framework for thinking through your event logistics moving forward.