Vicky Hayhurst of Revolution Viewing outlines her view on how university student recruitment and marketing teams have responded during COVID-19 and what the future of university open days might look like.
Whilst praising teams for their speed of response in pulling together virtual open days, many for the first time, in the most challenging of circumstances, Hayhurst suggests that now is the ideal time to pause, reflect and consider what the virtual open day could be at its best.
“I do appreciate that we were thrown into the pandemic lockdown rather suddenly and speed really was of the essence but…if we all just took a small step back and gave ourselves time to breathe, is the way we are running virtual open days right now the way we would deliver them if we started with a blank slate?
“If we were simply presented with the challenge of creating an interactive, engaging and inspiring experience of university life and learning online, what would we actually produce? And has anyone actually asked the prospective students and their influencers what they want from a virtual open day? (Don’t worry, we have.)
“With all universities reaching VOD fever pitch and most of them having now delivered their first university-wide online recruitment events, we have a window of opportunity to assess what has worked, and what hasn’t, and to reimagine the art of the possible. You won’t be surprised to hear that this is exactly what we are doing at Revolution Viewing.”
She outlines several areas where universities and society have adapted to the new virtual world well:
- Society has adapted to online events well and virtual open days have enabled universities to have high quality interactions with thousands of prospective students, their parents and other influencers within an hour of an event starting.
- Revolution Viewing’s virtual tour elements of virtual open days have been performing particularly well with average dwell times reaching over 25 minutes per visitor and very low bounce and exit rates.
- Prospective students have engaged well with live Q&A sessions following a live or pre-recorded presentation, with more questions asked than at a physical event and answers shared with more visitors.
- Many academics have risen to the challenge and have produced hugely engaging and inspiring presentations.
- Universities are now seeing even greater value in virtual tours and virtual open days with many having aspirations to run more online events and have more conversations with prospects moving forward, regardless of how lockdown relaxes.
- Huge sums of money have been saved from making the switch from physical student recruitment events to online – the challenge now will be to invest future budget wisely in a virtual open day platform that will really deliver for the sector without compromise.
- The return on investment that can be gained from delivering multiple virtual open days (and applicant days and taster days etc) compared to running physical events is significant.
All of which suggest that the future virtual open days may well be a better, more tailored experience for applicants. More economical and interactive opportunities for universities and a lower carbon footprint for everyone.
You can read Vicky’s full blog here.