Running a successful virtual recruitment event

A virtual recruitment referral list, guide and assets.

Following an increased demand for virtual student recruitment arising from COVID-19 travel restrictions, Austrade has developed this set of tips to assist education providers in delivering successful virtual recruitment events.

In a recent QS survey of higher education institutions, 50% of respondents believed that the coronavirus would have a detrimental impact on the number of student applications they received at their institution. To address this uncertainty, institutions are shifting their student recruitment strategies with 75% of respondents stating that digital events were becoming more important, and 70% stating that qualified one-to-one online meetings were becoming more important.

This has again highlighted the findings from the 2019 Deloitte Digital report on international education and digital engagement commissioned by Austrade and the Department of Education, Skills and Employment that ‘international students to Australia are increasingly connected to information, to their networks of friends and family, to services, and to each other via digital channels’.

An enhanced end-to-end digital experience for international students at every stage of the student lifecycle is critical for those in the international education sector seeking to attract students and improve the experience of students.

As part of Austrade’s pivot to re-shape its digital student engagement and to support the work of the Global Reputation Taskforce, Austrade has embarked on an initiative to look into transforming the Study in Australia platform as the IE Sector’s one stop shop and student journey information aggregator. The referral list of virtual recruitment event providers and this guide serve as our first deliverables of this work.

In addition, Austrade has commissioned an independent feasibility study with the Austrade network, state and territory clusters and education providers on the role of Austrade in virtual recruitment. It will also focus on market specific options and the intersection with our previous Study Australia events and showcase models, especially on the Austrade value-adds that may bring to future events. The key findings will be shared with the international education sector in due course. You are welcome to input your ideas and feedback via edinsights@austrade.gov.au .


Key elements of a successful virtual recruitment event

In order to deliver a successful virtual recruitment event, institutions may consider the following:

Before the fair
  • Identify a platform provider and lock in service details (see our referral list of virtual recruitment platform providers here ). Consider factors like:
  • Do they have a pre-event marketing service to help market the event?
  • Do they have their own list of leads you can leverage?
  • Does that list of leads cover markets you wish to target?
  • Is the platform mobile compliant?
  • Will the platform operate in all the market/s you are targeting (eg China)?
  • Does the platform provider assign technical support staff during your event that are only looking after your event?
  • Have other Australian education providers used the platform?
  • How easy is the platform to navigate?
  • What software does your staff require to use the platform (particularly where staff members may be accessing this from home computers in the evening)?
  • What data fields are on the registration portal of the platform?
  • Can the fields of the registration portal of the platform be customised?
  • Can the platform provider pre-screen participants?
  • Does the platform offer a one on one private chat feature for confidential conversations in addition to open chat in booths?
  • What about the capacity for prospective students to upload documents in chats?
  • What about language support? Can the platform accommodate translators in booth chats?
  • Can the platform be accessed by students after a virtual event if they wish to view or download material in the future?
  • Who owns the student contact details and what restrictions might there be on further lead generation?
  • Market the fair prior to the event via your own and/or your platform partners’ marketing lists. In particular, leverage the social media channels which are popular amongst potential students.
  • Consider developing interactive content for the event to really engage student interest – eg 3D campus tours, student video testimonials, live questions during presentations, online quizzes/competitions etc.
  • Consider involving student ambassadors as chat host in your event – students want to hear from their peers.
  • Ensure links to your institution’s webpage content in event booths directs students to neat and concise information. They shouldn’t have to click through multiple sites to find what they are looking for.
  • Consider developing a customised registration portal for your event that matches your institution’s CRM fields so you can easily add registered students to your CRM after the event.
  • Make sure you send a reminder regarding your event to registrants.
  • Ensure your staff are well trained in how to use the platform and training sessions are run in advance of the event. Consider preparing a help guide for them in advance of the event (or get your platform provider to give you one). which includes details of technical support they can call on during the event. Run pre-event testing with your platform partner.
  • Have a contingency plan in place with your platform provider should things go wrong.
  • Reach out to the Study Australia partners and Austrade representatives at post to see if there are any key messages you can use for audience or how to promote the event on Study Australia channels.

During the fair
  • Allocate enough staff to backup one another for timely and effective communication with potential students. Get advice from your platform provider on this.
  • Make sure all staff know where to find real time technical support from your platform provider - both online and via phone.

After the fair
  • Make sure you send a thankyou email to all participating students and provide them with information regarding how they can apply or seek further information regarding your institution.
  • Obtain from your platform provider a list of all student leads generated for adding to your CRM and future follow up and analysis of applications and conversions coming from the event.

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