What is a virtual event and how are universities using them?

iVent, a leading virtual event specialist, has been working with universities to deliver events virtually for over six years

For many, what a virtual event actually is and how it can be used to its full potential within the university, is still something of a mystery. To help shed some light, iVent Director Gavin Newman shares some frequently asked questions and answers about virtual events for universities.

What is a virtual event?

A virtual event, put simply, is when an event, seminar, live chat session or full blown open day is delivered online, rather than in person on campus.

How do universities use virtual events?

For the most part, we work with universities who see the advantages of running student recruitment events online, either as stand-alone events or as an addition to their physical open day events. More recently, we’re seeing universities expanding their use of virtual events to host careers fairs to match graduates with external and sometimes international organisations as well as delivering sample lectures and one-to-one sessions with students.

What’s included in a virtual event?

As with any event, no two are the same in terms of format so this depends on your own aims and objectives. For the most part though, you get the same amazing rich media content, we pride ourselves on advising on types of relevant content and how it can be delivered to make it really engaging. Crucially, you get the same interaction levels as a live event – at iVent we use the latest technology and all sorts of bespoke functionality to deliver anything from webinars, online chat and video streaming as well as video chat when privacy is required. And finally, you get lots of lovely data to measure the success of your event and more easily justify the spend for the next one…

What equipment do we need? We’re not techies…

All you really need is an internet connection and a computer! At iVent we always guide users through the process so the techie bit really needn’t cause concern, it’s our job to manage this side of the entire event. Bring the people and add the content, the rest is up to us. 

But surely you can’t recreate a live-event atmosphere?

Ok we’re not magicians. However, if you walk through one of our event environments, which are fully university branded, you’ll often see different areas for networking, course booths, advice centres, student lounges, content access points and even a virtual tour, so it can feel very real.

Do students like virtual events?

Our experience shows that many students prefer a virtual event to a live one. For them it’s easy to listen, take notes, gather information and interact via online chat or voice when they choose to. And with our online environments, content is ‘on-demand’ allowing them to revisit all the resources again at anytime, 365 days a year at a time and place convenient to them. In this digital age, we’re finding many students now expect universities to offer a virtual element to their open days and careers fairs.

Is a virtual event a bit too revolutionary for my institution?

Virtual events can be pretty simple and straightforward and we have been working with universities for many years. We’ve seen many universities deliver a few webinars and maybe a 360-degree campus virtual tour. The truth is, that’s fine if it does the job, however, our firm belief is that is not exploiting the power of a what a proper virtual event is capable of. We work with our growing list of university clients to squeeze every last drop out of their virtual event license, which means hosting multiple events, from offer holder events to parent and family events. So possibly not revolutionary, but certainly extremely powerful, when done properly!

I’m not sure if a virtual event will work for me?

Virtual events work for universities aiming to reach out to prospective students both at home and overseas and to connect students with possible employers at the end of their university journey. Last year alone, iVent hosted more than 30 universities’ virtual events. More than 200,000 students attended an iVent virtual event in the last 12 months.  

To find out more about iVent please contact Gavin Newman on 0844 5678979, or email gavin.newman@ivent-hq.com. Alternatively, visit ivent-uk.com for further information.

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