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How to Design Hybrid Open House Events That Increase Student Attendance and Engagement

StudentBridge Staff December, 29, 2022

Virtual recruitment is an effective strategy if used correctly. You want to engage prospective students by offering them unique opportunities to interact with others. In-person events aren't as common as they were pre-COVID.

Some students aren't comfortable visiting colleges or attending events. However, others still depend on face-to-face interactions to determine where they want to apply.

You can plan a hybrid event to incorporate in-person and virtual experiences prospective students can enjoy. Planning requires knowing the strategies to attract suitable candidates and keep them engaged until the end.

Below you will find ways to create a hybrid event that reaches a wider audience, increases attendance, and facilitates effective interactions between prospective students, alum, and faculty.

1. Avoid an Identical Experience for Online and Offline Attendees

You should never try to deliver similar experiences for offline and online attendees. A common mistake is to try to replicate an in-person attendee's experience for virtual guests. You should take advantage of the opportunity to tailor your virtual events to your online audience. Determine the platform you want to use and incorporate unique features prospective students can use to engage with other attendees.

The same method applies to hybrid events. Although it requires more time and planning, you should focus on creating two separate events that are linked. Your virtual audience won't enjoy the experience as much if you record a live campus event and upload it to your website without digital elements for real-time interactions.

You can live stream a lecture people can attend physically and virtually. During a break, allow the in-person attendees to socialize with each other while your virtual guests stay for a question-and-answer session with the lecturer. Or in-person students can walk around campus while your online attendees access an immersive digital tour.

Allowing each group to communicate with the other is also essential. You can select a part of the hybrid event for all attendees to engage and get to know one another. Although your in-person and online audiences have different experiences, they can discuss important topics and share the information they learned during the event.

2. Focus on Engagement to Drive Student Enrollment

Getting prospective students to attend your campus events is the first step. However, the hard work isn't over. Pulling off a successful event isn't enough to increase enrollment at your school. Attendance and engagement differ significantly. When prospective students feel like they're part of a community, the decision to apply is more straightforward.

You must offer opportunities for your audiences to learn more about your school while interacting with other attendees. Tour guides should communicate with each person on their tour between stops. Answering questions about the academic buildings, programs, and other campus features help prospective students decide if the college is right for them.

A virtual tour showcases your campus when attendees can't be there physically. Instead of following a tour guide, students can roam around using a self-guided campus tour app. Engaging content can tell the story of your school while highlighting each location they visit with audio, text, and 360-degree images.

3. Offer On-Demand Events

A beneficial part of offering virtual events is that prospective students can attend from their homes. They don't have to spend money on airfare or drive long distances to your campus to meet the faculty, tour the campus, and form relationships with current students. You should offer on-demand content for virtual attendees to keep the conversations going even after the event ends.

In-person guests should also have access to the same features online visitors have. When the event ends and potential enrollees leave campus, give them a chance to connect digitally to the people they met.

A live chat feature allows users to connect in real-time from anywhere around the world. They can meet future classmates with similar interests and create long-lasting friendships before the academic year begins. Whether someone attends your hybrid event offline or online, live chat drives engagement so your target audience can discover where they fit in at your school.

Elevate Your Next Event with Hybrid Features

At StudentBridge, we help educational institutions create hybrid events that drive recruitment. Incorporating informative and entertaining virtual events into the schedule allows prospective students from all walks of life to learn more about your college.

If you're ready to discuss strategies for increasing attendance and engagement at your campus events, contact us today at (678) 824-8181 or request a demo.

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