Whether you are looking to create online events as a way to ensure social distancing amid the pandemic, save on the environmental impact of travel, or to provide more accessible options for international students and those who are unable to easily travel to attend functions in person, providing online virtual tours, open days and experiences can be hugely beneficial for students looking to get a better idea of their prospective university.
So this week we're giving you our team's round-up of the best solutions out there to bring your campus to their computer, covering the best platforms available and the ways you can implement and utilize them to the best effect.
Hopin is a relatively new, venture-backed, all-in-one, online events platform that allows users to create engaging virtual experiences for large and small groups.
The platform offers everything you would expect from a live awards symposium, speaker event or expo, including a virtual reception room to greet guests, stages for broadcasting content via live video, session areas for live group breakouts, networking tools that pair people up in one-on-one conversations and expo areas that allow you to create a virtual vendor booth exhibition hall, with booths featuring pre-recorded or live video, customizable call-to-action buttons, and dedicated chat rooms.
Hopin gives great control over every aspect of events, allowing you to change the colors of the event interior to your branded colors, design your event's landing page, promote and sell tickets, manage registrations, and monitor signups from your event dashboard. The platform also allows for recordings and analytics gathering so you are able to keep and share the event content beyond the event itself and gain insights from attendee data. The feature-set is rich and although it's a relatively new product we expect institutions will grow their interest in, and ways of using Hopin.
vFairs is another great platform for staging online events, re-creating the feeling of an actual event with people milling about and realistic avatars, whilst also offering robust chat tools, webinars, and immersive booths that allow you to connect people from all over the world in a fully realized virtual experience.
The vFairs platform can be used by universities to create fully remote online open days, live events with easy access to keynotes and breakout sessions, and recruitment or freshers fairs with customizable exhibitor booths, on-demand content, chat forums, and convenient online order placement.
YouTour is a virtual open day platform, available to schools and universities across Australia and New Zealand, that allows you to create beautifully filmed campus tours and post them on your website and social channels and use it at conferences and events as a way to showcase your campus and share a snapshot of student life.
The YouTour filming utilizes drone cameras, ultra-high 360-degree image capture and allows for the upload of additional video and images to create a final video that is then hosted on the YouTour server for easy access and sharing as required.
As well as creating high-quality footage, YouTour also allows institutions to narrate their campus tour, giving interested students deeper insights into university programs, unique selling points, and guiding their attention to key areas along their journey. The platform also offers universities a choice of music to add to the tour video as well as the option to change the voiceover for different countries, enabling you to cater to different market needs.
Another campus tour platform, this time available for universities worldwide, is CampusTours which builds video tours, photorealistic interactive campus maps, mobile walking tours, and custom data-driven multimedia applications for education, nonprofit, and government clients.
CampusTours photorealistic and 3D Vector map artwork can provide a great 'first glimpse' of your campus and give an immediate impression for those researching your institution, with maps available for use online and in print.
The platform's customizable content-managed virtual tour offering allows organizations to weave together maps, videos, and other tour elements into unique and memorable online experiences, with the option to create an immersive experience of sight and sound using CampusTours virtual reality capabilities.
#5. EAB Virtual Campus Tours
Interactive content and enrollment marketing firm EAB has acquired the YouVisit virtual campus tour company and now offers institutions the opportunity to create campus tours that together with analytics and marketing support that can help differentiate, convey culture, and tell a university's unique story.
EAB campus tour experiences layer immersive 360 videos with interactive clickable elements to encourage participation and support visual learning, utilizing a combination of proprietary technology and award-winning studio production teams.
Institutions are also crafting experiences in-house
In addition to the platforms mentioned above, there are a number of other ideas and innovations in on-demand online content that universities can take inspiration from.
One area that is becoming increasingly streamlined for open day events is virtual reality tours. For students wanting to find out more about colleges in North Carolina and Mississippi, for example, apps by organizations such as GEAR UP VR and Get2College allow students to take a more immersive, virtual reality tour of any of the schools within the University of North Carolina and Mississippi systems on via their phone and a Google Cardboard or VR headset device.
For universities looking to create great experiences on a budget, there are also a number of options available that allow you to combine technologies and create virtual tours yourself. Advances in filming and editing technology have made creating projects yourself even easier, with apps such as Matterport making it possible to create immersive, 3D video experiences.
And when creating an online experience for prospective students, institutions can also look at utilizing pre-prepared video and landing page content, putting out live youtube and Instagram stories, connecting students via online video conferencing platforms such as Zoom for events and talks, and allowing prospective students to connect with student ambassadors via platforms such as UniBuddy or The Access Platform for more intimate, peer-to-peer conversations.
What software have you had good experiences with in helping to move your campus visit experiences online? We'd love to hear.
Meanwhile, institutions looking for further inspiration and advice on the ways to host a successful virtual event can check out our tops tips article here.