Why It Is Important to Attend Exhibitions

Although it is widely believed that we live in the digital era, we at EDUCATIVA trust that physical presence is highly important when it comes to student recruitment and we have the facts to back it up!

Easier interaction with students

Any argument or misunderstanding can easily be resolved with a calm, face to face discussion. This same principle applies for students struggling to discover their new study destination. They will always face great difficulties in deciding which university offers the best education, where they would best fit it, how easy will it be to find a job and so on. All these needs can be better understood by direct communication. Solving their issue on site and reassuring them of their choice will highly increase the chances of conversion.

Make students interested, not only informed!

Unlike search engine advertising, study choice platforms and online advertising, fairs turn initial contacts into interested leads. While the former may present facts and benefits of choosing your university over another, fairs can emphasize key selling points and strengthen the bond between a student and the university.

Highly targeted

All the students attending a university fair wish to discover their study opportunities. Having attended an international education fair, they are already filtered and willing to choose a study destination outside of their home country. Attending a fair implies making an effort towards their education, highlighting genuine interest and motivation. The only thing left is for them to get hooked to your university.

Stand-out from your competition

University fairs offer students various types of universities. They may differ in size, courses and rankings, but having all of them put together offers exhibitors a chance to differentiate from the rest of the universities.

Numerous possibilities of self-expression within the booth

Having your own booth within an exhibition is a chance for you to be creative. Decorate it as you please, make sure it’s catchy, try to be as interactive as possible in order to engage with the public and bring freebies and university branded materials for students.

The Importance of (Proactively) Engaging in Conversation at Fairs

It is widely known that cold-calling is never an issue in education marketing. And neither is proactively engaging in conversations with fair visitors.

Most prospective students are yet to decide about their academic future when visiting a recruitment fair. The average student is perhaps as willing to learn about programs and student life as he or she is shy to start a discussion with a university representative. We therefore believe that it is also the responsibility of the exhibitor to start the conversation. These active efforts may actually help you maximize the value obtained for attending a recruitment fair.

Here are three great examples of key moments to start conversing with visitors:
• Students are looking at the programs listed on roll-ups or hanging banners
• Students seem interested in taking a brochure or a freebie
• Students are searching for their registration form, likely looking to be scanned at your booth (should the fair offer a scanning system)

Close to 90 percent of all undergraduate prospects are studying in the 11th and 12th grades when attending a fair. With application deadlines around the corner, these students value all information they have access to – oftentimes without showing it. We encourage proactively engaging with these students during fairs to expose them to specifics about your offered degrees which will likely weigh heavily in their process of deciding where to study next.

A great way to begin dialogue is by asking a question. Since most conversations taking place during fair days last under 10 minutes, breaking the ice fast is key to getting the student excited about your offer. We have seen that visitors are much more responsive to current students, alumni and academics representing their universities than they are to marketers. Although having a more diverse team exhibit at fairs brings great added value, it can prove harder to manage. Make sure communication among your representatives is consistent and the following are paid attention to:

• Listening (not so much talking) helps you understand what students are actually looking for and lets you present the USPs relevant to their profile
• Questioning students helps you learn more about their interests and needs, and avoids monologues (which are rather unpopular with students)
• People buy from those they trust; therefore, building a relationship with the marketer they will later be in contact with is vital. Your student or academic might not be involved in the follow-up process at all and you will want your lead to be open to communicating with different contact persons

Regardless of the topics discussed, make sure your leads know you will be in contact at a later point. Keeping them engaged after the fair is of the utmost importance. A scanning system (should it be provided) may help you access the contact details of your leads immediately after the event. We advise you to start contacting prospective students eligible for your next intake as soon as possible for best results.

Remember that you are very likely acting as the first point of contact, and thus the face of the university and its programs to prospective students. Making a good impression will reflect positively throughout the follow-up and, eventually, the enrollment process.

How to Engage and Communicate with Students Post-Application

Recruiting students may sometimes turn out to be an overwhelming experience. There is no perfect recipe for success and there is nobody that can guarantee your accomplishment. Most marketers try to devise strategies so as to cover the whole extent of the market. But what happens when you manage to persuade a lead and you receive an application? Don’t celebrate your success just yet, you are still a long way from turning an applicant into a student.

We have run an in-depth focus group with our counsellors and have elaborated a few suggestions that may significantly improve your numbers, both in Romania and beyond.

Application Response Time

One of the most important factors in a student’s decision process is the amount of time they have to wait before receiving a response from the universities they applied to. Processing an application can take from 48 hours to 2 whole months. (Yes, there are universities that provide an answer in 2 days!) But sometimes a student may just not be willing to wait for a response for months and will choose their options sooner, just to make sure they don’t miss out on the opportunity. Needless to say, the faster you react and reply to an application, the higher your chances of being the student’s firm choice.

Send Custom Emails

Communication is a key point in any recruitment strategy, but, when dealing with a large audience, discussions become more time-efficient when done via email. A student needs to feel assured and supported when engaged in the decision-making process. Sending personalized emails is one of the factors you need to keep in mind. Send the student only essential and needed information (do not send him visa information if he is an E.U. student going to study in the U.K., for example) and address them directly in order to develop a trusted relationship. Their interest in the university will increase and they’ll be encouraged by the thought the university actually wants him or her as a student. Don’t be afraid to send many emails. It is actually better to send short, concise emails to students than to deliver a large, crowded email that may not be of any interest and will be left unread.

Catch and Retain the Student

A student may or may not have researched all their options properly. They found something about your university that they enjoyed, but do they really know everything there is to it? The major problems that students experience before actually starting their courses are financing and finding accommodation. Should you help in solving these two issues, you should significantly increase your chances of turning your applicant into a student. There are plenty of universities that offer scholarships for Romanian students, but not many of them actually advertise this apart from their website. These two topics should be approached as soon as the application comes through. Push forward the available scholarships and the vacant rooms within your campuses in order to help the students and offer them the information they need to reach a final decision.

Following Up and Updates

If you are willing to make a significant effort in order to increase the number of Romanian students on campus, then calling each one individually may increase your odds. Students will be overwhelmed to have a representative of the admissions office on the other side of the phone making sure that their interests are being looked after. These calls can later turn into conversations with Romanian students that are already on campus or even regular webinars held by students. You may discuss campus life, accommodation options or even have niche seminars regarding specific topics, depending on the courses your students apply for. According to the number of applications you are dealing with and their needs, decide on the frequency of the seminars.

Convert Your Students

If your university is actively involved in different markets and attends educational events, then make sure you take full advantage of all the benefits. Let your applicants know that you will be attending an event and ask them to stop by your booth. You may even have a small gift bag ready for them. Another option for in-depth conversations would be booking a slot within fairs in order to arrange meetings with your applicants. Some of them may not feel comfortable enough to open up if there are other people around.

If you have travelled to a specific country more than once a year, it is safe to say that you have been present in that market and offered plenty of opportunities for your applicants to meet you. If you feel though that this is not enough, you can always try a webinar. It’s easier to arrange, more comfortable and definitely more cost-effective.

As the academic year comes to an end, you may realise there are still positions open at your university. This is when you need to consider the option of attending clearing events. This may always be beneficial for you, provided you market all the remaining courses, the new requirements and the available scholarships properly. This information should reach both the students that have already registered for the clearing event, as well as prospective students that have missed the application deadline.

We hope you found this useful. Happy recruiting!

Introducing the RIUF Insider

This year we have decided for the first time to bring even more added value to our exhibitors, clients, partners and readers, thus we have begun sending the RIUF Insider – or the RIUF Newsletter. You should expect to receive an email from us once every three weeks with an update on a variety of topics. I will fully explain what we plan on doing in this article. If you have not yet received the newsletter or wish to subscribe, do it below:

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We know that summer time is a very busy time of the year for many of you. Even though you may not be travelling, there are still conversion events to attend, plans to be made and vacations to be taken. Our plan is to be as concise as possible and highlight only what is necessary and important. We will also slip in a fun fact, just for the smiles.

The main topics that we are interested in center on education, students and student life, recruitment strategies and engagement. We will cover the Baccalaureate exam results this summer and everything that is important in a Romanian student’s life. This will include some insights on attractive travel destinations, should you ever find yourself in Romania on holiday.

An important part of recruiting is significantly represented by the communication you conductwith your potential applicants. We will provide you with our professional opinion on how to operate your campaigns, starting with the post application involvement and up until conducting successful conversion events.

 

Since we specialize in organizing education fairs, we are prepared to offer some key tips on the visual side of an exhibition. We will explore how you can stand out among the attendees and grip and retain the visitors’ attention using only decorative materials and a friendly face. On the far side, we will also be compiling a list of bad habits and things that you should not do when attending exhibitions. We were surprised to learn some of them too!

Feedback shows that the RIUF fairs are some of the most well organized events in Europe, especially considering the relatively small size of our team in comparison to others. Therefore, we thought you might enjoy seeing some behind the scenes photos and finding out more about how everything gets put together and falls into place. We also have many more interesting fun facts and surprises on the way, so stay tuned to the RIUF insider for what is to follow!