Making the Most of Virtual Open Events

Virtual open events became popular throughout 2020 and 2021, with coronavirus restrictions making it impossible to hold traditional in-person events. Our team worked hard to get microsites up and running quickly for a large number of our partners, allowing them to attract prospective students and families under unique circumstances. Even as restrictions lift and in-person open events once again become possible, virtual open event microsites are still a really useful tool in attracting and retaining applicants.

Framwellgate School Durham Prospectus

Essential Information, All in One Place

During open event season, young people and their parents/carers take in a lot of information from different sources at once which can be overwhelming, and even physical materials such as prospectuses and subject handbooks can be misplaced. Open event microsites give stakeholders one place to find all the materials and information they need. This is convenient for all families, and also increases accessibility as students (such as those with SEND) are not required to remember large volumes of information in one go. Providing a comprehensive open event site demonstrates that your school/college is organised, innovative and understands the needs of its community.

Virtual open evening countdown graphic

Missing an Event Isn’t Missing Out

Before virtual open events were widely used, families had limited chances to visit a potential school/college before applying. If they were unable to attend an in-person open event they missed the opportunity to hear from staff/students and get a tour of the facilities and may therefore be less likely to apply. With a strong virtual event in place, this no longer needs to be the case. The microsites we have designed for our partners contain engaging video footage – including interviews with members of staff and students and immersive tours of the building – allowing all interested parties to get a full and accurate feel of the setting even from their own home.

A mock-up up the FAQ page on UTC Leeds' virtual open event

Attract Attendees

Virtual open event sites can be used as marketing tools themselves, giving attendees an idea of what to expect before an in-person event. This is particularly helpful for families who live slightly further away and are unsure whether to make the trip to a traditional open event. Providing an attractive microsite full of useful information and videos can place your organisation as a top option for families who may not have considered applying before, leading to greater numbers of attendees in person. By uploading additional content to the site, such as activities for students to download and complete at the event, you can go further in showing that your school/college is committed to finding fresh ways of ensuring that attendees get the most out of in-person events.

Ralph Thoresby School's virtual open event social media campaign

Be Prepared

As the first lockdown in March 2020 proved, circumstances can change quickly and factors outside your control can mean that in-person events are suddenly unable to go ahead. By ensuring that a fully populated and up-to-date virtual open event microsite is in place and ready to go, you protect your organisation from circumstances which may prevent traditional open events. Not only does this mean less potential stress for staff at your organisation, it also demonstrates to potential students and their families that your school/college is well prepared and equipped to handle difficult situations.

Easily Gauge Success

An important advantage of any digital campaign or event is the ability to check analytics showing number of attendees, as well as other details such as rough location, how they accessed the site (e.g., through a search engine, via social media, or directly using the URL), how long they spent browsing the site, and which pages they visited. Accessing this information allows you to build a detailed picture of which demographics engaged with the event and which pages were particularly useful. This data can be used to inform how you run open events and recruitment campaigns in the future, allowing your organisation to continue to evolve and grow.


At Engaging Education, we have a wealth of experience in building successful virtual open events for our partners, working alongside them to populate microsites with important information and exciting videos. For one Trust in 2020, this led to an average of 856 unique visitors attending each of three virtual open events, with an average of 3,900 page views! We are excited to continue this work to ensure virtual events maximise the potential of traditional open events, positioning our partners as top choices for stakeholders.

If you would like to discuss setting up a virtual open event for your organisation, please contact us.


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