Most admissions directors say that if they can get a prospective parent to visit their campus, then they will likely be able to enroll them. However, during the last few weeks, school leaders have had to adjust their strategies to virtual admissions and open house experiences.
The good news is that we are all in this same situation with varying degrees of “stay-at-home” orders. We are spending more time online surfing the Web, binge watching our favorite shows and “zooming” with our staff. The same is true of prospective parents.
What better way to capture their attention and interest in your school than with a virtual open house?
I have coached many school clients in recent weeks on the successful launch of their first virtual open house. I want to share with you a five-step process for how you can launch your school’s virtual open house:
1. Determine Your Online Platform
This is an important first step as you will need to determine the best platform for you to use to deliver your open house. I strongly recommend that you should use a webinar platform over a basic video conferencing service. Zoom and Gotowebinar both offer these upgraded services. A webinar is a view-only platform where attendees cannot see each other. In addition, the main benefit is the registration and attendance tracking.
2. Consider a Live or On-Demand Format
We are used to scheduling live open houses on our campuses. You can certainly plan a live virtual open house on a specific date and time. This allows for parents to register in advance and view the open house when it is scheduled. You can also record the event and make it available for any prospective parent in the future. You could choose not to do a live event, and instead, produce an on-demand virtual open house. This works by pre-recording the open house without a live audience and then making it available for parents to view on-demand, anytime that they want. This is exactly how I have put together my most recent webinars.
3. Develop Your Content and Program
Think about the content that you typically present at an open house. This will give you the basis for what you need to do in a virtual format. I recommend that you follow this format. First, you will want someone to provide continuity throughout your program as the main presenter. Usually, this might be the admissions director or head of school. Second, the program should begin with a welcome and overview of your school. You will want to connect with your parents by sharing some of their pain points and how your school provides the solution. This overview could include five primary reasons why a parent chooses your school.
Third, you should take them on a virtual tour of your school. This could be as simple as putting together 10-15 slides in PowerPoint of your school’s campus when students were in classes. You can highlight your school by discussing the slides and key stats about the school. Fourth, after the tour, it would be great to have a few testimonials from parents, faculty and/or students. Fifth, you will want to review your application process and the next steps. Finally, if your open house is live, you can interact with your audience’s questions. Overall, this program should last between 30-60 minutes.
4. Advertise Your Open House
Once you have moved through the first three steps, you will want to advertise your open house. You should blitz your online outlets including your website, Facebook, and Instagram. Paid ads on social media and search engines are also effective ways to target your audience. In addition, you should contact all of your inquiries to let them know about this new virtual experience.
5. Hold Your Open House
This last step is the easiest one of all. The hard work is finished and now you can go live or launch your on-demand open house. Several schools that I have worked with have launched virtual open houses. The team at The Village School of Naples were one of the early adopters of this strategy. You can check out recordings of their virtual open houses. Also, during a recent Facebook Live Show, I interviewed their team—Dennis Chapman, Cameron Steese, and Nicole St. Amand—about how they implemented their virtual open houses.
Have you launched a virtual open house at your school?
Are you planning to host a virtual open house?
Click here to read this article on the Enrollment Catalyst website.