During the pandemic, I think we’ve all experienced the frustration of having to utilize different virtual events platforms such as Zoom or Teams to try to create experiences for prospective students or alumni.
Everybody wants to have community. Everybody wants to share an experience.
People want community, whether it’s an event you’re putting on, a virtual tour, or a college fair where they’re trying to figure out where to go to college.
Remo is another tool that I think can really help you create a true sense of community during your virtual events.
On The Higher Ed Marketer podcast, we spoke with Hoyin Cheung, the Founder and CEO of Remo.co, about his quest to humanize the virtual experience.
What is Remo?
The very first task we had for Hoyin was to give us an idea of the Remo platform.
As a virtual, immersive platform, Remo’s claim is that they are “the best guest experience on the market right now for very immersive and human-like virtual events.”
Here’s how they do that.
Imagine you’re using Google Maps, and you’re scrolling into the map by zooming in. When you zoom in, you might see a building.
Imagine you could zoom in further into that building and see the actual tables in that building. Then, you see a bunch of circles on [the tables], like an overhead view of the map.
You can [also] see a bunch of circles of people’s faces. If you click onto a table, you will see the videos of the people who are sitting at that table.
You can move [throughout the building from table to table] to have authentic conversations with different people in this space.
What makes Remo Different?
I think every virtual event or online meeting platform would claim to be “immersive” or to be a place where the user can have “authentic conversations.”
But Remo seems to have found a way to make that happen differently than other platforms.
Hoyin explained what makes Remo so different.
Remo puts the movement in the hands of the guests. The guest is in the driver’s seat.
They’re not a passive audience member. They’re not just like a passenger on the roller coaster –they’re controlling the roller coaster itself!
Because of that, it’s required of them to turn on their microphone and camera. Once you do that, [you get] 3.2 times more engagement because now you have an active participant.
There’s no scenario where that person can look at their email while they’re doing an event or do something else. [The environment] doesn’t really allow them to do that, because you have to respond to the people that are actually talking to you.
You can actually go and seek out different people [in the virtual building]. The customized floor plan allows a lot of universities to replicate their real university buildings, making it feel really real.
How Can You Use Remo for Higher Ed Virtual Events?
Of course, my podcast co-host, Troy Singer, and I wanted to hear the practical applications of Remo for higher ed marketing.
Our layout can be used as a job fair so employers don’t have to fly in.
[Employers] come in, sit at their table for like an hour, and they can [interact with] their candidates as the candidates ask them questions.
It’s a situation where the candidates come to your table, and your video is already on, and you can see them. It’s almost like you’re [physically] there.
I like the way Remo reinforces the idea of being present during virtual events by requiring the camera and microphone to be on.
During physical events, you’re constantly being seen and seeing people. Constant interaction.
Virtual events can get really impersonal as people simply shut off their cameras and mics and do other things while the event is occurring.
This next application for Remo is an extremely creative solution to a problem facing many graduate students looking for grant funding or project collaboration.
People also use Remo for poster sessions. A poster session is like a trade Expo. Each graduate student sits at a big table, basically. Each table has its own whiteboard [and that’s] where they put their entire poster.
People will come to those tables [virtually due to] travel restrictions or [tight] budgets, who want to give grants or look for collaborators. [This way, people can] easily look for projects or look for collaboration on a mass basis.
Alumni Virtual Events
You’ve probably already thought that Remo would be great for alumni virtual events.
And that’s exactly where Hoyin went next.
Remo’s guest-focused environment allows for the kind of networking and mingling you would expect from an alumni gathering.
Another [way to use Remo] is alumni networking and for enrollment. For prospective students who are looking at different universities, they can come [to your virtual event], and they don’t have to fly.
Flying is a pretty big step. They may want to learn a little bit more without that full cost commitment. [But with Remo], the best thing is you get to talk to someone [who could possibly be an] alumnus [during your virtual events].
That makes the sales pitch much more human and much more attractive, because now students can get a better impression. [Schools] we’ve worked with for enrollment said their enrollment numbers have gone higher than before because they were able to put a face to a name.
The Very Real Challenges of Hybrid Events
During this part of the conversation, I brought up the idea of hybrid events where you have an in-person audience and a virtual audience on Zoom or another platform simultaneously, to see if Remo could pull them off.
But while talking about Remo’s capabilities for hybrid events, Hoyin helped us identify some of the massive challenges of going hybrid with your events.
First off, retrofitting classrooms to make events or classes a hybrid experience is costly.
[Hybrid events] are happening right now at a fast pace in corporate. They’re upgrading their equipment in their meeting rooms, but universities are still kind of taking some time.
There are just more classrooms! It’s going to take more time [to upgrade classroom technology to accommodate the hybrid experience].
Secondly, universities are still trying to understand how hybrid events work.
[Schools are] trying to figure out hybrid. They’re all trying to figure out how to make it work.
And I have to tell you, hybrid classrooms are a really tough problem. Truly making it hybrid – not just some stream cast – is very, very difficult. Some people are doing it, but I think there needs to be more time to kind of see it really mature and make it a really good experience.
I think we all can relate to what Hoyin is saying here.
There is a lot more work to be done in this space when it comes to hybrid events or classes.
Finally, hybrid events are really two distinct events running simultaneously.
When we think of hybrid college fairs, we often imagine a hall where the college fair is being held, and there are all these tables where you have admissions counselors sitting at their laptops.
These admissions counselors are connected to their microphones and their webcams while also interacting with the people in front of them.
Same goes with hybrid classrooms.
We imagine a teacher giving a class to physically present students while also addressing a much larger virtual classroom with a monitor, microphone, and camera.
This is hybrid, right?
Well, it’s more complicated than that.
In that situation, what we actually advise is, don’t do it.
First of all, running an event is already stressful. Then, to run a virtual and a physical with one person? I would never do that to anyone.
What we’ve seen [that is successful] is to run two parallel events.
[That means] there are two separate teams that do that. This is where hybrid gets a bit tricky.
People think hybrid is one team doing two things. Or one budget, same budget for two things.
[But in] reality, you need more budget, and you need more people if you want to do a really well-executed hybrid.
[People need to realize] that they are actually two different audiences: people who come physically, who maybe live nearby, versus people online, like international students, or people in small towns that don’t have the budget.
This last point Hoyin made about hybrid events could be the biggest takeaway of the entire podcast!
Really, there needs to be two budgets with two teams, one in-person and the other online.
Then, run the events simultaneously to make it “hybrid.”
If we as marketers can leverage this insight, it could be a real game changer as hybrid has the potential to exponentially multiply the number of potential students in attendance.
Discover more when you listen to the podcast!
Like all of our blog post reviews of The Higher Ed Marketer podcasts, there’s so much more to learn in the podcasts themselves.
Listen to our interview with Hoyin Cheung to get even more insights into:
- How Remo works and how it differentiates from a platform like Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
- How Remo is utilized in Higher Education and how it increases engagement between faculty, students, and alumni.
- The challenges of hybrid events and Remo’s plans to overcome them.
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Images via remo.co