Broadcasts and more than 30,000 attendees
Maintained high registration rates in a learn-from-home world
Increase in open day registration
Name: La Trobe University
Headquarters: Melbourne, Australia
La Trobe has been one of Australia’s pioneering universities for more than 50 years and has grown to accommodate more than 36,000 students, with over 7,000 international students from 110 countries. The university has a network of campuses, with more than 28,000 students at the Melbourne Campus and more than 7,500 at campuses in Albury-Wodonga, Bendigo, Mildura, Melbourne City (Collins Street), Shepparton and Sydney.
Founded with the intention to make higher education more accessible in Melbourne and regional Victoria, La Trobe University has served tens of thousands of students for more than 50 years. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, La Trobe held an annual “Open Day” event designed to give current and prospective students the chance to learn more about courses and careers, tour the campuses, get a taste of “uni life,” hear about scholarship opportunities, explore accommodation options and more. This event was responsible for a large majority of course enrollment.
Quick transition to a digital event strategy.
Australia went into lockdown in March 2020, cancelling all public
events — even those in Melbourne, Victoria, the province La Trobe University calls home. Undertaking a market scan during March and April, La Trobe University signed up for ON24® Webcast Elite and Engagement Hub at the end of April to move all their sales events and public engagement events online. The university quickly realised it could use the ON24 Digital Experience Platform to deliver its Regional and Melbourne-based “Open Day” events virtually through digital experiences.
Traditionally, “Open Day” takes place in person at each of La Trobe University’s five campuses in August each year and includes tours, presentations from professors and students, in-person Q&A sessions, and interactive activities with clubs, societies, sports partners and support services. Visitors get to tour the campus, meet the academics who will teach their course and ask plenty of questions. But in 2020, in the midst of a global pandemic, Victoria Dillon, Manager of University Events at La Trobe, and her team knew physical events were off the table.
“We wanted to be the first University to announce our Open Day would be taking place virtually, so we had to move fast and furiously,” said Dillon. “My concern was that if we went out too early, people would not yet be comfortable with the concept of attending virtually because they are used to coming on campus. So the question was how we could communicate what life is like as a student at La Trobe, our culture and expertise, yet recreate the same personal experience. How can we provide all the information and solutions for a prospective student about what life is like on-campus when we’re forced to be off-campus?”
Open Days are traditionally a day which Australian Universities depend on to generate sales leads and drive enrollment. Finding ways to get students to register with the right lead information, attend and stay engaged throughout the digital event was imperative. They would also need to find ways to coordinate and record dozens of academics from multiple departments, from five campuses, facilitate informational sessions, host live Q&A in order to meet the requirements that on campus Open Day has always featured.
A dynamic, engaging digital event that exceeded staff and student expectations La Trobe used ON24 Webcast Elite to create interactive sessions ranging from course descriptions to campus tours, accommodation options to support services, with live hosts managing Q&As in real time, both in writing and verbally. This allowed academics to record in advance with teleprompters to get a professional multi-use asset and avoid potential bandwidth issues on broadcast day, while still delivering a live event.
“By launching our Open Day early, we were able to display leadership in the sector and drive traffic, but we still wanted to give people the chance to return at a later date once they had visited other University Open Days and start to plan preferences,” said Dillon.
With the ON24 Engagement Hub, the university created a content portal including most of the sessions on-demand, allowing students who attended the live event to come back for more information on their own timelines, and to filter for the content most relevant to them.
“What’s really great about the platform is the chance to see who is engaging with what content and how often. We had one potential who came back and watched our nursing video six times! We know we’ll be seeing her next year.”
Using this engagement data, La Trobe could follow up with registrants and attendees based on their digital behavior and intent signals. No shows received emails with information about accessing the Engagement Hub, and attendees received emails with more information about the courses and departments they expressed interest in during the live event. It also allowed the sales team to direct any subsequent new leads to the Hub where they could access all the information in one place.
“ON24 has really worked for us for public engagement. Importantly, I can keep the audience on our broadcast for finding supporting documentation, or using multiple software solutions in order to ask a question or run a poll. Plus it allows us to subtly promote our courses through nontraditional sales experiences.”
MANAGER, UNIVERSITY EVENTS, LA TROBE UNIVERSITY
La Trobe coordinated and recorded 100 sessions in eight weeks with the ON24 Digital Experience Platform. Open Day attracted an increase of 167% over last year’s event—and maintained La Trobe’s enrollment numbers despite the shift to a learn-from-home setting.
Furthermore, because of the new virtual approach, La Trobe expanded its reach into three key markets: China, India and Vietnam. “Anecdotal feedback from our South Asia Manager is that we were one of the first Australian Universities to get into the online virtual event market with an offering that was professional, branded and NOT Zoom—so we stood out from the others,” said Dillon.
“ON24 has really worked for us. It’s so engaging and easy to use. Plus it allows us to subtly sell our courses through a variety of virtual, non-traditional sales experiences. We use it for public lectures, panel discussions, research briefings and even a live food tasting science broadcast for one of the largest events as part of National Science Week. I’m so very proud and enthusiastic about our ON24 journey to date and see enormous potential for us moving forward. We will be using the platform to broadcast our end of year Staff Awards and our online graduation ceremonies for our graduates. I’m especially keen to expand our strategic offering in the Simu-live area for our Student Success teams to help new students transition into studying with La Trobe.”
“I’m just so very proud and enthusiastic about our ON24 journey to date and see enormous potential for us moving forward.”
MANAGER UNIVERSITY EVENTS, LA TROBE UNIVERSITY