In recent years, we have increasingly been asking ourselves why international education fairs and face-to-face events remain crucial moments in a market that is now hyper-digital. Wouldn’t been easier for agents and students to find all the information they need on the internet rather than attend fairs?
Feliciano Marcantonio, owner of Eurotour Viaggi in Pescara, offers his point of view in an interview with ETN Focus:
“I attend educational fairs because it’s important to know the partner personally. If I look for a school on the internet I don’t have direct contact. I also attend fairs because they are a real starting point for marketing services, and lots of other interesting things”
Websites can provide multiple information about the schools or language courses they offer but it’s often very difficult for them to anticipate all the curiosity a student might have about a particular course or accommodation.
The result is that students may feel frustrated at not getting all the information they need from a school website – for example, when their questions are not answered quickly enough, when a site is not well designed and can’t easily find the information they are looking for.
Schools that decide to engage in the recruitment of international students, could find expensive and time-consuming to send a representative to different countries to visit local agents to discuss students’ needs and concerns.
Yet, school representatives have the opportunity to learn much more quickly while participating in an educational event; they often manage to create lasting relationships that go well beyond the actual moment of the fair.
International fairs offer representatives of worldwide schools the opportunity to build relationships with the agents present and connect with them through real conversations.
A Washington Post article reflects on the value of face-to-face business meetings, “It’s intangibles that matter…[such as] a trust level from a casual conversation and a handshake”
Yes, the famous handshake is essential to build a working relationship with someone you know, with whom you have shared an event or simply a lunch or a coffee: above all it helps to consolidate collaborations that will more easily last over time.
Vanessa Bohns of Cornell University explains in the Harvard Business Review, that her research reveals that in-person contacts can be more than 30 times more effective than text-based communication; “We have found” she states “that people tend to overestimate the power of their persuasiveness via text-based communication, and underestimate the power of their persuasiveness via face-to-face communication”.