The countdown is on and the Virtual Welcome Fair is nearly upon us. Not only are we so excited to welcome a whole new batch of new students, but we’re closing in on our biggest flagship event of the year! For those who don’t know, every year we do a Welcome Fair, it’s your hub for all things student activities and the best way to kickstart your year.
We know things are a little bit different this year, so we can’t offer the same in-person experience that we have done every other year, but we’re working hard to make sure you aren’t missing out and still getting the best student experience possible! At LSESU, we are committed to ensuring the LSE community is in a safe environment whilst prioritising accessibility to our events.
Here’s how we’ve changed things and how this years’ Virtual Fair is going to be SO much better of an experience than last year…
2019 - 2020: The Changes
Welcome Fair is traditionally a huge two day event across the eight floors in the Saw Swee Hock building. There’s plenty to see with 200+ stalls filled with partners, LSE departments, student groups and Union initiatives, a flow of 9300 students going through a one way system across both days, you can find exactly what you’re looking for amongst the maze. Welcome Fair is a challenge for the organisers and students to attend - having to find the stalls you’re specifically looking for through a one way system can be tiring and frustrating, and what if you turn up on the day that you’re one society isn’t present? (Trust us, it happens and we feel bad).
So fast forward to Welcome 2020… reading all of the above, aren’t you now pleased that you don’t really have to move to attend the largest event of the year? This year we are still running the two-day fair, we are still including the same stalls (plus some exciting new extras from external partners), but you just have to head to our website rather than the Saw Swee Hock building.
It will look a little different, the 6 floors have turned into three “rooms” where we have virtual stalls - broken down into Communities, Partners and the Union. BUT, this means we have still booked in 215+ this year! So, how will this work on the day? You can speak to them all digitally in each room individually, all stalls will have an instant live chat function for you to ask all of your questions and receive an answer straight away. Not only that, you’ll be able to access them through their emails, social media handles and even on Zoom with some of our Union organised Webinars at the time.
So, how is this better than previous years? Well, there are LOTS of reasons. Here are the perks of this years’ Welcome Fair compared with last years:
No queueing around Holborn
Honestly if you haven’t experienced this before, then count your lucky stars. Any current student can tell you about the queues. As much as we try to manage this as effectively as possible, when 1000+ students arrive at the same time, the building gets pretty full! Sometimes the queue can range from 30min-3hrs if you catch it at an unlucky time, the Fair is poppin’ and everyone wants to get in - you can’t really blame them but it did mean the queues were long! Luckily you don’t have to worry about queueing this year, no waiting to enter the queue and praying it doesn’t rain (last year we weren’t so lucky).
Finally, that dreaded one-way system around the building is GONE
As you can imagine, a Fair that stretches across six floors has the potential to be a huge health and safety hazard, so we introduce a one-way system around the building directed by staff and plenty of signage. How did this work before? For those of you who can’t imagine it, you go in through the entrance - walk up all 6 floors, down 8 floors until you reach our venue, then up two floors to get out of the exit. Sounds exhausting doesn’t it? Thankfully this year, you can rest your legs and not have to worry about climbing up all those stairs - we’re relieved too! By taking the fair virtual, you can navigate it in your own way. If you don’t want to visit every stall, then you don’t have to.
It’s not insanely busy or loud this time - chill vibes, browse leisurely in your own homes
Want to put some Netflix on in the background or some music of your own choice? Who is going to stop you? As you can imagine, it’s a very busy environment and can get very hot and crowded. Fitting 9300 students into one building across two days can be overwhelming and it’s hard to maintain crowd control to ensure visitors get the dedicated time they need to talk to people in. At least this year you can experience the Fair in your own environment, you have control over the atmosphere, the people and the place you’re in. It’s really more tailored to your personal experience than ever before.
You can go in twice, thrice, multiple times at the click of a button
Remember when you wanted to attend the second day to see all of the different stalls and you’d have to queue up again for 2hrs at a time? None of that this year, all of the stalls will be available on both days so you can go in as many times as you like, no limits, across both days. We are completely working around your time and your flexibility on both days, you don’t need to worry about whether the fair clashes with your plans because you can access it from anywhere and you don’t have to worry about your travel time.
You’ll gain the same information in a much more efficient and enjoyable experience
We hold our hands up, the physical fair is really hard work - for those attending, running stalls and the masterminds behind the structure of the fair. Finding where stalls are, waiting for stallholders to be free for you to chat with, navigating the crowd, the one way system, making sure you spoke to who you wanted to speak to before moving on to the next floor. This year you can click into a room and click out again when you’re done and if you really don’t want to go into the rooms, then we have a search bar to get where you want to - it couldn’t be easier! It’s much easier to talk to other students, societies and staff (and in a safer environment). No more leaning over tables, straining your ear-drums tying to hear each other or waiting around for people to be free to talk to.
It’s portable - you can access it anywhere
On the bus? Sitting outside to enjoy the lovely September weather? At home in your comfies? Pull out your mobile/iPad/laptop and access it wherever you are. You can take screenshots, make notes, it’s fun and interactive and it has everything in there for the whole two days.
It’s better for our planet - no leaflets, no pesky flyers, it’s a paper-free fair
We pride ourselves on trying to be more sustainable at LSE. So with a more digital fair, means a lot less printing - we’re being kinder to the planet and everything is accessible through your laptop anyway! No need for wasting paper this year.
Forget those flimsy barcode hand-outs - buy your membership on the spot!
Remember holding onto that crumpled bit of small paper for dear life till the end of the 8 floors to sign up for your chosen clubs or socs? You can buy your memberships digitally on the day, just remember you need to make sure you’ve registered your LSE email address to do this and the cost in memberships vary, but you can always register for a Give it a Go membership!
There’s events inside the event this year - an exciting calendar of Digital Webinars across both Fair days!
Events within an event? We have mastered inception at its finest. Make a note of our webinars on our website and come along on the day to check which ones you want to attend and come and learn about all of our extra curricular activities and initiatives. Oh and they’re free too! Just register your space ASAP by clicking here.
Most importantly - it’s a safer Welcome fair experience for all of us
As we’re all aware, there are a lot of challenges with physical interactions at the moment and we wouldn’t have been able to give you a physical fair. Now more than ever, it’s important to keep safe and prioritise your welfare. The fair is an important part of your welcome experience, so we’ve made sure you can get everything you’d normally experience but we wanted to make sure it’s safer for all of us - everybody wins and we can’t wait for you all to test it out!