Storytelling about vFairs with Muhammad Younas

Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 123. This week we have storytelling about vFairs with Muhammad Younas. During this episode, Muhammad and I talk about how practitioners make the business case or the use case for purchasing vFairs.

Muhammad is an expert in all things virtual events and strategy. His passion for creating a virtual/hybrid event that truly encompasses the reality of a physical event really comes through during the podcast.

Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think.

Thanks, William

Show length: 24 minutes


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William:  00:24
Ladies and gentlemen this is William Tincup and you are listening to The Use Case podcast. Today we have Muhammad on from vFairs and we’re going to be talking about the use case, that’s this case, for why and how people buy vFairs. So let’s just jump right into it. Muhammad, do us a favor and introduce yourself and also introduce vFairs.

Muhammad:  00:47
Thanks William. My name is Muhammad Younas. I’m the CEO of vFairs. vFairs is a virtual event solution. We work with a lot of companies out there to help them run any type of virtual event. Be it be a virtual career fair, job fair, conference, trade shows, open days and so forth. The way our platform typically work is that if you have been doing any physical event, you can now use that physical event and try to convert that into a virtual or hybrid event and vFairs helps you do that.

William:  01:22
So you obviously touched on some recruiting parts of this, but I would assume that there’s HR, events, ERGs, SIGs, things like that. So let’s give the audience a couple of examples. A career fair, especially during the pandemic of course, but even in the future, you want to do an event that’s DNI related, you want to do black engineers or whatever, you can make really bespoke, smaller events or you can do large events. Let’s give them a kind of a flair for how they use it, both in recruiting and HR.

Muhammad:  02:03
Absolutely. In fact that’s how the entire vFairs actually started. So when I was back doing my Masters at University of Texas at Austin, I used to attend job fairs in order to look for jobs and I noticed that I’m not talk to any of the recruiters in one of those big companies. I have to wait in line for hours in order to just have a chat conversation with one of the recruiters out there in those physical events. By the time you get there, you kind of realize that a lot of other people are also waiting and the rep is trying to just really wrap up the conversation in a couple of minutes, right?

Muhammad:  02:39
So what we were trying to achieve was that anything that happens in an actual physical job fair, how can you help both attendees and employers achieve that, but from the comfort of their home or office and remove all the inefficiencies that happen in that particular job fair, right?

Muhammad:  02:57
Because I remember still I was in a physical job fair, I was giving my resume to a lot of these employers and these employers were just putting those resumes in this one big box. You can almost literally see that it’s very hard for them to really kind of sift through all of those hundreds and thousands of resumes. So the way vFairs platform work is that any organization can come to our platform and first of all, can create a virtual environment.

The way vFairs is very different is that it allows you to create a work environment that is very memorable. What I mean by that is that it will actually mimic the headquarters office of that particular company. So you, as a company, want to make sure that you actually make attendees feel as if they are actually coming to your corporate office, your headquarters office, you want to actually greet them with actual people avatars. Then you want to have the best match between the candidates and recruiters being happened there so that the right candidate can talk to the right rep and that conversation is very meaningful.

William:  04:01
I love it. Go ahead. No, no.

Muhammad:  04:05
Yep. So we allow you to achieve that and a couple of things, just because you mentioned earlier, a couple of things that makes vFairs very different is that the look and feel of this platform mimics what the customer brand is. So you will actually feel that you have attended a particular company even, that’s one. The second thing is, as a company, you can also really kind of paint what your vision and mission of the company is.

How much you care about things like diversity and inclusion, right? So you can actually put avatars of again, different background, different diversity, et cetera, to really showcase if you’re trying to hire let’s say just back engineers, you can do that. If you’re trying to hire across multiple candidate profiles, you can also do that and so forth. That’s where we are very different than a typical version and platform provider in terms of how the platform looks like and in terms of how inclusive it can be. You can show that within our platform.

William:  05:04
I love that. So for folks that are listening, what are some of the do’s and don’ts of kind of a virtual event?

Muhammad:  05:11
Yeah, I think the do’s and don’ts is that, like any physical fair, you need to plan for it, whether it is the recruiter or attendee. You need to go out there with your best for preparation, so if you are a company, if you are a recruiter, you want to make sure that your booth is well set up because the same way that people come and see your actual physical booth and you want to make sure that it looks nice and it looks beautiful, you want to have the best giveaways, pamphlets, brochures.

You also want to do that virtually, right? Because in a virtual world you will have 10 times more people looking at your booth versus what happens in a physical world. Physical world, you might be able to interact with hundred, 200 people. In a virtual world, we have run events where thousand candidates would show up, 10,000 would show up and we have run events, with literally hundred thousand people showing up, right? So, again, present your brand in the best possible way and it requires preparation. That’s one.

Muhammad:  06:08
The second thing is, even though it’s virtual and you can be a lot more efficient, you can literally chat with 3, 4, 5 people at the same time versus in a physical world where you can literally talk to 1% a time, you still need to staff it and manage properly, right? Because a lot more people are going to show up to have chat conversations with you and you want to make sure that you are staffing your booth properly. That’s second.

Muhammad:  06:31
The third is, technology allows you to be extremely efficient, right? So you are going to get sometimes repeat question about, “How can I apply for a job?”, “How can I differentiate myself from other candidates?” And so forth? You want to make sure that you use the technology that helps you brand as an employer of choice, but then that also lets you be more efficient, which is trying to match you as a recruiter with candidate properly through AI through matchmaking.

And then we also try to avoid any of the things that you don’t have to do manually, that can be automated for you, which is again what vFairs help you provide.

Muhammad:  07:05
So these are some of the things that you, the company or recruiter should care about. When it comes to attendees, again, you need to prepare even like how you dress, because a lot of these employers, recruiters not only want to have text chat with you, but they also want to have now video chat with you.

Muhammad:  07:23
We have seen that since pandemic has happened, a lot of employers now prefer audio video chat over text chat, because now they’re a lot more prepared even from their side, right? Just to be comfortable with those video conversation. So again dress properly, dress as if you’re actually going to a physical job fair. Again, be ready with your elevator pitch, right? These recruiters still have less time, even though through technology you are going to be matched with the right recruiter.

So you are actually talking to someone in most cases where have an actual need and the likelihood that you can be shortlisted is a lot more, but that also means that there’s a lot of competition. You want to make sure that those couple of minutes that you having with recruiters, you are well-prepared in terms of what you’re looking for, you have done the research about the company and the first couple of minutes you make that first-grade impression so that recruiters kind of elongate that conversation and have you considered for their openings.

William:  08:22
So I know you get asked this probably daily, but on the back end for the corporate side, analytics metrics, reporting, what did they care about? Like currently what are they looking at? What do they care about?

Muhammad:  08:38
Companies, they care about the entire funnel and they want to see the ROI with any platform, including vFairs, right? What they get with vFairs is the following. They, through our platform, would know how many people RSVP for that virtual event and they already seeing that when they’re using things like job boards or social platforms, when it comes to a virtual event, the people who are signing up for it is a lot more than an application to a typical job post because attendees here know that they have a chance to actually talk to a recruiter. So any time they are marketing a virtual event, attendance levels has been just record high.

They have always been high compared to physical event, but ever since pandemic has happened, the attendance rate has gone up by at least another 60, 70% versus pre-pandemic virtual events.

Muhammad:  09:31
That’s fine. They want to see how many people are actually signing up for event, which is an interest from an attendee side to participate in virtual events. That’s one.

Muhammad:  09:39
The second thing is how many people are actually logging in on the day, right? It’s one thing that thousand people are going to sign up. How many of them are actually going to log in on that day? And again, those logged in attendance versus registered users have been also extremely high.

Muhammad:  09:56
The third thing is how many people are actually applying for jobs. And they can track that once these people have logged in, they have learned about the company, they have viewed the openings that this particular company has, how many of them are actually applying for jobs.

Muhammad:  10:08
And fourth, but not last one, is that how many of them have had shared conversations with recruiters? How many of them have had just the initial call, which is just intro call, and then how many of them have moved from the initial application to actually shortlisted and have had a further call with a line manager. They can track this entire recruitment funnel from interest in an organization, all the way to application and even at a certain stage after a couple of months, once they have gone through all of those hiring processes, how many of them actually got hired to a virtual event? They track all of that.

William:  10:44
I love that because that helps them get to source of hire, which is one of the holy grails of recruiting. So one of the things I heard earlier in the week was about no shows, especially in high volume situations, is that at least the stats that the person was telling me is that half the people accept the job, don’t show up on the first day. Of those, that show up on the first day, once they go through onboarding, half of those don’t continue working, which blows my mind on like every level, but when it comes to virtual events, how do you coach your corporate clients and things like that as to, again, registered versus attended and what they should be looking for, what success looks like?

Muhammad:  11:36
Sure. I think it’s a great point and something that we come across with our customers every now and then, the thing that they’re trying to avoid, right? And what we all have learned through our direct interaction with attendees and with employers and then of course through notes from our employers, is that engagement with attendees has become extremely important. It’s a very, very competitive world out there and what we all want to make sure is that-

Muhammad:  12:08
My apologies, sorry for that.

Muhammad:  12:14
So what has happened in each one of those things is that you want to make sure that at every level you are fully engaging with attendees and you want to make sure that you are confirming their interest at each stage of the application. Given that it’s a remote world out there, given that a lot of these new hires are applying remotely, are joining companies remotely, their first day with the company is remote, that engagement with attendees has become more and more important.

Muhammad:  12:44
What our platform allows you to do is that it allows you to automate a lot of those things. If you want to automate reminders for yourself, you want to automate reminders with the candidates and then the platform itself should allow you to engage with candidates in a fun way so that you don’t have to do activity at every point to keep them engaged, but the platform allows them to get more information about the company, how the onboarding process is going to look like and so forth. So the idea is to have that touch point throughout this recruitment journey and ensure that that engagement level is there so that you have less no-shows and less churn later on in the process.

William:  13:22
I love that you brought up engagement because it’s essentially the candidate experience, right? And the more you kind of, as a recruiter or hiring manager, the more you invest in that experience, the less chance that you’re going to have the no-shows and also the wrong people applying for the wrong jobs, et cetera. What’s working right now for your clients in terms of that engagement? Is it SMS? Is it chatbots? Is it email? Like what’s working for them in terms of keeping?

Cause I agree with you wholeheartedly in terms of keeping the pulse and making sure that you know that you registered, but I want to keep in touch with you just because you registered. I want to know more about you, want to answer your questions. I want to do all that type stuff. I want to make sure you show up. So what have you seen with your customers, what have you seen that works?

Muhammad:  14:16
So it’s a really well, whether it’s SMS reminders, whether it’s reminder emails, a lot of those things are okay, but I’ll tell you one thing that has helped our customers more than anything else, other than the regular features that you’ll find. It’s really how you’re able to share the company culture in a nice and fun way.

The reason that these virtual events are extremely popular nowadays, is that unlike a typical platform, whether it’s an ATS platform or whether it’s just a job board or any other places where every message pretty much looks the same, a virtual environment can look and can actually let these attendees get a feel of the company culture.

Muhammad:  14:59
As I mentioned, you get to see or you get to experience how the company headquarters look like, how the actual people in that particular company looks like, you have far more face time with recruiters and line managers. You get to see a lot of other information about the company through videos, documents, through scheduled chat conversations, through live webinars and so forth. The more people learn about the company, the more attendees learn about the culture of the company.

Naturally, you want to be a part of it versus just a typical email reminder or SMS reminder, which does not have let’s say any life on its own. It’s just a message good for a reminder and it does work, but you want to make sure that attendees actually fall in love with the company. They care about the role, they care about the company, they care about what the mission and vision of the company. That’s why sometimes you need things beyond just typical SMS or an email reminder and that’s what virtual event platforms like vFairs help you do that.

William:  15:57
I love that. What have you heard from recruiters in HR or your clients in terms of what virtual looks like in a post pandemic world?

Muhammad:  16:09
Yeah, I think one of the things that they have figured out now is that even though there’s a lot of kind of war to get the right talent, there’s a lot of fight to get the right talent, but just because virtual world now allows you to really hire talent from anywhere in the world, these virtual events allows you to really kind of hire talent, not just in your own city or in your own kind of state, but anywhere in the country or sometimes anywhere in the world, right?

So just that there’s still a huge amount of talent that’s out there, but as I said previously, their ways of sourcing talent was very much limited to a certain geography or certain location, but just because now these employees can literally be based anywhere, it has also opened up that talent world for these organizations.

Muhammad:  17:04
So that’s something that they have seen that it works and as far as you can ensure that you are engaging with this talent in a right way, you’re onboarding them in a right way, you’re training them in the right way, they can still be extremely productive from wherever they work from.

William:  17:20
I love that, great answer by the way. All right. So let’s move to a couple buying questions, when practitioners buy vFairs and the questions that they should ask, et cetera. So the first one is when buying, if they’ve never bought from virtual events, a platform, what are the questions that you love to hear from prospects?

Muhammad:  17:48
I think what we typically want to learn from these prospects is that how our platform is being used for multiple reasons by the HR people, by the TA, by the recruiters, right? Some of them would use it purely for recruitment and actually the first question would be how many number of events you plan to run over the next three months, six months, 12 months, because based on that, you can buy a vFairs package accordingly.

Muhammad:  18:17
Second one is that, do you also want to use it also for information purpose? Because recruitment is one thing, but recruitment starts from these attendees, these candidates learning about your company. So you want to have an on-demand platform that anyone can access throughout the year, learning more about your company, learning more about the roles that you continuously hire. Do you plan to have some of those information sessions throughout the year? So that’s just another one.

Muhammad:  18:44
The third one is, okay, once you have hired these people, do you also want to use our platform for onboarding? And sometimes these customers also using our platform for internal hiring. Some of these are really big Fortune 500 companies and sometimes they have a lot of these openings, but they want to consider internal employees first before they go out and look at for external candidates. These are some of the things that we typically ask so that we can offer the right package to our customers.

William:  19:10
I love that. So you touched on it just a little bit, but I want to kind of, for the audience, I want to make sure I understand pricing in terms of kind of what your, I don’t need to know dollars and cents, but just your philosophy and your kind of your model of the way that you price vFairs.

Muhammad:  19:27
Sure. So our pricing is like, we typically do it two ways. One of them is that a lot of our customers, especially in the recruitment use case, they are our annual customers because they will be using our platform throughout the year. So they will just go ahead and sign up with our annual license. But sometimes we come across customers who have just a particular event need. “Oh, I want to do an online career fair for university students,” right? ”

And I just want to use it for one day or for three days on this particular day,” right? So they can buy just the event credits if they have a very specific need. Or as I said, almost a good 90% of our customers, they sign up for an annual license because they have the need for refills throughout the year. We only charge you for what you want to use. That’s why we have both options. We have transactional, which is one off or otherwise annual license, which is throughout the year.

William:  20:21
I love it. All right. Let’s talk a little bit about the demo. When people see vFairs for the first time, what are the features and what’s the stuff that they fall in love with?

Muhammad:  20:35
Yeah. The stuff that they fall in love with is like how visually appealing our interface is, right? Again, we want our events to be memorable. We want that when attendees come and attend an extra career fair or job fair of a particular company, they would remember that for the rest of their life. They would remember that, “Oh, I actually attended an event of XYZ company.”

So our event will actually look very different from one company to another because each one of them will actually have the visual look and feel of how that company headquarters office look like or how they want to portray to the attendees. So the very first time they will actually see the very first screen, you will actually see that their eyes are popping, they’re saying, “Oh wow, it’s amazing. It’s beautiful.” This is a visual look and feel that within the first 15 seconds, our clients likely fall in love with.

Muhammad:  21:21
And then it’s really about the depth of feature set. That it’s not about just how pretty the platform looks, it’s also about how we have built such a depth of feature set that actually help them solve problems within recruitment, within onboarding, within interviewing – all of those things.

William:  21:38
I love it. Okay. So, you mentioned briefly, or we talked a little bit about the funnel and also source of hire, but your customers where they tie this in together, HR tech stack or their TA tech stack, where does vFairs, what should it be connected to?

Muhammad:  21:58
Yeah. It’s typically connected to an ATS system also, right? Because when you’re trying to run this virtual career fair, job fair, you’ll have your virtual booth for different departments and you want to pull jobs through an ATS system that directly appears within your platform, right? So you’re going to say add jobs manually, but again, a lot of organizations that we work with are pretty big organizations or medium sized organizations and I ideally what works easy for them is that if you can just pull up the RSS feed or an API of an ATS system and directly show jobs within this virtual environment, right?

So ATS is what we connect closely with and sometimes very, very few times it’s really with an onboarding solution. So once through our platform they have had a chat with the candidate, et cetera, if they want to send that candidate information to a CRM system for further communication or to an onboarding platform for further conversations, they can do that.

William:  22:50
So three years from now, you and I are having a conversation and we look backwards. What’s success for you and vFairs in that three-year interims?

Muhammad:  23:03
The way success would look like for us is that, see if I go back by over a decade you will see that not every company would have a webinar platform, like Zoom or Teams, right? Just because not every company needed that, people can communicate in office, in meeting rooms, et cetera. But as world has become a lot more open and people are all over the world, pretty much every decent company, every big company, every major company would have a Zoom or Teams or a Google Meet, et cetera, right?

You will see that in three years from now, every company will have a virtual event solution license, right? Because if you want to hire talent within your city, within your country, within your state, within the world, you want to have a lot of those virtual events keep ongoing, right? So you will see that will happen in three years and our hope is that we have one of the biggest market share for that particular use case.

William:  24:04
I love it. This was absolutely fantastic. Thank you so much, Muhammad.

Muhammad:  24:10
Thanks William.

William:  24:10
And thanks for everyone for listening to The Use Case podcast, until next time.

The Use Case Podcast

William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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