How to Host a Virtual Benefits Fair: A Step-by-Step Guide

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The common question we get is how to host a virtual benefits fair? For HR managers tasked with communicating with a remote or hybrid workforce, the concept of a virtual benefits fair is catching on like wildfire. Imagine hosting an event where your employees, scattered across different time zones, can engage, learn, and interact with benefits providers without stepping out of their living room. The shift towards virtual HR events is not just a trend; it’s a revolution in how we think about employee engagement and benefits education. Gone are the days of crowded conference rooms and stacks of brochures. Welcome to the era of convenience, accessibility, and innovation.

Why should you jump on this bandwagon, you ask? Picture this: An online platform buzzing with activity, where every click brings your team closer to understanding the plethora of benefits your company offers. This isn’t just about keeping up with the times; it’s about leveraging technology to enhance the employee’s experience. I’ll walk you through the ins and outs of hosting a successful virtual benefits fair. Whether you’re a seasoned HR professional or a business leader looking to pivot to digital formats, this guide is your ticket to a seamless transition. Buckle up, and let’s dive into the world of virtual benefits fairs, where engagement and education meet in a dynamic, digital environment.

 How to Host a Virtual benefits fair step-by-step guide

Benefits of Hosting a Virtual Benefits Fair

Employee education is one of the critical areas of benefits that can often perplex HR teams. A recent Aflac study reveals that 50% of staff dedicate a mere 30 minutes or less to choosing their benefits annually during the enrollment window. Consequently, businesses face the challenge of swiftly imparting essential knowledge to their teams, ensuring they possess the necessary details to make informed decisions about their benefits confidently.

Hosting a virtual benefits fair brings a myriad of advantages. Let’s delve into the key benefits:

  • Increased Reach for Remote Employees: Virtual fairs break down geographical barriers, making it possible for employees, regardless of their location, to participate. This inclusivity ensures that remote and distributed teams have equal access to valuable benefits information.

Pro Tip: Invite spouses to join the event also to learn about health, financial, and wellness plans.

  • Accessibility Around the Clock: Unlike traditional fairs with set hours, virtual benefits fairs can offer 24/7 accessibility. This flexibility allows employees to engage with the content and resources at their convenience, catering to different schedules and time zones.
  • Lower Costs: By moving online, organizations can save on the significant costs associated with physical events, such as venue hire, catering, and travel expenses for both organizers and attendees.
  • Enhanced Tracking and Analytics: Virtual platforms come equipped with tools to monitor engagement metrics, such as booth visits, webinar attendance, and resource downloads. These insights can inform future HR strategies and help measure the fair’s success.
  • Environmental Friendliness: Virtual fairs are a greener alternative, eliminating the need for printed materials and reducing the carbon footprint associated with travel and venue use.
  • Interactive and Engaging Formats: The digital format allows for creative and interactive elements, such as gamification, live chats, and Q&A sessions. These features can enhance the engagement and overall experience for attendees.
  • Ease of Updating Information: Digital platforms make it easy to update or add new information and resources, ensuring that employees always have access to the latest benefits content.
  • Opportunities for Personalized Experiences: Virtual fairs can offer personalized pathways for attendees based on their interests or benefits needs, making the experience more relevant and engaging for each individual. For example, Sony has four different business units each with different benefits. Instead of hosting four different events, the HR team took advantage of our role-based access feature so that employees only see and have access to booths and content that applies to their position and business unit. This helped streamline the delivery of information for the HR team.

Steps to Host a Virtual Benefits Fair

Let’s demystify the process with a comprehensive roadmap from the initial planning phase to post-event follow-up.

1. Pre-planning: Identifying Goals and Objectives

Before diving into the digital deep end, take a step back to outline what you aim to achieve with your virtual benefits fair. Is it to increase awareness about new employee benefits? Or perhaps to boost engagement among remote workers? Setting clear, measurable goals at the outset will guide your planning process and help tailor the event to meet your organization’s unique needs. Remember, a well-defined roadmap is your best friend in the pre-planning phase, so sketch out a detailed timeline, marking key milestones to keep everything on track.

2. Choosing the Right Virtual Benefits Fair Platform

Selecting a virtual benefits fair platform is like choosing the venue for an in-person event—it sets the stage for your entire fair. Look for a platform that is not only user-friendly but also offers features tailored to virtual HR events, such as virtual booths, chat functionality, and webinar capabilities. Security, scalability, and customization options are also crucial factors. Consider platforms that allow you to mirror your company’s brand and culture, making the virtual space feel like home for your employees. A unique, visually appealing, virtual environment helps generate excitement (buzz) and promote attendance.

3. Decide on Components and Structure

A virtual benefits fair offers a buffet of possibilities when it comes to structure and components. Will you have provider booths where employees can chat live with reps? Are you planning to include a mix of live and on-demand webinars for those who can’t attend in real time? Don’t forget about a resource center for downloadable content and perhaps some gamification elements to keep things engaging. This step is all about creating a dynamic and interactive environment that caters to different learning styles and preferences.

I find that clients most often overlook the power of design to create that wow factor. It also helps get employees excited for the event. Here are my top tips from hosting over 500 virtual benefits fairs:

a) Refresh the look and feel each year vs. using the same virtual room and booth templates.
b) Create a completely custom design: Create a completely custom virtual environment using your actual office lobby or campus.
c) Don’t be afraid to use bold, vibrant colors.
d) Use a theme: Events don’t have to be bland. Spice them up with a theme (beach, movies, era’s). Related article: Virtual Event Theme Ideas
e) Avatars: Another growing trend is incorporating/updating/changing the people cutouts within the virtual environment. Add diverse people with different gender and ethnicity as well as disabled or physically impaired individuals. You can even select from business attire to casual dress. I’ve also seen clients taking pics of their executives with a light-colored background. These “cutouts” can be added to the various rooms and spaces for a personalized feel.

Related Article: Virtual Event Theme Ideas – Events don’t have to be bland. Spice them up and make them memorable with these 9 most popular themes.

Create a “What’s New” Area
Creating a dedicated space to showcase “what’s new” since the last benefits fair is a brilliant strategy. This approach enables employees to effortlessly discover all the recent changes and updates across various vendors in one central location. It is tailored for the upcoming benefits year. By integrating clickable links with each listing, attendees can navigate seamlessly. They can go directly to the vendor’s booth or to specific resources like documents or websites. This streamlines the information discovery process. It also enhances engagement by simplifying how employees explore and interact with the latest benefits offerings. It’s a win-win: employees stay informed and excited about what’s new. Vendors get a spotlight for their latest updates and offerings.

4. Engagement

Engagement is the heartbeat of your virtual benefits fair:

  • Live Chat with Booth Reps: Integrating live chat features allows employees to interact in real-time with benefits providers, ask questions, and gain insights, mimicking the face-to-face interaction of traditional fairs. This direct line of communication not only boosts engagement but also helps in personalizing the experience for each attendee.
  • Leverage gamification: Over the past 22 years, the most effective strategy I’ve seen for boosting attendance and engagement at virtual benefits fairs has been leveraging gamification. For example, Sony integrating activities with wellness points. To attract participants to their event and monitor employee engagement within the virtual setting, the HR team offered incentives for various actions. Employees could accumulate wellness points through active participation, such as visiting booths, attending webinars, and more. These points were then converted into Health Savings Account contributions. Even completing the Benefits Knowledge Check quiz and participating in the Benefits Survey allowed attendees to earn valuable points towards their wellness program. This innovative approach motivated employees to engage more deeply with the virtual environment, leading to increased traffic at vendor booths and enhancing overall event success.

5. Promoting Your Virtual Benefits Fair

If you build it, will they come? Not without the right promotion strategy. Utilize every channel at your disposal to create buzz around your event. From internal newsletters and email blasts to social media shout-outs—make sure your communication is clear, compelling, and conveys the value of attending the fair. Highlight the ease of access, the range of information available, and any special features or guests to look forward to.

Pro tip: Encourage a member of your leadership team to create a brief, engaging promotional video. This video should detail the event’s highlights, instructions for participation, anticipated experiences, and the advantages of attending. It is easier to explain the details of the event and generate excitement through a short video vs. a written email.

6. Execution: Day-of Event Tips

D-day has arrived! Ensure a smooth sail by double-checking the virtual environment for any technical glitches. Confirm that all links work, chat setups are operational, and content is ready to go. Having a technical support team on standby is crucial to address any hiccups promptly. Use broadcast messages to engage attendees throughout the event and keep the energy high with real-time communication channels.

7. Post-Event

The event might be over, but your work isn’t done yet. Collect feedback from participants and exhibitors to gauge the event’s success and areas for improvement. Analyze engagement data to understand what worked and what didn’t, which will be invaluable for planning future events. Lastly, keep the momentum going by providing access to on-demand content, allowing employees to revisit the fair long after it’s concluded.

By following these steps, you’re not just hosting a virtual benefits fair. You’re creating an immersive, engaging experience that educates and connects your workforce with the benefits they deserve. Remember, the key to a successful virtual fair is not just in the technology but in the human touch you bring to the planning and execution stages. Happy hosting!

Case Studies

As we delve into the realm of virtual benefits fairs, the power of case studies becomes unmistakable. These narratives showcase the triumphs and lessons learned by pioneering organizations. They also illuminate the path for others aiming to replicate or surpass those successes. Each case study offers a unique glimpse into the strategies that led to impactful and memorable virtual benefits fairs. They show how to navigate the challenges of engaging a distributed workforce. They also leverage technology to create immersive experiences.


Hosting a virtual benefits fair might seem daunting at first, but with the right planning, tools, and execution, it can be a highly rewarding experience. It’s about bringing the benefits roadshow right to your employees’ fingertips, engaging them in a modern, accessible, and cost-effective way.