Choosing a virtual event platform

Benefits of virtual events

A virtual event is an event that happens completely online, that attendees can access from wherever they are, providing they have internet access.

Whilst we love live events, we have long been advocates for the virtual event. Virtual events are inherently more sustainable because they have much less waste and lower carbon emissions, from not having to transport your attendees to your event location or heat and power a venue.

Some interesting ideas to consider are:

  • Pre-engagement sessions in advance of the virtual event to build excitement
  • Gamification of event content and leadership boards to increase engagement
  • Virtual chat rooms connected to social networks, such as Linkedin
  • Use digital algorithms to match delegates based on their work and interests
  • Q&A sessions supported by a content library and live links to demo videos
  • Virtual breaks in partnership with catering suppliers to deliver nutritious lunches to the virtual attendees.

We think it is time to embrace this completely new sub sector of events – the virtual event – to enhance rather than replace your events portfolio.

Why we tested

Just as the choice of venue is a crucial decision for a live event, selecting the right platform to host your virtual event can make or break your event.

The sheer number of platforms available to host your virtual event can be overwhelming…that’s why we decided to test all the virtual event platforms so you don’t have to! Here is our verdict. See below if you’d like more details on our testing methodology. Our virtual event management services include platform activation and technology setup. Contact us for a free consultation at hello@legacy-events.com if you’d like us to help you organise your virtual event.

If you are organising a virtual conference

A virtual conference replicates a traditional conference in an online environment. We were looking for a platform that allowed keynote talks from a main stage, panel discussions, breakout rooms and networking.

The verdict

We had a clear winner in this category.

Budget .............................

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Brilliant ........................

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Blow their socks off

Hopin.

Description of platforms that we reviewed
InXpo Intrado

InXpo Intrado is best for large events with high budgets requiring a virtual conference experience with few compromises. InXpo Intrado has robust hosting capabilities and uses hyper-scale cloud providers for its infrastructure to provide highly reliable and resilient performance.

The company uses its own platform for session broadcast and integrates with third-party CRM and registration platforms. It offers 3D virtual environments throughout the platform as well as robust attendee networking options and sponsor benefits, including virtual booths.

Accel Events

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Airmeet

Airmeet is an online meeting and event hosting platform where  participants can connect with other event attendees for one-to-one and one-to-many online interactions. Airmeet aims to recreate a live atmosphere online by offering options such as virtual tables, networking lounges, backstage, stage, claps and audience reactions to participants.

BigBlueButton and MConf

Mconf is an open source web conference system. Mconf is composed of several components, among them are Mconf-Live, a customized version of BigBlueButton that includes several new features, and Mconf-Web, a web portal where people can collaborate asynchronously, schedule and participate in web conferences.

If you have some coding skills and are on a budget, then you might want to take a look at Mconf, an open source web conference system built on top of BigBlueButton.

Mconf.org is a web portal that provides access to free web conferencing. There are no restrictions on who can use Mconf.org: anyone can create an account use it as much as they want to. However, there are no contracts associated with the usage of Mconf.org, so there are no terms of support or any guarantee of quality implied in the usage of the service.

BigBlueButton is packed with features perfect for online learning webinars. During sessions, you can share audio, video, presentations, and your desktop while also collaborating with participants using a whiteboard, shared notes, polls, and chat. You can place participants into group breakout rooms to work on problems together.

Mconf is open-source software, meaning it is free for both personal and commercial use. However, the software must be installed on an Ubuntu Linux server, and its installation and ongoing maintenance requires a strong working knowledge of this operating system.

BlueJeans

BlueJeans is a video conferencing platform founded in 2009 that serves companies for their video conferencing and large scale video meeting needs. Cofounded by a former Apple executive, the company’s original team wanted to make video conferencing “as comfortable and as casual as your pair of jeans.”

BlueJeans has several great features for businesses, including video recording, meeting highlights with task assignment, and up to 20 breakout meetings for collaborating on subtasks. The software was built with security in mind, and administrators will enjoy the deep level of control over participants and features. It is an excellent service for those who just need to meet, whiteboard, and screen share. Its Dolby-powered directional audio experience is unique and gives you a greater feeling of presence.

However, while the image and sound quality is excellent, we found the lag a little longer than many other video conferencing solutions.

Engagez

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Hop In

Hopin was founded in 2019 to improve the virtual events industry whilst helping to reduce carbon emissions, the startup claiming that:

We built Hopin because we want to bring the world together without harming it. Hopin events are sustainable, carbon-neutral, and 100% online, so everybody can come.

Its virtual venues can replicate much of the experience from a physical event, with main stages, backstages, expos, face-to-face networking, group breakout sessions and more.

Inconf.tv

Inconf.tv is a highly customisable solution for online events and broadcasting. What we loved: live subtitles and live translation overlays to make the event accessible in any language, technical assistance to each customer, high attention to digital marketing needs, SEO and lead generation not only for the organiser but for sponsors and exhibitors as well. AWS re:Invent online event was run on inconf.tv.

ON24

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Run The World

Run The World provides templates for fast set up and each event creates a community that remains in place allowing for easy re engagement afterwards.

They take a share of profits for pay to attend events or charge a service fee for free events.

Shindig

Shindig is a video chat platform that hosts up to 1,000 participants simultaneously. Shindig allows you to chat with fellow event participants, ask questions to the main speaker, present to the audience yourself, join groups in video and chat for collaboration, link 1:1 in private sessions, and meet and mingle with new people.

Tame

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UberConference

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Virtual Summit Software

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Vito

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Zoom

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Inside the exhibition tents

Virtual conference platform scores

  • Zoom
  • Hopin
SELCE Solar Roller

If you are organising a virtual trade show

A virtual trade show or exhibition allows exhibitors and visitors to interact online environment, rather than at a physical trade show.

Budget .............................

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Brilliant ........................

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Blow their socks off

Hopin.

Description of platforms that we reviewed
6Connex

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Event Farm

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Hexa Fairs

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Inxpo

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Meetyou

Meetyou is powered by the Ubivent software and ports traditional events to the digital environment with multiple simultaneous live streams, virtual exhibitors booths and opportunities for online interaction between visitors, speakers and exhibitors.

With the virtual event platform, you can organize virtual conferences and trade fairs where visitors can move around like at a real trade fair. In a virtual auditorium, lectures and presentations can be followed and visitors can obtain further information at information stands and make direct contact with the organiser or a representative. The interaction between organizer and audience takes place via video or text chat. In this way, individual questions about trade fair and conference topics can also be answered.

vfairs

vFairs is a virtual events management platform that specialises in delivering virtual career fairs, job fairs, online trade shows and onboarding fairs, that can be customised to the user’s unique needs. The platform encourages event engagement by allowing hosts and exhibitors to use interactive tools like text/audio/video chat, webinars and discussion forums.

Virtual event hall by vFairs

Virtual event hall by vFairs

Pilau Pot

If you are organising a webinar

A webinar is an online seminar that enables presenters to connect with audiences and exchange information. The audience can vary in size from a small staff training to a large-scale TED talk, but the facilitator or host usually remains singular. Webinars are good options for training, sales presentations, executive briefings, and product introductions. We were looking for platforms that excelled in connecting many viewers to one presenter and that allowed Q&A, the ability to present live or a pre-recorded video, and be offered as on-demand after the event.

Budget .............................

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Brilliant ........................

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Blow their socks off

Hopin.

Adobe Connect

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Big Marker

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Click Meeting

ClickMeeting is a browser-based platform for hosting webinars and training sessions. Since the platform is browser-based ClickMeeting works on all devices and operating systems. It also does not require software installation.

Webinars can have a bespoke pre-event engagement, including a waiting room before the start of the presentation where extra information can be offered to attendees.

Polls and surveys can be used to maintain the engagement of those watching, even if the content isn’t live. You can freely mix live events with pre-recorded ones and have segments of both.

For live webinars, a whiteboard can be active during the presentation or afterwards for a Q&A session.

One aspect to ClickMeeting that has enhanced its reputation is that it can be used to monetise webinar content using the platform’s integration with PayPal to manage funds securely.

Easy Webinar

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Ever Webinar

EverWebinar is a sister product to Webinar Jam and heavily focused on selling and specifically using the webinar model to present a sales pitch. It is focused on delivering on-demand webinars that have been finely crafted to deliver the best possible sales pitch and clinch the deal with it.

ezTalks Cloud Meeting

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GoTo Webinar

GoToWebinar is the grandaddy of webinars and for years it was indeed, the go-to solution for webinars.

The features available include pre-webinar processes, real-time analytics, lead management, the sharing of notes on mobile and audience interaction.

All the attendee facing parts can be rebranded, including the registration pages, emails and the web interface. But, this functionality is mostly limited to logos.

Despite some shortcomings, many companies like this tool, even if some think that it needs a revamp on the administration side of the system. And, others have complained that you can have audio or videos issues if you use the web interface and not the dedicated desktop application.

Webinar Jam

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Webinar Ninja

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Whereby

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Zoom

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If you are organising a virtual networking event

A community shuttle bus ran between the nearest railway station and the event all day long, stopping at points along the route to pick up and drop off local attendees.  This was also beneficial in reducing emissions from individual cars travelling to the site.

Deal Room

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Hop In

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Network Tables

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Remo

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Toasty

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If you are organising a webcast

A webcast is a high-quality, polished live video stream of an event or conference.

Bizzabo Virtual Experience

Bizzabo Virtual Experience Solution is a partnership between Bizzabo, an event success platform, and global video technology provider Kaltura. The new solution is designed to enable event marketers to broadcast an event of any size. It features live streaming and on-demand capabilities, networking opportunities and accessibility across devices.

ON24

ON24 has been around since 1998 and major companies like DeloitteIBM, and the Legal Marketing Association use their services. It provides a highly interactive webcasting service that focuses on customizable platforms and information gathering. It has a few quirks, such as only allowing one webcam to run at a time, but the platform itself is very user friendly.

This service can support every level of webcast, from do-it-yourself webcasts using a webcam and slide show to fully managed webcasts, where ON24 prepares, films and moderates for you. ON24 can accommodate both webcam webcasts and live webcasts of your event.

The webcasting room is highly customisable. You can change the template colors and add your logo to brand the room specifically to your company. You also can select from over 30 widgets to add to your room for your attendees to make a fully interactive experience. You can add breakout rooms, chats, a button to share the webcast URL to multiple social media sites and a widget to connect to Salesforce. It’s one of the most versatile webcasting platforms we reviewed.

This webcasting software falls short with a couple of features. For one, it doesn’t allow you to share specific applications. Also, the audio-moderating features are sparse. We found the user interface clunky and hard to navigate at times.

ON24 has an excellent support, with 24/7 phone and chat support, videos, live training and a guide for attendees. Their platform is extremely reliable . However, they build custom versions for your event which comes with a high cost.

Network Tables

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Remo

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Toasty

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Cycle racks

If you are organising a virtual meeting

A community shuttle bus ran between the nearest railway station and the event all day long, stopping at points along the route to pick up and drop off local attendees.  This was also beneficial in reducing emissions from individual cars travelling to the site.

Budget .............................

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Brilliant ........................

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Blow their socks off

Hopin.

Tab 1

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Tab 2

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How did we score the platfoms?

A community shuttle bus ran between the nearest railway station and the event all day long, stopping at points along the route to pick up and drop off local attendees.  This was also beneficial in reducing emissions from individual cars travelling to the site.

  1. Support

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  2. Reliability and Stream Quality

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  3. Engagement Features

    Attending a virtual event should not be the same as watching a long video. It should have features that allow the audience to engage. A live chat should be standard but we were looking for ways to incorporate polls, quizzes so that attendees can interact even in a big crowd.

  4. Ease of Use

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  5. Security

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  6. Commitment to sustainability

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  7. Marketing features

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  8. Price

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Sustainable event management

Legacy - Sustainable Event Management. We help companies run virtual and in-person events that are sustainable.

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