What is a Virtual Event Platform?
Virtual event platform is a broad term used to describe an event that takes place online via the web. Some organizes call a simple Zoom webinar a virtual event. On the other hand, real virtual event platforms emulate a traditional in-person event with a custom welcome lobby, theater with sessions and tracks, exhibitor hall with booths or stands, networking area, games/prizes, photo booth, etc.
Last year, with the pandemic, organizers globally quickly pivoted in-person events to virtual events. Attendees were patient as they joined virtual events hosted by a variety of virtual event platforms.
In 2021 attendees have higher expectations for virtual events including highly curated agendas, easy navigation, and appealing design. They also want to feel a sense of belonging, and they want to network and make new connections. Finally, they want to have fun, and perhaps even earn rewards and swag for participating.
What to Look for when Choosing a Virtual Event Platform
The best virtual event platform will depend on the type of event you are hosting and audience features. For example, a virtual career fair event may require different virtual components than a trade show or expo and vice versa.
- Company details: Find out how long the provider has been in business, where are they incorporated, types and levels of insurance they carry, D&B number, D-U-N-I-S number, etc.
- Where the virtual conference platform (what country) is hosted. Also ask details about reliability, scalability (how many concurrent attendees it can handle), data security (protecting attendee information for compliance).
- Customization: Users want an immersive virtual event design. For example, if it is a University event, use images of the campus for the various rooms and spaces.
- Engaging sessions:
- Top notch, well known industry speakers.
- Informative topics and content.
- Clear, high-quality video.
- Speaker engagement: Q&A, polls, surveys, etc.
- Production quality: Think TV and YouTube quality shows with music and graphics vs. a boring Zoom with slides.
- Networking opportunities with other attendees:
- Intentional networking: The ability for attendees to search and connect with other attendees via text and/or video chat.
- Unintentional networking: A platform feature that matches attendees with other like attendees based on profile data and content views.
- Entertainment surprises: E.g., gamification, social media walls, virtual photo booth, magic show, music, tc.
- Support: Find out exactly what set-up support is available. In addition, ask details about the type of support available during the live day(s) for the organizer, attendees, and speakers.
Click here for a 10 point check list for choosing a virtual conference provider.
What Are The Keys To A Successful Virtual Event?
The success of a virtual event will primarily depend the following:
- A thoughtfully curated agenda and interactive user journey
- Ease of use (navigation, etc.)
- Engaging sessions
- Relevant content
- Networking opportunities
Comparison: The 5 Best Virtual Event Platforms
Here are our top 5 picks for the best hybrid event platform (in alphabetical order):
- Communique Conferencing offers an engagement rich virtual event platform. Powered by A.I., the platform delivers Netflix style networking matching and content suggestions based on the users profile and activities during the event. Participants can visit realistic virtual booths, schedule appointments and engage with reps, network with each other, and participate in live or simulated live webinars. The 3D environment is fully customizable to mirror what and attendee would experience at an in-person event. The platform includes audience engagement tools like Q&A, surveys, and polls. The platform scales high to 100,000+ concurrent attendees and is ISO 27001 certified for data security compliance. Finally, the Communique offers a dedicated project manager, Webinar manager and a dedicated live day support team to assist users, presenters and the organizers.
- Intrado is virtual event and video streaming a platform built for enterprise organizations. The platform is customizable, which is important for branding. Intrado includes 12 months of on-demand hosting after the live days. Since setting up a virtual event takes a lot of effort, being able to get value out of the work put in for several months is a great benefit. Finally, there are extensive sponsorship capabilities. Sponsors can customize their virtual event booth and there is live chat functionality.
- B2Match is a great fit for a networking focused conference. The platform also includes built-in ticketing and online payment, and instant chat and messaging.
- Wonder is a virtual networking tool that replicates real world networking with the help of integrated social cues. The technology is geared to recreate a way to bump into others either 1:1 or small groups. Attendees can navigate the space by directing their avatar towards someone to initiate a conversation. If they want to chat, the other attendee does the same — and they can now start a conversation.
- Gamerjibe offers attendees an exciting 3D virtual world to explore. The platform recreates a digital conference space or event hall that attendees can move their own avatar around to explore the environment, approach booths, view videos, etc.
At the onset of COVID-19, audiences were patient in accepting a less than perfect virtual event platform experience. Now, the bar has been raised and expectations are higher, especially for a paid virtual event. For event organizes to achieve a strong ROI on their virtual event platform investment, as well as for clients, partners, and employees to realize their ROI for attending a virtual event, content needs to be creative, there needs to be a production quality to the sessions, it has to be easy to use, and everything needs to look as polished as it possibly can.
When comparing virtual event platforms, make sure to inspect beyond merely features and price. We are all in this brave new world together trying to figure out our roles and help each other along the path to learn and get better. If you need help navigating requirements for a virtual event, please get in touch – we are happy to help.