How to Choose a Virtual Event Platform (and 6 Options to Consider)
Much of our day-to-day life — both personal and professional — has been transitioning to the digital world. Virtual event platforms are just one example of taking in-person experiences online.
There are plenty of software options. You have digital communication tools and webinar platforms — like Zoom, Slack, and WebEx — but these aren’t great options for online events.
Then you have full-scale virtual conferencing and trade show tools. Sure, they might work for a large event (at a steep cost), but what if you only want to host a handful of people?
Let’s walk through some virtual event platforms you can choose from. We’ll go over which features to look for and how different options compare.
Common Engagement Tools
The best virtual event platforms engage attendees. Unlike physical events, attendees can log off virtual events whenever they get bored or distracted.
One of your biggest jobs is to keep them interested. Virtual event platforms give you plenty of ways to connect with attendees and keep them tuned in. Here are a few features to look for:
Video Conferencing and Messaging
Virtual event platforms let attendees chat in forums or one-on-one. This helps people stay engaged in Q-and-A sessions, chat rooms, and workshops.
You can ask attendees questions like “What’s your biggest takeaway from this keynote speech?” or “Which development roadblocks hold your team back?” Audience polls can help people interact with your event and also give you key information for future events.
It doesn’t have to be all business 24/7. Attendees can unwind, network, and have relaxed conversations with interactive games. Scavenger hunts, trivia questions, and leaderboards can liven up your event experience.
Gather integrates games like Tetris and Draw Battle!, so attendees can play without even leaving the platform.
Some platforms let you live stream a virtual event on social media channels like YouTube or Facebook in real-time. This can help attract attendees.
Customizable event spaces give a personal touch. Look for platforms that let you create personalized layouts for your virtual venue. Include areas like virtual booths, exhibit halls, and breakout rooms.
Customization also comes in handy when you want to brand the event with logos, banners, or digital handouts.
6 Virtual Event Platforms
When the time comes to host your virtual event, you’ll need to choose the right platform. Here are six options and their prices:
Accelevents launched as a way to simplify event planning for charity events. The virtual event platform includes a dashboard that lets you move between areas like the lobby, main stage, and expo areas where exhibitors have branded booths.
The platform focuses on giving you a high return on investment for your events. It prioritizes attendee engagement, creating high-quality leads, and increasing revenue for organizers and sponsors.
Accelevents offers an activity feed where people can like posts and leave comments, a leaderboard for interactive challenges, and notification bubbles when speakers are live or exhibitors are free to chat.
Pricing: $500+ per event
Cvent offers primarily in-person events and hybrid events but has grown to also deliver virtual event options. It comes with a mobile app.
With Cvent, you can capture real-time event data and see how your attendees are interacting with your content. It also has 24/7 customer support.
Pricing: Custom quote
Gather’s all-in-one immersive event platform is unlike the rest. Users can walk around and interact with others in a fun, 8-bit environment — almost as if it were the real world.
Users can video chat by standing next to other attendees or entering a presentation space.
With Gather, organizers can customize the layout of their event. This way, they can create different spaces, like an auditorium, poster sessions, networking rooms, or breakout session rooms. It even has interactive objects, like custom signage, games, whiteboards, and embedded web content.
Pricing: Free for up to 25 users; paid plans start at $1 per additional user
Hopin gives organizers a well-rounded set of tools to create content for their events. It lets you customize video streams, build event websites, and add a personal touch.
You can customize the event interface and website landing page with an easy-to-use design tool. You can also polish your video content with their editing software.
The platform’s functionality is relatively straightforward, so attendees can easily navigate event content.
Pricing: Starts at $83.25 per month
SpotMe gives you pre-built templates to help you design your navigation and content layout.
In the live activity and event feed, attendees can see what others are doing and stay updated with event notifications.
SpotMe integrates chatbot features, which most platforms don’t offer. A chatbot can help get guest feedback and provide customer support.
Pricing: Starts at $24,000 per year
What Sets Gather Apart?
Now that you’ve read about some popular virtual event platforms, let’s look at how Gather stacks up. Here’s why Gather is a great choice for your next event:
Users Can Have Organic Conversations
Gather gives attendees the opportunity to “walk” around and bump into new people or old acquaintances. Just place your avatar near another user to start a video call.
Just like at a live event, there are times when you’re too busy to talk. Gather lets you walk into private spaces to take a break, chat with a smaller group, or focus on work.
It’s a Fun and Interactive Event Platform
Gather’s layout and style makes event spaces unlike any other. The interactive design makes you feel like you’re walking around an 8-bit video game from the ’80s.
Most virtual event platforms just give you a static dashboard where users click through tabs to go different places. It’s not as immersive as a 2-D world where you can see other people’s avatars.
It’s a Versatile Option for All Types of Events
With Gather, you can host all sorts of virtual events, like big gatherings, small get-togethers, professional meetups, or casual happy hours.
Here are some popular ways people have used the Gather platform:
- Remote teams: Fully remote companies can create events for team building, happy hours, casual lunches, or working next to each other.
- Virtual conferences/virtual trade shows: Event organizers can create spaces for vendor booths, poster sessions, networking opportunities, and keynote speeches.
- Social events: Anyone can host a casual event to connect friends and family, like birthday parties, game nights, or weddings.
- Universities: Students and educators can have online lectures, study halls, or office hours.
Most virtual event platforms have hefty price tags. But Gather lets users create a free event space for up to 25 users.
The paid version of the platform starts at $1 per user past 25 attendees. There are also standard plans that allow for up to 500 attendees. Some plans come with more event management options, like controlling the chat and screenshares. You can find more information on Gather’s pricing page.
How Will You Host Your Virtual Event?
Virtual event platforms let you tap into a global audience and connect in ways that aren’t possible with in-person events.
Decide what you need from your virtual event platform and how much you’re willing to spend. You can start now by testing out Gather’s free version.