The virtual event market is booming! More and more platforms are being introduced to the market. It’s like when children enter a candy store: it’s very hard to make a purchasing decision!
Marketers like you and I are asking ourselves: where do we host our virtual events? There are many things to consider when selecting your virtual event hosting platform.
Well, we analyzed the major virtual event hosting platforms to make your purchasing decision a little easier.
First, it must be noted that a clear distinction must be made between small and large virtual events.
Where to host virtual events?
Host your small virtual events on platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Depending on your use case, host your large virtual events (500+ attendees) on platforms such as Eventcube, Intrado, Hopin, ON24, or Bizzabo.
For small virtual events, your hosting decision will be quite easy. The chances are that your company already has an existing license to either Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
However, it gets more complicated with larger virtual events. They all offer different packages and services. Moreover, the costs for large virtual event platforms increase significantly. Especially now that the market is booming.
Now, we already did some research on which platforms are widely adopted amongst marketers.
Let’s dive into the individual platforms so that you can determine which one fits your use case the best. In this article, we will analyze Eventcube, Orbits, Intrado, ON24, Bizzabo, and Hopin.
Let’s start out with a personal favourite, Eventcube.
Launched in 2014 as a competitor to platforms like Eventbrite they provide white label event ticketing and registration solutions for music festivals, university fairs, corporate conferences and more.
Since then Eventcube have gone on to vastly broaden their feature set, including the provision of a whole host of tools for event managers, membership clubs, gyms and more.
The system offers live streaming, virtual networking, ticketing and registration, hosting, live chat and beyond - all of which can be manipulated in one handy, easy access platform. This, alongside Eventcube’s emphasis on white labelling, makes it an extremely attractive tool for event managers across the globe.
Trade shows, conferences, and exhibitions are big business globally and have become vital across all sectors of the economy. Such events offer valuable networking opportunities for businesses with the experience largely focussed on orienting attention towards stands, guest talks, panels, demonstrations, and networking rooms. However, how do you emulate this in the virtual world? This is where Eventcube’s Virtual Venue really shines. Virtual Venue is a virtual events platform specifically designed for conferencing, live broadcast, and interactivity. Designed to reconnect audiences during the pandemic the system can be used to host expos, conferences, and more. With multiple networking rooms, keynote presentations, live streaming and one-to-one messaging the Virtual Venue software allows users to attend from the comfort of their own homes.
Virtual Venue includes features such as:
- Live chat between attendees
- Group networking
- Private 1-to-1 video breakout rooms
- LinkedIn integration
- Private messaging for guests
- Built in event ticketing / memberships platform
- Integrate social media feeds / pre-recorded video / powerpoint presentations
- In-house live stream studios - for production assistance
Looking for a simpler setup? Eventcube also offers an alternative live streaming product designed to help you ticket your streams and make the most of your online events.
Eventcube’s Broadcast product offers self service, stripped back ticketed video streaming built for easy use and maximum results. Set up a store, plug in your stream and host a ticketed virtual event online to a global audience. Encourage audience participation in the live chat widget, conduct polling and elevate your content with custom units and performance schedules.
- Attendee polling
- Custom design
- Ticketed streaming
- Real time chat
Host White Label Virtual Events
One of the key features across all of Eventcube’s products is customisation. Their software is built with adaptability at its core. Showcase your own brand, overlay video calls / livestreams with sponsored content and integrate the whole experience into your own website to create an event that is truly your own and that audiences will remember.
As far as the attendees are concerned, the virtual event experience always feels like it was built by the event hosts for them directly, no sign of any middle man.
Integrate a ticket registration store with ease
As we mentioned before, Eventcube isn’t just a virtual events platform. It’s a fully integrated event management platform. If you’re hosting a virtual event then it’s likely you are going to need some form of ticketing or registration solution to run alongside it. They can help here too. Over many years Eventcube has worked with the likes of concerts, conferences, rodeos, sports events, nightclubs, festivals and beyond to build an innovative ticketing system which really works.
It has a huge number of event ticketing features such as:
- Group buy discounts
- Buy now pay later (pay in installments)
- Ticket sales analytics
- Ticket reps
- Ticket resales
Host Post Event Content and Replays
Perhaps one of Eventcube’s most incentivising features is its post event content hub. Store those special moments from a virtual conference, concert or live stream online in a unique access only hub so that attendees can revisit or watch again. Capture attendees that have missed the live event by simply selling tickets to the hub and gate this content behind a paywall. This way your audience never misses out and you can increase post event revenue! Winner!
Add a membership plan
Despite the name, Eventcube isn’t just about events. They also offer an extensive memberships platform having worked with sports clubs, gyms and more to keep track of a retained audience and keep them in the loop about upcoming events.
You can offer both free and paid plans, exclusive content for members, automated recurring billing, member only events and much more.
Eventcube provides the technology for you to host your own ‘members portal’ where members can view incentives, news and opportunities. All of which is fully whitelabel and ready to be customised to your brand.
Unrivalled Customer Support
We’ve chosen Eventcube as our favourite virtual event platform for a few reasons. The first being customer support. Their friendly team are always on hand to answer any questions and the technical expertise is second to none. This, coupled with the fact that they offer in-house production makes their offering truly unique.
We also love the fact that the product integrates virtual events, ticketing registration and memberships into one well rounded platform with flexible customisation and user experience at its core.
A personal favorite virtual event platform. Let’s be honest here, most of us have probably played The Sims in the past - or maybe still are!
Now, imagine a virtual event platform where you can walk around similarly as to when you’re playing The Sims. Additionally, you’re able to interact with various aspects of the virtual venue such as sponsorship booths or virtual coffee machines that allow you to interact with the in-person audience.
This is exactly what Orbits offers.
I’ve attended and hosted many virtual events over the years and this is one of the only virtual event platforms that I’ve actively recommended to others.
The key to successful virtual events is giving your audience something to remember. We’ve all been in those virtual event platforms that look like an upgraded website. To many audiences, attending a virtual event hosted on Orbits will bring back many memories.
Of course, the platform as displayed in the image looks well, but what about some of the functional requirements that companies need to get the most out of their events.
There are many benefits to sponsoring virtual events, both for the event organizers and companies seeking brand recognition and lead generation opportunities.
Event organizers are tasked with providing sponsorship capabilities in which the sponsors get sufficient returns on their investment. With traditional virtual event platforms, you will see that the traction to the virtual sponsorship booths is minimal, even with gamification.
Orbits simulate a real event venue and they’ve even digitally designed some famous real-life event venues.
The audience is able to walk around the virtual sponsorship booths and then click on a booth. When clicking on the booth the audience will be presented with a few options such as:
- Schedule a 1:1 meeting;
- Talk to a representative;
- Visit the booth and look at resources.
The nice thing about Orbits is that the other attendees will actually see if your booth is busy. You will actually gather a real crowd around your booth. So if you have a solid booth strategy, more people will naturally be curious about why it’s so busy at your booth.
Needless to say that Orbits also provides other sponsorship opportunities such as sponsoring sessions, breakout rooms, and virtual coffee machines!
Virtual stages & breakout sessions
Imagine going to an in-person event. You’re walking to the main stage and you see a bunch of round tables.
You pick a nice table and some other event attendees will join you. The keynote presentation starts and every now and then you discuss what’s being presented with people around your table.
This is exactly what Orbits simulate. On the Orbits platform, you can walk to the main stage, click on a table, and then you are presented with two options:
- Watch the keynote presentation by yourself;
- Join the other people who are sitting at a table.
When you go for option 2, you will join a couple of other event attendees and the setting looks like a Zoom meeting. You will be able to see the other people at your table and you’re able to talk with them using your microphone. This way, you can discuss what’s being presented and it gives you the feeling that you’re attending an in-person event.
Now, if you ask me, this is a really nice feature that makes a virtual event more memorable.
Auxilary events such as tasting sessions
Whenever you attend an in-person tradeshow, there are many other activities in which you can participate.
It’s important to keep your audience entertained throughout the event. Especially during virtual events where there are a lot of distractions and event fatigue.
Similar to in-person events, you can host auxiliary events on the Orbits platform such as wine tasting experiences.
Naturally, this means that you’d have to ship the tasting material to your audience prior to the event.
Your audience can now walk on the Orbits platform to the tasting experience and participate. You’d have an expert ready for the full day so that people can join on multiple occasions.
Having a form of entertainment during your virtual events is key to audience satisfaction. Here are some other audience engagement ideas.
Hybrid event capabilities
We’ve covered the pros and cons of hosting hybrid events. In general, the pros outweigh the cons.
So if you’re looking for a virtual event platform, you’ll need to analyze the hybrid capabilities of the platform.
Orbits does offer hybrid event functionality and depending on your budget, they can actually rebuild the in-person venue digitally. Meaning the virtual event audience will be walking around the same venue as your in-person audience.
One of the most important aspects of running successful hybrid events is your ability to connect the in-person and virtual audience.
On Orbits, you can have coffee stands, as an example, virtually and in-person. This effectively means that your in-person can walk to a coffee stand and there will be a camera and a mic there. Your virtual audience can walk to the same coffee stand and watch the camera and talk to the people who are attending in-person.
This is a really nice feature that helps to facilitate connecting both worlds. Naturally, there are many considerations when it comes to making hybrid events successful. Take a look at this article on how to host successful hybrid events.
My overall experience with Orbits is that it’s something unique in the market that people haven’t experienced yet. It’s an experience that they will be excited about to share with other people.
Considering the countless Zoom meetings that most of us are having, it’s a breath of fresh air.
On a side note, I’ve tried to use some of the cheat codes on Orbits but unfortunately, I didn’t end up leaving the event with unlimited money. Below some additional examples of virtual events hosted on Orbits.
As covered in many articles on Markletic, Zoom is a great virtual event platform for small virtual events. With Zoom, you’re perfectly fine to host virtual events up to an audience size of about 500 people.
If your company is using Zoom as a video conferencing tool, then you no longer pursue your search on where to host small virtual events. You’ve got the answer right at your fingertips.
With Zoom you have two forms of virtual events that you can host, namely:
- Interactive virtual events with open microphones;
- Webinar type virtual events where people have to raise hands to speak.
I’ve hosted virtual events on Zoom with audience sizes ranging from 10 to 150 people.
When the audience size gets a bit larger, you might wonder how that’s manageable. Well, Zoom has breakout rooms functionality. This means that you can assign breakout rooms to people and basically you’re cutting up the full audience into smaller groups.
If you’re looking to host virtual events using Zoom, then have a look at some of my previous articles.
4. Microsoft Teams
Typically your company will only have one video conferencing platform. This can be Zoom, Cisco Webex, or Microsoft Teams. Any of these video conferencing platforms are fine for hosting smaller virtual events.
So if your company has a license for Microsoft Teams then you’ve found your answer on where to host smaller virtual events for your organization.
Similarly to Zoom, Microsoft Teams also has the ability to set up breakout sessions. This will make your audience more manageable.
With Microsoft Teams, you can easily host virtual events up to 100 people. The reason why Zoom can handle more people is that their breakout functionality is a little bit more advanced. This allows for easier event management.
If you’re looking to host virtual events that exceed 100 people, then I recommend setting up parallel sessions or hosting the virtual event multiple times so that everyone can attend.
Now for the fun part! The vendors that we will cover from this point onwards are all for large virtual events (500+ attendees).
This is also where this article will get a little bit more advanced. The below-listed vendors where you can host large virtual events offer a tonne of features. Naturally, many of the features they offer overlap.
The platform that’s right for you will depend on your use case as well as your company size. For each platform, I’ll also provide a list of companies currently using that platform so that you can benchmark.
Intrado is a platform where enterprise organizations can host their virtual events. Almost everything on the event platform is customizable, which is great if branding is important for you!
What’s great about Intrado is that after your virtual event, the platform remains accessible for many months.
This effectively means that you can continue to incorporate your virtual event in your demand generation activities for months after the event. Setting up your virtual event takes a heap of effort, so being able to get value out of the work you put in for many months is a great benefit.
With Intrado, you have extensive sponsorship capabilities. Sponsors can customize their virtual event booth and there is live chat functionality.
When to select Intrado as a platform for your virtual events:
- You need extensive virtual sponsorship capabilities such as booth designs and chat functionality.
- You need an unlimited number of attendees.
- You need the virtual event platform to be available on-demand
- You need real-time reporting
- You need extensive audience engagement capabilities.
- You need video content syndication
- You need the event platform to be mobile responsive
- You need gamification
- You need multilingual support
- You’re an enterprise organization
- Need fully customizable page building functionality
Companies using Intrado
- Amazon Web Services
Below are a few examples of how other companies have configured the virtual event platform of Intrado.
If you’re asking yourself where to host your virtual events but already are familiar with the webinar functionality of ON24, then I have some good news.
Most people will know ON24 for their webinar platform. It’s a webinar platform that’s widely adopted by companies around the world.
ON24 also provides a virtual event platform. The platform works best if the number of live attendees doesn’t exceed 5000 people. For most events, this shouldn’t be an issue.
ON24 gives attendees all the tools they need to network including neat gamification capabilities. The virtual event platform is configurable by a WYSIWYG editor.
Similarly to their webinar, the event platform also allows you to sync data to your marketing automation systems.
ON24 is actively investing in the platform and in the near future the platform will be enriched with features such as support for multiple presenters, more immersive user experience, and they’ll release a mobile app.
When to select ON24 as a platform for your virtual events
- You’re expecting up to 5000 attendees;
- Need gamification
- You need multilingual support
- You need networking capabilities
- You need breakout rooms
- You need extensive sponsorship capabilities.
- You need seamless marketing automation integration
- You need extensive support setting up the virtual event platform and session recordings.
Companies using ON24
Below are a few examples of how companies used the ON24 platform for their virtual events.
Bizzabo is an event platform that you can use for both in-person and virtual events. It’s probably the platform that’s most modern at the time of writing this article.
Sometimes, you will have the need to host a virtual plus in-person event simultaneously. This is also known as a hybrid event. Hybrid events are great for when there are for example travel restrictions from your audience.
If you’re wondering where to host your hybrid events, look no further.
Bizzabo can handle everything from registrations to agenda management, to analytics. It’s one of the most intuitive platforms out there and they have been declared the market leader by G2 Crowd.
When to select Bizzabo as a platform for your virtual events
- You need basic sponsorship and exhibitor capabilities
- You need your audience to be able to send one-on-one messaging
- You need seamless integrations with your CRM or marketing automation tools
- You need to be able to send out push notifications
- You need multi-track agenda’s
- You need unlimited attendees
- You need multilingual support
- You’re a small to medium-size business
- Need basic page building functionality
- You’re going to host a hybrid-event
Companies using Bizzabo
Below is an overview of their full suite of features.
Hopin is an awesome virtual event platform that places extra emphasis on networking. Hopin has got a speed network algorithm that matches people based on their pre-selected parameters.
The power of in-person events is networking and Hopin does a great job at replicating that. You can use Hopin for virtual conferences and you have the ability to fully customize the platform with your branding.
The breakout sessions on Hopin allow for great personal interactions. It feels similar to a Zoom or Microsoft Teams meeting.
When to select Hopin as a platform for your virtual events
- You need extensive networking capabilities including one-to-one meetings;
- You need a virtual stage;
- You need a virtual backstage where organizers and speakers meet before going live.
- You need to host a full-scale virtual event including a stage, breakout sessions, and a sponsorship exhibition hall.
- You need full flexibility in terms of branding
- You need up to 2000 live attendees
Companies using Hopin
- Product Hunt
Below are some impressions of the Hopin platform.
Selecting the right platform for your virtual events can be difficult. Hopefully, this article gave you more insights into where you can host your virtual events.
Understanding where to host your virtual events is the first step. Audience generation is the next important step. Here are the best ways to promote your virtual events.