As you also might expect, there are a lot of virtual events solutions available now, and diving in is sometimes a little overwhelming. Kaltura is a leader in the virtual event platform space, and in addition to making our case, we’d like to provide some insight to both our users and the public alike so everyone is better equipped to understand how to make the most of virtual events, and how individual users or organizations can determine what solutions will work best.
We’re going to make a few picks here while avoiding ranking them in “listicle”-style “Top 5!” order—frankly, there are a lot of apps and platforms available, and usefulness will vary widely by a particular event’s needs. Instead, we’re going to point out a few outstanding use cases and let the reader compare and contrast. Head on below for a closer look at the ins and outs of the virtual event platform!
- What is a Virtual Event Platform?
- Choosing the Right Virtual Event Platform for your Needs
- 5 “Best Virtual Event Platform” Picks for 2022-2023
- More about Kaltura Virtual Event Platform
What is a Virtual Event Platform?
At this point, we all probably have a mental picture of what a virtual event platform is and does, however both for specificity and for those just catching up to the virtual event space, here’s a definition:
A virtual event platform is, on the technical side, the app software and technology infrastructure enabling the delivery of virtual or hybrid events, frequently packaged via cloud computing as “software as a service” (SaaS) or “platform as a service” (PaaS).
In less jargony terms, it’s both the tool your business or organization uses to plan, promote, and put on virtual events, and also a means of emulating the best features of live events. The key feature of a virtual event platform is providing a “space” for people to connect while also being able to increase audience engagement. A great virtual event platform allows you to recreate the atmosphere of live events, and at the same time allows people to join your event from anywhere in the world. You can expand your audience, open up attendance for people who would have obstacles to coming in person (expensive travel, accessibility, etc.), get people engaged with your organization or brand, and provide value in the form of content, all with the same tool.
While common video conferencing/virtual calling tools may be a go-to for impromptu or casual events, they usually can’t go large scale or create an immersive environment. Some key features to merit moving to a virtual event platform include:
- Live-streaming Take your event beyond talking heads and cover real action! A virtual event platform with great live-streaming service is designed for high-quality viewing. That’s not just limited to a keynote talk in HD, it might accommodate anything up to and including performances, concerts, or even sports events. Often there will also be an option to record the stream for on-demand viewing after the event ends.
- Scaling It’s hard to engage more than a handful of people at a time with a video conferencing tool—virtual event platforms can facilitate an intimate vibe for small groups, but most are also designed for scaling up to a large audience.
- Separate Spaces Without more than one space, you’re still basically stuck in a multi-person video call. A virtual event platform allows for various such as simultaneous events or workshops, breakout rooms, virtual lounges for networking, and various other ways to facilitate two-way and face-to-face conversations between small to large groups of attendees.
- Engagement More than anything else, virtual events platforms take engagement into account and can offer ways to keep your attendees active with gamification, polling, workshops, and more.
- Support Some virtual event platforms can also provide additional support services—advanced tech support; admin help such as event planning, registration, and ticketing; creative support; facilitation and moderation of workshops and chats; and other valuable assistance that enables you to keep your focus on your content.
Choosing the Right Virtual Event Platform for Your Needs
When selecting a virtual event platform, as we’ve brought up in other posts on selecting technology, the “right” solution is always relative to the job at hand. With that said, here are the main factors (at least in our opinion) to consider when shopping around for a virtual event platform.
We’ve mentioned before that it’s best practice to not assume your guests will automatically know how your web tools work. The best tools for the job won’t create additional barriers, either for your event attendees or for your team. Make sure you evaluate any potential virtual event platform for user-friendliness, how well it works across different devices (and possibly mobile), that it has the features you need, and that it can integrate with any technology your business or organization is already using. Also, know your audience—a system that might not cause friction for a highly technical event crowd (programmers, IT pros, etc.) could flop with a different group of less tech-savvy guests—at the end of the day, no one wants to deal with a frustrating platform.
Is it a “big event” or a “small event”? In between? Look for the tool that fits the event. Smaller events can benefit from a less formal, more intimate feel and don’t require the capacity of an event aimed at thousands. Platforms designed for a large audience could be overkill at best, too impersonal at worst. On the other hand, if you DO need to reach thousands, you’ll need a virtual event platform built to do just that—or at least designed with scaling to a large audience in mind. Running into connection problems “on the day” is fatal to reaching your audience, so make sure you’ll have plenty of bandwidth.
Remember that you want to create a unique experience for your guests, and the best way to do that is being able to customize how your virtual spaces look and feel with color, branding, images, and audio and video content. You’re shooting for immersion, not a bland conference call atmosphere. Additionally, customized spaces will be attractive to sponsors and exhibitors, giving them options to stand out and make their mark.
Of course, pocketbook concerns are part of your bottom line, so when planning an event and seeking out tech options make sure you’ve already worked out budget parameters. Virtual event platform technology prices run a wide range and can be as small or as large as the events are themselves. In many cases, there’ll be an upfront fee: either an initial purchase, a monthly subscription, or some combination. It could go anywhere from a few dollars per attendee to thousands per year. Also, keep in mind the size of your event, and how much support you’ll need from your provider. It’s always smart to look for a demo, tour, or trial to evaluate the platform and its features before putting down cash!
5 “Best Virtual Event Platform” Picks for 2022-2023
To get the wheels turning, here are a few platforms we think stand out in a crowded field. We’re not going to make a definitive, ranked value judgment, but we think these platforms have something going for them, anywhere from “whole package” excellence to clean functionality, great emphasis on engagement, or just a novel approach to socializing online.
Best All-Around Virtual Event Platform: Kaltura Virtual Events
Kaltura is built with a foundation of high-quality live, real-time, and on-demand video streaming. In addition to our top-tier video platform, we also include engagement opportunities such as chat and networking functionality, audience segmentation, and other interactive features. Our mission is to support unique events at scale and allow our customers’ creativity to take front and center. That means any event, any size: multi-day or multi-track, live keynotes, webinars, lectures, workshops, or 1:1 chat.
At scale, we’ve got one of the best all-around virtual event platforms available. But don’t just take it from us, feel free to try a demo and find out for yourself.
We’re also happy to give credit where credit is due—continue below for an overview of some platforms that are doing good work in their niche.
Platform Pick for Virtual Event Management: Bizzabo
Bizzabo bills itself as an “event success platform”—an all-in-one that’s designed to be equally effective with enabling in-person, virtual, and hybrid events. This means every step on an event lifecycle: ticketing, setup, registration, custom event websites, and built-in capabilities for integrating with CRM as well as providing custom reporting. The platform is very much geared towards enterprise-level, B2B marketing events planning for an organization with a lot of events on the slate, and as such brings an equivalent price tag. However, Bizzabo gets high marks for its deployment of personalized engagement features as well as for strong support, and many users have applauded it as a simple and intuitive platform.
Platform Pick for Virtual Conferencing: Hopin
Hopin is a solid choice for connection-focused conferences but is nonetheless able to scale to virtual events of up to 100,000 guests. It offers a comprehensive set of features for managing and hosting events: guests can network over live video, exchange virtual business cards, and join breakouts, as well as participating in speed networking through a feature designed for larger trade shows and conferences. Video tools additionally allow attendees to watch stage-based keynote presentations and explore interactive expo areas. Hopin is particularly well catered to passive guests, giving them the ability to watch talks and sessions anonymously if they wish, but also make themselves visible for group interactions when they choose. Overall, it’s a quality tool for conferences, particularly when the person-to-person connection is a point of focus, although potential adopters should also make sure the monthly subscription plans fit within the budget.
Platform Pick for training events: ON24
ON24, the “digital experience platform” can do a variety of things, but it does webinars notably well. ON24 is most helpful overall for mid-to-large-sized businesses or organizations with small events teams who tend to produce a lot of webinars—the platform is noted for being well-documented and makes it simple to template and update specific webinars. Additionally, ON24 is well set up on the back end to record presentations and audio in-system without the need to time slides, etc. It’s also equipped with continuing education credit features, making it highly useful for courses and training. However, take note it’s somewhat limited for events with audience interaction, and while generally user-friendly can sometimes be a bit much for your less technically savvy attendees.
Platform Pick for Interactive Events: Airmeet
Airmeet’s goal is to create a more audience-focused virtual event platform. This cloud-based online event solution seeks to facilitate engagement-driven, immersive events with strong interactivity for all participants. To that effect, it employs features such as a dedicated networking lounge with “tables” and “chairs” as well as providing a listing of people on the platform so guests can reach out to one another outside sessions. Airmeet looks to simulate the in-person event experience, providing intuitive navigation and maximum possibilities for interactions. A free version is available, suitable for smaller teams and try-outs, although its feature-rich version is geared toward at-least-midsize businesses and organizations.
More About Kaltura Virtual Event Platform
As a parting note, Kaltura would be excited to be your solution of choice. We can keep you on the cutting-edge of the virtual event space with Kaltura Virtual Events, our innovative virtual event platform. Whatever virtual events or community experiences your business or organization wants to provide over the coming year, our platform is a contender.
We noted above that the foundation of our service is high-quality streaming: fast-loading players based that are on adaptive bit rate (ABR) technology and 1080p video. Kaltura Virtual Events is also a virtual event platform designed to be customized and scale easily while keeping focused on your brand, your community, and the experience you’re creating. As well as best-in-class video delivery, we take pride in engagement features, and in providing outstanding design and user experience. To that end, we offer advanced look and feel options allowing you to showcase your brand with a wide range of choices. Our goal is to enable you to create a destination that’s personalized both for your brand and your guests.
Above and beyond the event guests’ experience, we also provide a framework for integration with remote conferencing clients, marketing automation platforms, and analytics tools. Supporting our high-quality video is an enterprise-grade video content management platform for ingesting, managing, publishing, distributing, and analyzing media content. We’re modular, fully customizable, and complemented by a range of video technology available to individualize your experience and provide native support for all sizes and types of events. Before and during the event we also provide first-class support including white glove production services, moderation, and 24/7 technical support.
Lastly, we love data, and we want to share the love with you—our engagement features were created to facilitate data gathering and user insight. Capture all actions, interactions, and quality of service to learn more about your audience, evaluate your content, and turn it all into actionable insights that you can implement in real-time. Deep, detailed data and analytics also give you a clear picture of your event’s performance on the day, as well as further down the line to follow its “long tail” relevance.
You can sign up for a tour or demo here!