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Organizing virtual events can be complicated and resource-intensive. Not only do you need to prepare the content but you also need to provide attendees with a stable mode of engagement to retain their interest.
Without the right tools, a virtual event can end up being a disappointment for the attendees and the organizers alike. So, to help you find the right tool, we’ve prepared this guide. Here’s what we’ll cover:
Virtual event software is a tool that enables businesses to create and stream events with live and recorded content. The tool also helps them engage the audience via interactive options such as reactions, comments, and shareable snippets.
Off lately, social media platforms have come up with options such as Facebook Live, YouTube Live, and Instagram Live to host online events, but these are standard tools that might not be apt for every type of event.
First, they don’t allow restricting the audience to a list of attendees or making the event private or paid. Second, they don’t offer the flexibility and interactive capabilities required for industry-specific events such as seminars or conferences.
Dedicated virtual event software, on the other hand, allows users to customize the event as per requirements. It can be used to restrict the audience to registered and paid attendees, create Q&A dashboards and discussion forums, as well as share additional content such as brochures, event books, and research papers with the attendees.
Virtual event tools are typically available in one of the following two deployment models:
Cloud-based deployment: The responsibility of hosting and managing the tool rests with the vendor, and users can access it via a browser or desktop/mobile app. This does not require a heavy investment in IT infrastructure, and users can pick from monthly and yearly subscription plans.
On-premise deployment: The responsibility of hosting and managing the tool rests with the user and the vendor is only responsible for providing the tool for a one-time payment. Most vendors also provide updates for the tool, which may either be free or paid, depending on the user’s license agreement.
Key question to ask a vendor: Are there any add-on equipment or installation costs to use the tool?
Understanding the common features offered by virtual event software can be helpful when evaluating different tools. To help you out, we’ve listed the most common features below:
Event page: Create a branded web page or website for the event, providing details about the event date, star speakers, or any other relevant information. For recurring events, this page can also be a repository of past events and their highlights.
Creating an event website with Aventri
Online registration: Enable attendees to register for the event and make payment for paid events. This feature essentially requires a branded registration form as well as a point-of-sale (POS) option to receive payments.
Online registration with Localist
Video/audio streaming: Stream live or pre-recorded videos and audios. In live events, attendees can view what is happening in real time and playback any parts they missed. In pre-recorded events, videos and audios can be played on demand.
Streaming an event online with BigMarker
Attendee management: Collect and organize attendee information such as name, email address, and location in a single database and use those to personalize communication with them.
Attendee management in A2Z Events
Comments and Q&A: Allow attendees to interact with the speakers/hosts or among themselves with the help of comments and Q&A forums.
Asking questions in an event with GoToWebinar
Survey management: Hold quick surveys with the audience during an ongoing event and ask them to vote on the spot.
Analyzing survey responses with BigMarker
Spaces: Offer virtual spaces such as lobby, exhibit hall, meeting room, and networking lounge. These are essentially forums or web pages within the app that can be customized to encourage attendee engagement.
Virtual spaces created using vFairs
Knowledge base: Share documents such as brochures, event books, and research papers with the attendees. The documents can be restricted to enable view-only or allowed greater flexibility for downloading.
Knowledge base created using vFairs
Email marketing: Send attendees customized and branded emails from within the tool. This is especially useful when sharing tickets or requesting feedback after an event. It can also be used to share information about upcoming events.
Creating email campaigns with Whova
Analytics and reporting: Analyze attendee engagement and response with multiple customizable metrics. While some tools provide this as an online dashboard, others might allow users to download reports.
Reporting in Eventzilla
Key questions to ask a vendor: Does the tool offer customizable templates for creating event web pages, registration forms, or marketing emails? If yes, what customizable elements do the templates support—adding brand colors, logos, taglines, etc?
Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context, and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations, obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.
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