Virtual experiences are important because they meet people where they are. The best virtual event platforms not only help your company bring an event online, but they help strengthen your brand by tapping into audiences that aren’t local to you.
If there’s been one, clear beneficiary in the past two years (vaccine manufacturers aside) it must be online meeting and event innovators. In 2021, Zoom posted global revenue of $2.65 billion in 2021, more than tripling their income from the previous year.
It’s not hard to see why. Since so many of us have been forced to work or study from home over the last two years, these platforms have become a critical lifeline for both work and education. As in-person events became impossible, people turned to online events platforms to host birthdays, conferences, classes, and other virtual get-togethers. Humans are social animals, and we’ll find ways to communicate even when we’re forced to self-isolate.
The hybrid working model looks like being here to stay, even post-COVID-19. A GitLab study of 3900 remote workers found that one in three of them would quit their job if the remote working option was removed. Of course, to make hybrid working and remote events work, you need a good platform for disparate people in multiple territories to come together.
That’s where today’s rundown comes in — we’ve investigated 21 of the best platforms for online events available. We’re interpreting events as everything from a small group video chat to a full-scale conference. But before we dive in, we need to look a little harder at our criteria.
What should you look for in a virtual event platform?
There is a small but vital list of qualities that a workable virtual events platform must have. Everything else is optional or “nice to have”, bar the following:
- Easy to share and connect across multiple geographic regions.
- As little glitching or lagging as possible.
- Easy controls for muting microphones/raising hands/chat.
- Some equivalent of a “stage” for featured speakers.
- The ability to share presentations and video content.
- The capacity to run multiple livestreams simultaneously.
- The platform should be sensibly and transparently priced.
How much is a virtual event platform?
Regarding that last point, it’s important that you can predict your expenditure per month on a platform and that you don’t receive overinflated, surprise bills. Other than that, how much you’ll pay will very much depend on the features the platform provides.
It can range very widely, from Zoom’s free offering to some large-scale event platforms which will set you back tens of thousands of dollars. If in doubt, always get a concrete quotation from a sales rep, and make sure the platform includes all your must-haves.
21 best virtual event platforms to try in 2023
Here are our top picks for the best virtual event platforms:
- Gather Town
1. Gather Town
- Best for: Fun mingling
- Price: You can pay per hour, week, or month and at the upper end of the scale you can host up to 500 concurrent users for $7 per user per month. A 2-hour one off event costs just $2 per participant (up to 500).
While it won’t suit a serious conference on the future of superconductors, the Gather Town focuses on gamification to create a fun, interactive, attractive, and surprisingly intuitive platform. It takes a Sims-like approach to the now outmoded chatroom concept, by showing conversations as virtual spaces in a game-like world populated by cartoon avatars (which you can design yourself).
As you move around the immersive space you’ve created, various tables, rooms, and break-out spaces appear with vacant chairs you can choose to fill. When you do, the video images of the people in each conversation appear onscreen. You can participate, enter or leave as you see fit.
This system means you can limit spaces for particularly intimate conversations, and the act of walking your avatar between conversations mimics the way we naturally mingle in a social setting. Gather Town would suit a virtual meet and greet, a party or a network of freelancers.
You can collaborate with virtual whiteboards and documents, although this isn’t primarily a formal workspace. It promotes audience engagement over webinars and might look a little juvenile for older users. However, if chance encounters and serendipity are part of your business model, Gather Town might offer the event experience you need.
- Best for: Large conferences and events
- Price: There is a free basic plan for up to 100 participants, a webinar hosting version for $99 per month, and an enterprise plan for larger-scale events.
By contrast with Gather Town, Airmeet’s pitch is very serious. They style themselves “the most customizable hybrid events platform.” The platform can run multiple breakout spaces at the same time, using tables and vacant chairs to limit attendees however you choose. This makes Airmeet an excellent choice for hosting a virtual conference.
Airmeet combines the chat feed of a YouTube livestream with the video windows look of Zoom (but with much glossier design). You can use emoticons as well as text to provide live feedback and arrange the screen as you see fit. There’s an optimized version for smartphones too.
High-end clients using Airmeet include Volvo, Walmart and Accenture and it can host large-scale events including hackathons and trade fairs, with thousands of participants at once. There’s presentation and collaboration support, customizable “booths” and RTMP streaming, with little or no lag for up to 100,000 participants.
Pricing is where Airmeet may hurt, and few price indicators are given, other than a webinar hosting version for up too 100 participants for $99 per month. For larger-scale events, you’ll need to get in touch for a quotation. There is, however, a free basic version on offer.
- Best for: Hosting your own “TEDx” style conference
- Price: Jumbo is aimed at large-scale events and there’s no upfront pricing — get in touch for a demo and quotation.
Events platform Jumbo has a definite presentation focus, centering on a host and guests. It has a smart, clean aesthetic and a speech bubble approach to chat which links comments to speaker photos, so you get a better sense of who’s commenting.
Unusually, they describe themselves not as a platform but as a partner, meaning that they have an in-house team of events coordinators (US and Canada) to help you design the perfect virtual seminar, webinar or conference.
If you want to launch an event empire to rival TEDx, then Jumbo could be the platform for you. It has great features to showcase sponsors and apply differential ticketing to events, so you could make back some of your costs, or run a for-profit event.
- Best for: Being user-friendly and having a good user experience
- Price: The basic Zoom plan is free for up to 100 participants, which rises through several tiers to 1000 for the Enterprise Plus ($250 per year per license). The cheapest paid license costs $155 annually.
Perhaps you’ve heard of this one? Though not yet ten years from launch, Zoom boasts up to 300 million daily participants — that’s right, almost the population of the USA. Despite its massive popularity, Zoom has managed to keep latency levels down to below 150 milliseconds.
Its success may also be partly derived from the fact that you can still host a 40-minute Zoom video chat for free. This act of generosity blew rival Skype out of the videoconferencing waters in early 2020 and made Zoom the household name it is today.
For the few of you unfamiliar with it, Zoom is a simple interface. Users (who don’t need to be pre-registered) are sent a link to a meeting which goes live at an appointed time. Multiple audio-visual feeds are connected, and users can mute or unmute their mics. Zoom detects who’s talking and enlarges their screen. Zoom hosts can elect to have control over participants mics too, so that they can control a session.
- Best for: Onboarding and training
- Price: There are three tiers structured by the number of users per month, but prices are not specified so you’ll have to get in touch for accurate quotes.
Filo is a “collaborative workspace”, combining small videoconference hosting capability with productivity tools including sharable documents and the ability to switch to a one-to-one call. Like other systems listed here, you can design your virtual space to have multiple breakout rooms and auditoria.
Filo integrates and is built on Zoom’s event technology, so it should perform under pressure. It’s particularly good for training and user onboarding, with an event space to hold downloadable documents onscreen while a webinar is in session.
You can build a general networking room with just chat or host a multi-person video event or livestream. Filo’s design is clean and corporate (if a little uninspiring). Unicef, Techstars, and Purdue University are amongst its clients.
- Best for: Creating a virtual channel
- Price: Pricing is nowhere to be seen onsite, but Capterra claims it begins at $7000 per year, and there is no free version.
In stark contrast with Filo’s sobriety, Brandlive’s landing page is a riot of acidic color, with a cartoon TV-creature holding a clapper board. Their USP is making your live events resemble TV shows rather than staid conferences.
Instead of event links, you get schedules; instead of poorly lit bookshelves, speakers can appear in front of professional-looking, green-screened backgrounds. Even the platform’s design echoes the look of popular streaming sites like Netflix. It’s no wonder they have attracted clients like Levi’s, Adidas and GoPro. There’s even a Meta-style, virtual reality with avatars with screens for heads (although this wacky idea is in Beta test).
If you want your meetings and webinars to produce content that can be watched and rewatched, then BrandLive is ideal. For the more camera-shy it may prove a little daunting at first. However, it is anything but boring, and in the world of hybrid work, that can only be a good thing.
- Best for: Simple conference hosting
- Price: Pricing is as opaque as many of these high-end platforms, but Capterra reports individual features priced at around $1000 each. There is, however, a free demo available.
Still aimed at big brands, but considerably more sober than BrandLive is Hubilo, whose users include Coca Cola, Deloitte, and MIT. Hubilo’s focus is on marketing events and trade conferences, and it has facilities for in-person and hybrid events as well as virtual ones.
Like BrandLive, Hubilo boasts a broadcasting studio and support for every kind of corporate get-together from meetings to training sessions and marketing events. There are very few screenshots on their website, unusually, but those I found look like Airmeet — slick and professional. Everything is brandable too.
Hubilo boasts more than a million event attendees in over 100 countries and scores highly with clients for support and ROI. Analytics is a particularly strong feature, with easy-to-read engagement dashboards useful for impressing sponsors.
The clean, corporate feel of Hubilo would suit non-profits and associations as well as prestige corporations.
- Best for: Company branded livestream events
- Price: There is a free version for events with up to 100 participants, and a starter subscription of $99 per month. There are more expensive Growth, Business, and Enterprise plans, unlocking features and allowing more administrators to use the platform simultaneously.
Hopin bills itself as an “all-in-one event management platform” and it has an impressive integration with StreamYard’s virtual studio software, so you can create attractive, branded streams with replay potential.
For multi-person seminars, there are seven pre-set layouts and support for up to ten onscreen participants, which is a little more limiting that Zoom, but looks better onscreen.
A nice feature of Hopin’s site is a link to forthcoming events using its tech, including (at time of writing) the Festival of UX and Design and the Sustainability Solutions Exchange. Event pages are clear and well-designed with speaker profiles, event summaries and easy “add to calendar” links.
There are a wide range of engagement tools and event solutions to make sure your conferences’ live video is able to reach a global audience. With many users reporting a positive attendee experience, it’s no wonder why big brands like Slack, Twitch, and Glassdoor use Hopin.
- Best for: Hybrid event management
- Price: You’ll need to send a query for a quotation, but they are currently offering discounts for event organizers negatively impacted by the pandemic.
Pheedloop has been going since 2015, and has a lot of support for the in-person component of a hybrid event, including badge printing, floorplans, event registration, and touch free check-in. They have supported over 3000 events since inception.
They have a trade / recruitment fair focus, with clients including General Electric, Orange, and several major universities. One great feature is a well-designed mobile app for events, which can be very hit and miss in other providers.
One of Pheedloop’s USPs is their advanced support for sponsors, clients, and other stakeholders, rather than just speakers and event attendees. Calls for abstracts, booth-booking and sponsor branding are amongst the important features they’ve considered.
Pheedloop’s virtual provision is comprehensive too, with concurrent streams, video networking and real-time chat features. There’s support for file-sharing too. They do seem to have thought of practically everything you might want to host or attend a hybrid event.
- Best for: Affordable conferencing at scale
- Price: You can hold a 20-session event with unlimited attendees for just $500 or host unlimited sessions for $5000. Pricing is amongst the most transparent we’ve encountered.
Another self-proclaimed “all-in-one events managements platform”, Accelevents is actively seeking in-person event clients to transition to a hybrid or virtual model.
The platform has a simple livestreaming studio and support for third-party streaming on YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Zoom, and more, great if you’re looking to attract a BIG audience (they can stream to over 100,000 viewers at once).
They have modes for everything from one-to-one chats to what they call “drop-in lounges” where you can host up to 25 people on camera with many more connected on audio. A neat feature is the virtual lobby, which is the equivalent of the orientation desk at a conference.
There are useful analytics including contacts made and one-to-one meetings held, as well as metrics for exhibitors and ticket sales data.
- Best for: Webinars
- Price: Capterra indicates a cost of $1548 per user per year as its starting price, which is rather good value for money if webinar-driven sales is a successful model for your business.
If your business model is webinar-led, On24 offers a slick, high conversion rate platform. Its event schedules resemble the personal feeds of a platform like YouTube or Vimeo, designed to optimize engagement per participant.
Microsoft saw a 7.2% conversion rate from participant to customer and LexisNexis enjoyed an 81% increase in revenue using the platform; those are impressive figures. The platform is ranked #1 on G2 for Webinar software.
Webinar pages are heavily brandable, so it’ll look like you’ve created your own streaming platform. As well as webinars there are videoconferencing features and support for one-to-ones with hosts. However, this is very much a webinar-driven platform.
- Best for: Event planning and coordination for enterprises
- Price: You’ll need to contact them for pricing.
Another event management platform for hybrid and virtual events alike, Whova offers all the features you might expect including networking portals, seminars, and sponsor/exhibitor support. They aim to ease the process of coordinating and managing an event, claiming a time saving of up to 60%.
One area where this platform scores highly is its engagement features which include targeted event announcements, surveys, Q&A support, and exclusive event invitations. They boast one of the most prestigious client lists around including American Express, Ikea, Lego and HBO.
Whova’s site includes some impressive cast studies, including the UN World Data Forum which generated more than 18,000 attendee profile views and over 400 photos shared on social media. Their event app is one of the best and is often highlighted in visitor reviews as a great networking feature.
With such high-end clients and a large event focus, it’s no surprise that you’ll need to contact them for a quotation, but user reviews are largely extremely positive and stress the completeness of the product offering.
- Best for: B2B sales
- Price: Pricing is tiered under Express (for one-off events) and Anywhere (for banded platform building) but specifics are not given. Sourceforge suggests monthly charges begin at $290 per month.
No, this isn’t a weightlifting app, but a “B2B Event Marketing Platform.” Recognizing that hybrid and online events suit B2B sales better than any other type of client, Spotme focuses on giving businesses the tools to contact with their clients.
They have in-house experts to help you build your event, and the all-important mobile app that accompanies it. Spotme builds out from the all-important seminar, with video breakout rooms and one-to-one bookable sessions. There are neat details like virtual applause and spot quizzes (which could be useful for training sessions).
There are great tools to connect attendees, which should help with follow-ups and sales conversions. There are YouTube-styled metrics for engagement, watch time and more. Given its B2B focus, there are useful integrations including Mailchimp, Stripe, and Zapier.
Resources and support score highly, and there are even templates set up to help you create an optimized event.
- Best for: Large event marketing
- Price: The basic version is $12,500 annually and the Pro version will cost you $21,500.
This platform is a little different, because it has a focus on marketing your event, recognizing that half the battle is securing the attendees, speakers, sponsors, and exhibitors. The platform focuses on helping you brand your event platform in a way that extends to a mobile app, social media, email, and other marketing channels.
Rather like a web design platform, Splash provides readymade templates you can tweak to suit your use case, and they’ll automatically generate variants for different marketing channels. There are guest management tools and metrics for impact and conversion.
Clients include Sharp, Expedia Group and ThoughtSpot. Splash’s templates are beautiful and highly varied, and they include a raft of tools for building smart guest lists, soliciting attendees, and creating effective registration forms.
Fittingly for a sales-orientated platform, there are lots of useful marketing integrations including Marketo, Hubspot, and Salesforce. Splash scores extra points for price transparency but you may need to sit down before reading their rates. However, if you’re marketing a large event, this might not seem like an unmanageable outlay for marketing.
- Best for: Technology
- Price: You’ll need to contact them for pricing.
Another self-described all-in-one platform for both in-person, hybrid and virtual events, Socio stresses their completeness, covering everything from registration and ticketing to post-event outreach. More so than some other platforms, they leverage up-to-the-minute technology including Q-codes for check-in, a fully optimized mobile version based on simple icons and virtual attendance via users’ phones.
Socio is one of the best-designed and thought-out platforms, which aims to help you build communities around your content. Therefore, attendees don’t vanish after they engage with your event – they stay in touch with contacts they have made on the platform.
Socio’s clients are very wide-ranging, including major brands (Hewlett Packard) and non-profit or industry events (Lupus Foundation and MAD//Fest). One quibble — livestreaming and video hosting are add-ons to the main offering, which could significantly increase your costs.
- Best for: Brand-building webinars
- Price: Pricing is good value — $199 per user per year for a basic subscription or $499 annually for the full bells and whistles.
Combining a sales-led platform with a focus in webinar creation, Tame would be a great platform to join the burgeoning industry in skill-sharing and personal development.
Tame is great at getting you up and running quickly, with a straightforward interface and a Zoom-like appearance for its webinars. With live Q&A, polling and integrations to sales platforms, attendee engagement can be monetized without aggressive targeting.
Engagement metrics will help you shape your future content. Tame’s templates are based upon what your chief aim is, whether that’s community building, brand awareness or customer retention, to name but three. It’s undeniable that webinars are proving more and more popular, both with a brand’s content-hungry customers and clients seeking high-impact engagement.
To this end, Tame has templates which suit lead-conversion webinars, evergreen content for replaying and livestreams.
- Best for: Trade shows and expos
- Price: You’ll need to contact VFairs for a personalized quote but expect to pay a premium for this professional events product.
VFairs delivers glitz at scale for high attendance events, across the full spectrum from in-person to fully virtual. Their stats speak for themselves — more than 48 million attendees, more than 50,000 exhibitors and in-person events in over 50 countries.
If you’re running an industry-wide trade fair, this could be the platform for you. From university open days to recruitment drives, the focus is on attendance at scale and creating conversions. 3D environments mimic such trade fair staples as the lobby, main auditorium, networking event and the mandatory mobile app.
The 3D environments and support prove popular with clients, helping VFairs win a remarkable 19 awards from G2. They have over 1000 5-star reviews from clients including Sage, Merck and Randstad.
- Best for: Large corporate events
- Price: For pricing, you’ll have to contact a member of their sales team.
With clients including Airbus, Dell, and Amazon, this is another high-end, hybrid and in-person solution. All the usual sponsor and attendee attracting features are present and correct, with some clever add-ons such as automated matchmaking, to help attendees connect.
There are useful scheduling, invitation and registration features, tools for marketing and, of course, all the video seminar and webinar options you could ask for. Integrations with Saleforce, Marketo, Hubspot and Google Analytics make this a strong contender for ROI too.
Aventri goes deep into the analytics, with detailed information on engagement and attendee behavior you can pass on to your sponsors or use to improve future content. There’s also support for large-scale employee meetings such as AGMs. Aventri’s Professional Services Team is on hand to provide support.
Unusual features we spotted include venue sourcing, project collaboration and budgeting. This really is an all-in-one platform.
- Best for: Hybrid events
- Price: You’ll have to contact their sales team.
Tellingly, Cvent describes itself as an engagement platform. Usefully its divided into three trademarked strands — Attendee Hub, Cvent Studio and Event Management Portal. This allows Cvent users to focus on their slice of event organization, be it registrations, content production, or overall event coordination.
There’s a strong focus on in-person events, including facilities for hospitality providers to think through all aspects of an event. For instance, Cvent provide a supplier network of more than 280,00 venues worldwide, which could save you a lot of legwork.
Cvent’s virtual event platform offers most of the features of more virtual-specific platforms, and they quote some impressive engagement stats — client EATA saw a 40% increase in registrations and tripled their revenue. There are some straightforward and colorful dashboards to analyze enrollment and attendance too.
- Best for: Mobile hybrid attendance
- Price: Pricing is surprisingly affordable — the webinar and video software starts at $99 a month, going up to $499 for the elite offering. You’ll pay more if want an Enterprise version or the full virtual event suite — contact sales for details.
BigMarker claims to be the “#1 platform for webinars, virtual and hybrid events” which, given the competition we’ve demonstrated in this rundown, is a bold claim. With Ted, CNBC and Samsung as clients, it might well prove a justified one.
They aim to be completist, supplying the tools for everything from a short one-off seminar to large scale hybrid events. Their production studio is one of the more sophisticated with multiple formats, camera sizes, captioning and onscreen slugs and logos.
Their hybrid approach includes virtual attendance on mobile devices and tablets as a fully integrated part of the event (and one that allows for large scale attendance and conversion). For in-person components there’s badge making and Q-code scanning features.
Virtual mobile booths offer greater presence for sponsors. Overall, the mobile functionality is amongst the best on offer. They also offer a “media hub” to host your presentation and webinar content for future use. You could use it to create a valuable brand resource, or training site.
- Best for: Content-driven conversions
- Price: Pricing is straightforward, starting at $1000 per month for the webinar version, $2000 monthly for the Premier tier and bespoke Enterprise pricing.
Heading their landing page with “the future of event marketing” makes clear Goldcast’s ambition. If you need your content to provably drive conversions, then it could prove the best choice. Goldcast have a lot of technology and B2B clients including GitHub, Toast, and Bolt. Certainly, it’s one of the best-looking platforms, taking a similar broadcast-mimicking approach to BrandLive.
Sophisticated chat and audience inclusion features complement a webinar-led strategy, with event content branded and so polished that it becomes an ongoing resource library. Goldcast is strong on community-building, meaning your attendees effectively sell to one another.
As you might expect, there are a great many sales integrations including HubSpot, Marketo and Salesforce. One-click buttons take attendees directly to the content they seek, and UX is particularly strong. Best of all, it’s truly “device agnostic”, working well on any computer, smartphone, or tablet.
What is the best platform for a virtual event?
If you’ve read this far, you might be exhausted by the wealth of options available for event management software. We don’t blame you — there have been a proliferation of excellent virtual and hybrid event platforms in the last five years.
Here are the three that are widely popular among event planners:
- Zoom: The perennial favorite is simple, accessible, and incredibly good value.
- Hopin: Partnering with StreamYard delivers top-level livestreaming ability.
- Gather Town: It’s just so much fun, and gamifying networking is a clever innovation.
We hope our rundown of the top 21 platforms for event management and hosting has proven useful. Let us know if there’s one we’ve overlooked!
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