Our guide to the top 5 hybrid event platform options of 2021 helps you find the right platform for hybrid events. Virtual events have never been so popular. However, with easing restrictions, hybrid events might soon be all we do.
“Hybrid everything” has been around for some time. Whether you talk about plants, cars, or databases – hybrid is everywhere. It also appears in events. Now, with the pandemic slowly appearing in our rearview mirror, we opt for safety. Events are for people and we are still looking forward to connecting with peers. Hybrid event platforms seem to be the easiest and safest way forward.
What is a hybrid event platform? And, how do you find one that suits your needs during events? First, we’ll look at the meaning of hybrid in an event context. Then, we’ll review the must-have features for going hybrid. Lastly, we’ll give you the top 7 hybrid event platforms of 2021.
Let’s dive in!
Hybrid events: what is it?
Hybrid events are two-sided. There’s a virtual part and an in-person part. With health restrictions limiting attendance, the in-person part will be rather small. At least at first. There might just be a limited group of attendees with a production team and speaker. The rest of the audience is virtual.
There are tons of advantages to hybrid events. You can mix and match, give the best of both, and deliver something unique.
First and foremost, event spending goes down for both organizers and attendees. Organizers save costs on renting event venues. Attendees don’t have to book hotels and flights. Not only does this reduce cost, but it also allows for an increase in participation. Furthermore, the reduction in the carbon footprint of travel is good for the whole planet!
One area where you might want to spend more is on swag. A carefully curate swag experience can add value. And even create a link between in-person and virtual audiences.
Secondly, with hybrid events, you have two venues. This is an opportunity for sponsors to be in front of two audiences. Wider audience reach is important for them to bring their message across.
Lastly, hybrid events can give you more options to engage your audience. Long sessions can be broken down into break-out sessions. Content can be made available on-demand for the virtual audience. This will keep your audience engaged. It brings them back in the event experience when they tend to lose focus.
Hybrid event platforms: what features to look for?
A few key features guide your attendees through the hybrid event journey. Make sure your platform has the following features to get the most out of your hybrid event.
For starters, you should have the possibility of branding. Whether it is your registration page or your web app, during hybrid events they need to look like one. Ideally, your platform will allow for fully customizable branding, allowing you to handpick the colors, upload your company’s logo, etc.
Your content strategy has to be top of mind when choosing a hybrid event platform. Content should keep your audience engaged, which can sometimes be difficult to achieve when in front of a screen for a long time.
Choose a platform that allows for multiple sources of content, such as live streams, pre-recorded videos, and a live feed where speakers, vendors, and guests can share content and interact with each other.
Make sure your audience knows where to go. Personalized agendas are key during hybrid events. For example, your in-person audience splits into different breakout sessions than your virtual audience.
Sponsorship and Virtual Booths
You should have an eye on sponsors or exhibitors. Will exhibitors with an in-person booth also want a virtual booth? Are they different exhibitors? These are all things you can consider.
It’s helpful to know what attendees participated in certain sessions so you can gain more information on prospective customers.
Find a hybrid event platform that offers a form of attendee tracking. This feature automatically tracks which users attend specific sessions.
This feature works hand-in-hand with other features like surveys. By knowing which users participated in each session, you can then decide to send those people surveys or other targeted messaging.
Analytics and Reporting
To determine a hybrid event’s success it’s important to track user data and create reports based on relevant metrics.
SpotMe, for example, offers tracking for the following reporting features:
- Number of app users and adoption rates
- App user engagement (feed posts, booth scans, notes taken, shared contacts, etc.)
- Number of workspace agenda sessions
- App user devices and operating systems used to access the workspace
- Workspace documents and their sizes
Live Chat and Social Media-Inspired Networking
Networking is often a major reason people attend events, so it’s important to find a hybrid event platform that offers intuitive live chat and messaging features.
Certain platforms, such as SpotMe, are modeled after social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, providing each attendee with a personal profile page. They also offer familiar features like a live feed, commenting on posts, adding friends, watching live-streams, and viewing on-demand content.
Work with the Right Vendor
Find a vendor that can handle your in-person and virtual needs. For example, find technology that can be used across the web and an app. What you’re aiming for is a smooth and seamless experience for your audience. Wherever and however they attend.
Top 7 hybrid meeting platforms
So, hybrid events seem to be the way forward in the new normal. Now it’s time to select the right hybrid event platform tailored to your needs. We’ve reviewed many platforms and came up with the top 7 hybrid event platforms.
Hybrid Event Platform #1) SpotMe
SpotMe brings all your hybrid event needs together. You can create branded experiences across web and app and even live and on-demand. This helps in creating high-quality hybrid events. Through its marketplace and Zapier, you can integrate into CRM and registration platforms. You truly have all the tools to create a complete hybrid event experience.
SpotMe comes with webcasting, video break-out sessions, and personalized agendas. There’s a step-by-step wizard that lets you create a fully branded app. They even allow you to host sponsor information in virtual booths. All combined, it creates the feeling of one event experience.
SpotMe recently added templates. Templates are comparable to the well-known Themes in WordPress. They come with navigation, page layouts, sample designs, and content. You have your event app and virtual web experience up and running in no-time.
When it comes to security, SpotMe goes the extra mile. As a company, it’s SOCII type 2 certified. SpotMe applies security measures in the app as well. Users can go as far as to add a passcode to their event app. The passcode is only securely stored on the user’s device. A great Zoom alternative.
G2 Score: 4.6 (105 reviews)
Hybrid Event Platform #2) Aventri
Aventri, formerly known as eTouches, has brought virtual and hybrid event platforms to the market. It supports all event sizes, from small meetings to 100,000+ conferences.
This hybrid event platform brings both in-person as on-demand content to attendees. It is easy-to-use for event planners and comes with attendee registration features. The most powerful feature in Aventri is probably the way you can make templates out of routine events. Thus, you won’t have to worry about creating your hybrid event from scratch. Other features include Q&A and event analytics.
However, keep in mind that Aventri charges extra for additional features outside of the basics. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the cost before your event starts.
G2 Score: 4.2 (143 reviews)
Hybrid Event Platform #3) Bizzabo
Bizzabo can’t be ignored in the top 7 hybrid event platforms of 2021. The product has gained fame for its ease-of-use and features.
For marketers, their event platform must integrate with the marketing stack. Thus, Bizzabo offers integration with the most common marketing tools around. Think of Slack, Eloqua, and HubSpot. Also, there’s an event website tool inside the Bizzabo package. This makes creating an event page a piece of cake.
However, Bizzabo is not always as flexible as one might expect. Push notifications are hard to edit and would have to be deleted and recreated if you want to change something. The polling feature doesn’t always work as smoothly either. Therefore, there is still room for improvement on a User Experience level.
Overall, Bizzabo does a good job and is still improving their platform.
G2 Score: 4.6 (134 reviews)
Hybrid Event Platform #4) EventMobi
EventMobi offers a hybrid event platform that is well-known for its flexible pricing. The platform stands out in the way you can customize it.
Looking for plenty of features to choose from? With over 120 features to choose from, EventMobi is your choice. The platform includes features like polling, Q&A, and gamification. It makes it easy to integrate with popular platforms such as Marketo and Salesforce.
However, for some, the interface might not look like a modern design. This can influence the participant experience during hybrid events. Overall, EventMobi is a great platform and not for nothing one of the most popular around.
G2 Score: 4.6 (166 reviews)
Hybrid Event Platform #5) Swapcard
Swapcard offers hybrid events in its user-friendly platforms. It creates a one-stop-shop experience for attendees. The User Interface looks modern and smooth to navigate. This is supported by branding features.
If you are looking for a quick and simple event app, Swapcard is a solid choice. It is great for in-person events. For hybrid events, you might want to look further. Swapcard comes with features such as virtual booths and personalized agendas. However, it has limited streaming and virtual abilities.
Event planners can’t manage the visibility and complex targeting of their audience. For basic event needs, this is perfectly fine. If you’re looking for a more complete solution for hybrid events, you should look a bit further.
G2 Score: 4.3 (9 reviews)
Thinking of going with Swapcard? Check out the full Swapcard review!
Hybrid Event Platform #6) Hopin
Hopin is a virtual and hybrid event platform capable of hosting hybrid events from 50 people to 50,000.
It features several interactive areas where attendees can move in and out of rooms, simulating the feel of a traditional venue. Its networking area offers attendees a fun way to meet fellow guests, creating random video chats with others that automatically start, with each chat time set by the event organizers.
However, if you’re looking for a reliable and quick support team to help you with glitches during your presentation, you might want to look elsewhere. Their support has been reported to be on the slow side.
Still, Hopin is a recognizable name in the hybrid event space and is a good overall option.
G2 Score: 4.7 (211 reviews)
Read more about the platform in our Hopin Review: Virtual Event Tech Guide
Hybrid Event Platform #7) BigMarker
BigMarker is a virtual/hybrid event and webinar platform capable of hosting events of up to 10,000 people.
BigMarker is browser-based, meaning your guests won’t need to download an app. This can make attending a breeze.
Designing your hybrid event is fun and intuitive with BigMarker’s 15+ virtual modules, which are essentially separate customizable web pages for you to create your welcome page, ticketing, main stage, expo booth, and other virtual meeting spaces. Event hosts are encouraged to mix and match different modules to create their ideal event.
While it’s a fine enough virtual platform, BigMarker is still widely regarded as a webinar tool, which means it’s still a bit limited compared to other hybrid event platforms.
G2 Score: 4.6 (153 reviews)
Learn more about BigMarker’s features in our BigMarker Review: Virtual Event Tech Guide
Using a Hybrid Event Platform for Your Next Event
We may sound like a broken record, but a great hybrid event starts with a great hybrid event platform. Pick the platform that’s able to accommodate your audience size and interactivity needs so your audience gets a great user experience.
SpotMe is the complete engagement platform, creating a fun and fashionable hybrid event for your audience, filled with interactive features like polling, live Q&As, live streams, on-demand content, registration pages, and more.
For those looking for an all-in-one tool to help build their hybrid event from start to finish, SpotMe is an exceptional choice. Reach out today to start your free trial.
Looking for more guides to help with your hybrid event journey? Consider reading these:
- Virtual event comparison guide. Need more information to compare event platforms? Our comparison guide can help.
- Common types of virtual events companies utilize. Curious about other types of events that can be hybrid? Read our guide for more suggestions on event types.
- RFP guide and free template. We prepared a guide to virtual event RFPs. Includes a free virtual event RFP template.
- Need more help preparing your virtual event?
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