Virtual Event Platform Comparison: 2020 Virtual Event Tech Guide

June 6, 2020

Our virtual event platform comparison helps you pick your next virtual event solution. There has never been a wider selection of tools to create virtual events.
This is both an opportunity and a burden. Which solution will suit your needs? What to look for?

Mosaic of leading virtual event platforms in 2020

Defining “best”

Be strategic before starting your virtual event platform comparison. It pays to have a definition of what “best” looks like.

For us, “best” means a solution that works for the organizer and its goals. We also want to think about the audience and their needs.

The type of event or conference, and the goals you have are critical factors. The timeline for your event or meeting strategy are key as well.
First, you need to have clarity on your virtual event plan, and on your goals. Then we will draw up a list of critical features for your next tool.

Audience needs

As you use this virtual event platform comparison guide, you may consider the needs of your users.
Can you create an experience that people will not forget in an online setting? Can you exceed your attendees’ expectations? How does this compare to the value they receive with an in-person event?

Needs are going to be different. Attending a regular company town hall vs. attending a user conference is not the same experience.
For example, for the company town hall, I might expect

For the user conference, I probably want

The type of event you are hosting matters. You spent many years building your client community. Now you are switching to virtual, and you should not downgrade the experience. Many planners went virtual with simple tools and poor delivery. And as a result, they damaged their brands.

Likewise, with your town hall meeting, you may want a simpler tool. But you need robust data analytics and insights.

Critical features for your virtual event

So, what features should you be on the lookout for? Some features may be critical for any type of event. Others will be dependent on the virtual event type.
Want to start quickly? We published a free RFP template for you. It is packed with the critical features you will likely need.

Here are some features you will want to consider:

We have published a detailed list of all features for virtual events. This is useful if you want to go more in-depth in your tool review.

Three buckets of virtual event solutions

We have built our virtual event platform comparison guide by reviewing available tools. To make it easy, we have created three buckets of virtual event solutions:

  • Virtual event platforms. These are the most versatile. They offer a broader range of use cases for external and internal users. They often have the interactive elements for both live and on-demand. Most of these tools have rich navigation options.
  • Webinar solutions. These solutions tend to have less interactivity built-in. They focus on delivering short-form webcasting (i.e. one-way delivery with no real agenda) with on-demand access.
  • Internal meeting tools. These solutions are focused on internal users, and two-way communication and collaboration. They rely on having a separate process for inviting your users. (i.e. use of an external calendar and email tools). They have a simple navigation that is limited to one screen.

Check our full side-by-side virtual event platform comparison of features.

Virtual event platform comparison: virtual event platforms

Accelevents

Founded in 2014, Accelevents is a virtual event tool helping you promote and track your event success. They offer features such as conference registration and attendee agenda management. Accelevents stands out because they combine engagement with the ability to sell tickets.
Integration is mainly through Zapier, and that may not suit all users, but provides flexibility for others. They offer direct integration with Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel. These will help you track event promotion.

Screenshot of Accelevents
Accelevents. Image by Accelevents.

Best for: External users at virtual summits and user conferences. Any event where ticketing and tracking efforts are key.

SpotMe

Founded in 2001, SpotMe has offices in the US, Europe and APAC. It focuses on helping clients engage their audience, and build a thriving virtual community. The solution offers both webcasting sessions and 2-way group breakout sessions. It features chatbots and hyper-personalization of the participant experience. Event tech experts rate the platform highly for its extensive flexibility and navigation options.
The depth of interactive tools and the ability to offer RTMPS secure live streaming are key differentiators. You can create a fully branded experience across live and on-demand content. And the experience can be on the web or with native apps on iOS and Android.
Integration exist for CRM, marketing automation systems, and other event registration systems. They offer add-ons that enhance the user experience.

SpotMe screenshot for virtual event platform comparison
SpotMe virtual event platform

Best for: External and internal events. For enterprise users that want branded experiences that go beyond the basics.

vFairs

Founded in 2008, vFairs is a virtual career fairs and virtual trade shows pioneer. The main features include 3D models of the event with trade show booths. It offers an e-commerce or in-event buying experience. With vFairs, virtual career attendees can book meetings with employers at their virtual booth.
They offer an API to help build integration to the rest of your stack. Services to help you create your virtual event 3D experience are available.

Best for: External users at virtual career fairs and virtual trade shows.

INXPO/Intrado

Founded in 2004, INXPO is a webcasting solution for webinar-style events. Like vFairs, the main feature includes the ability to create 3D models of the event, including exhibit booths. INXPO provides services to assist with large event webcasting. They offer tools for video editing and production.
INXPO offers widgets to help customize the webinar and webcast experience. Their packages have polls, Q&A and games, and integration with YouTube, Facebook and Roku TV.

Screenshot of INXPO/Intrado
INXPO. Image by Intrado.

Best for: External and internal users attending webinars, virtual training and virtual trade shows.

Virtual event platform comparison: webinar solutions

ON24

Founded in 1998, ON24 is a specialist in the webinar world. They are known for robust webinars and on-demand lead-generating content. They have strong analytics around webinars, on-demand use and attendees. ON24 offers integration to CRM and marketing automation solutions, and an API. The #webinerd community helps you plan and execute better webinars.

Screenshot of ON24
ON24. Image by ON24.

Best for: Lead generation and user conferences.

See also: our in-depth review of ON24 for virtual events.

Zoom Video Webinars

Founded in 2011, Zoom does not need an introduction. While most people use their meeting solution, Zoom Video Webinar is a robust option. Key features include the ability to host breakout sessions. Zoom has basic registration capabilities. They offer a range of integration with CRM and marketing automation solutions. Unlike most tools in this guide, they require software to be installed.

Screenshot of Zoom Video Webinar
Zoom Video Webinar. Image by Zoom Video Communications

Best for: External and internal webinars & team meetings

Runner-ups: BigMarker (video review)

Virtual event platform comparison: internal meeting tools reviews

Adobe Connect

Rebranded Adobe Connect in 2006, this flexible tool is a targeting collaboration and team meetings. With Adobe Connect, users can switch between different modes, like collaboration, sharing and discussion.
Widgets for Adobe Connect are a powerful feature. Adobe and 3rd party developers make these widgets available. This allows the user to enhance the collaboration and team meetings.
Adobe Connect does offer webinar delivery. At the time of writing, this is capped to 1,000 participants.

Screenshot of Adobe Connect
Adobe Connect. Image by Adobe.

Best for: Internal users who want a no-frills user experience. Great collaboration on a whiteboard and with live annotations.

Microsoft Teams, Yammer and Stream

This set of tools is part of the Microsoft Office 365 suite. These tools are very good at collaboration and virtual town hall meetings. A good integration with the rest of the Microsoft offering is a key point. Teams users find it easy to share and work together on Microsoft documents.
This set of tools makes it easy to build communities. Each group can have a feed dedicated to it. The limiting factor here is the agenda. They rely on Outlook to send meeting invitations. There is no agenda builder or registration platform.

Screenshot of Microsoft Teams used at a virtual event
Microsoft Teams. Image by Microsoft.

Best for: Users who are invested in the Microsoft world. For people who want a solution for internal collaboration and virtual town halls.

Google Meet & G Suite

As part of the Google Cloud, they offer a range of tools, including Google Meet. This allows planners to host team meetings and virtual town halls from the G Suite. Google Meet itself offers limited interactive tools, and is used in combination with Google Calendar and Gmail.
As of June 2020, the limit on the number of live viewers in Google Meet is 250 users. This may be an issue for some events and meetings. Google has indicated they will raise this limit in the future. You can live stream your Google Meet session. However, users have to be logged into G Suite. This makes it unsuitable for an external audience.

Screenshot of Google Meet
Google Meet. Image by Google.

Best for: G Suite users who have smaller meeting sizes and want a solution for team meetings and virtual town halls.

Our verdict: best virtual event tools by event type

Best solution for small business and mid-market webinar = Zoom Video Webinars
You cannot beat Zoom for simplicity. It is so widely used now, even a tech-averse person will probably already know how to use it.

Best for enterprise and large-scale webinars = ON24
If you want an enterprise webinar solution, then look no further than ON24. You cannot beat ON24 for the pure webinars. They also have a powerful on-demand mode to help you generate views and leads to flow into your CRM.

Best solution for classroom collaboration = Adobe Connect
We like Adobe Connect for its flexibility. You can quickly change between collaboration, sharing, and discussion modes. While G Suite and Microsoft offer similar tools, Adobe Connect beats them because it does more. Also, Adobe Connect does not lock you into a full ecosystem.

Best for virtual job fairs = vFairs
vFairs has been doing virtual job fairs for a while, and they have simply mastered them. They help you build 3D models. They are the best fit for facilitating job hunters scheduling and meeting 1-1 with company reps.

Best for ticketed virtual summits = Accelevents
Look no further than Accelevents for summits. Event planners hosting ticketed events will find their tool helpful. Plus they have robust analytics around the promotion of your event.

Best for virtual events with sophisticated requirements = SpotMe
SpotMe is a flexible platform with enterprise-grade features that offers a fully branded experience. It can be used across a variety of virtual event types.

Starting with your virtual event platform comparison

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