Today, it's easier than ever to host a virtual event and gather attendees for webinars, conferences, trade shows, corporate events, career expos, and other types of online events. Thankfully, organizers’ events are no longer limited to the location of their attendees and can have a much broader reach. But no matter the timing or type of the event, the first step is choosing the right event management platform.
In general, you want your virtual event software to be an all-in-one solution that gives you the flexibility, options, and user-friendliness you need. Below we discuss what virtual event software is and what you should look for when choosing a platform.
What Is Virtual Event Software?
Virtual event software is a platform that allows you to create and host online event experiences. Virtual events can have a wide range of components, but they tend to include some if not all of the following:
- Multiple ways to livestream a presenter, panel of speakers, or an exhibitor’s broadcast to a virtual audience
- The ability for attendees to interact virtually over live video and chat with other attendees, sponsors, speakers, and vendors
- Recorded sessions that attendees (and those who couldn’t attend) can review later
- Breakout sessions and video 1:1s so smaller groups of attendees can interact with one another without leaving the main event
Virtual events offer many benefits for both event planners and attendees. In short, the three main benefits are expanded reach, saving money, and helping the environment.
- Reach: Virtual events allow for a far greater reach, because you can include attendees from all over the world who might not otherwise be able to attend in-person.
- Money: Virtual events save money — virtual attendees save on travel and lodging costs when they don't have to attend a physical event. Plus, event organizers don't have to worry about the costs associated with renting a venue, setting up the physical event space, printing event materials, and much more.
- Sustainability: Virtual events are also much more environmentally friendly than physical events that are onsite.
Read on to find out about some key features you'll want to have in your virtual event software platform and event app.
What Features Should I Look For?
The platform you choose will make all the difference. Every event is unique, whether it's a real-time virtual conference or a career expo with sessions connecting candidates with employers, or just a family holiday party. However, there are fundamental features that every virtual event organizer should consider for their online experience:
Most virtual events will contain some kind of live video broadcast, often as the main keynote presentation or panel discussion on Stage. Make sure your virtual event solution allows for simple and streamlined video broadcasting to a large number of viewers, without compromising stability or performance.
If your event features multiple speakers at the same time, you'll want to check that the virtual event software you choose supports multi-speaker sessions (e.g., Hopin can have up to 20 people on screen in the Sessions area).
In addition to DMs and private, unlimited one-on-one video-chatting, Hopin attendees can also connect via networking with automated one-on-one live video chat matchmaking. All of these communication options allow attendees to connect in an authentic way, just like they would at an in-person event.
If your virtual event has an expo for attendees to explore, Hopin is a great choice. Our platform supports an unlimited number of concurrent virtual booths with video livestreaming or pre-recorded content from YouTube, Vimeo, etc. There are tiered booth sizes (which is perfect for distinguishing sponsors i.e., Gold, Silver, Bronze) as well as a tag system and pagination for easy filtering and browsing. Sponsors receive live notifications when someone enters their booth, so that a productive conversation takes place every time.
Attendee Engagement Features
An important goal of hosting a virtual event is to achieve the same level of attendee engagement as you would have at a live event. Luckily, your attendees will be able to chat face-to-face similarly to being in person if the platform you choose supports one-on-one virtual engagement. Tip: Make sure to prompt attendees to network throughout the event by posting in chat or displaying instructions on the Stage in between segments.
Look for engagement features like multi-tiered chat, gamification, and live polls. A robust virtual events platform like Hopin creates an opportunity for networking and provides attendees with a download of everyone they engaged with to follow up post-event. This is also valuable attendance and engagement data for you as the event organizer to share with sponsors along with advanced event analytics and lead generation details.
Your event is unique, and that's why you should choose a flexible virtual event software platform that can support it. This means integrating your company's tools, brand and messaging into the platform so that attendees know they're in the right place. Good virtual event software also allows for branded web rooms, event websites, and custom landing pages.
One of the most important keys to success is your event registration page. If potential attendees find your event via Google or browsing events on Hopin Explore, you’ll want to make sure the copy, the details, the speakers, the agenda, the visuals — even the event name — are interest and attractive enough to motivate your target audience to RSVP or purchase a ticket. Hopin’s all-in-one platform comes with a free registration page builder that works seamlessly with your event venue. You also receive customized email marketing to make it easy to stay in touch with your registrants. Remember to design your registration page for mobile audiences, as many of your attendees will be signing up using their mobile devices.
Having the ability to automate certain features or processes makes for huge time savings in event planning and once your event kicks off.
Do your research to find out what processes and systems are automated within the software you're considering, whether it's event registration, ticketing, or email marketing efforts. Hopin schedules reminder emails in advance (that you can customize) in order to take some of the event planning logistics off your plate!
Most event planners want to easily record and download all their event content post-event. This allows event organizers to make their content accessible to those who weren't able to attend, and follow up with attendees interested in reliving the highlights. Plus, presenters and organizers can use the recorded content for digital products and event marketing for future events.
When considering a virtual event platform and event management software, ask key questions about the recording element. How is the recording done? Is there a price for recording and storing the content? How long do exhibitors and attendees need to wait for it to be ready to access? Answering these questions can point you toward the best virtual event software for your event.
Hopin’s platform lets you record and export video recordings of the Stage, Sessions, and Booths areas as soon as the segment ends. You can also export all chat transcripts, a list of leads who registered interest in booths, all poll data, and more.
Regardless of the type of virtual event (business conference, industry training, workshops, etc.), there are times when event planners want to monetize their events.
When choosing a virtual events platform, ask yourself how the technology will let you monetize your project. What kind of built-in monetization features does the platform offer? Is there an advertising space that can allow for sponsorships? Considering these questions early makes for a robust virtual event that provides maximum value for attendees and your business.
If you have a global audience coming to your event, there’s no need to worry about ticket acquisition or payment processing — Hopin lets you offer paid, free, or private tickets in any currency.
Support and Security
Successful virtual events have a solid support team behind them. Hopin has built out a Knowledge Base filled with FAQs but depending on your plan you may want a more hands-on experience. With select Advanced plans, you can enjoy features like a dedicated account manager, prioritized email and chat support, day-of event services, event monitoring, and speaker dry-runs for events over 1,000 registrations.
Another major consideration for your virtual events platform is security. Hopin’s platform is GDPR, CCPA, and PCI compliant, and we use encrypted data, audio, and visual signals. Enterprise customers can add SSO to their events for an extra layer of security. You can also choose to make your event password protected or hidden, and our revocable user access and chat moderation features let you have complete and secure control over your event. There is also live system operation monitoring for complete peace of mind on the big day.
Virtual Events Made Easy
Virtual events are here to stay and foundational to the continued success of the event industry. Virtual events are essential as we continue to navigate the pandemic, but advantages like increased audience reach, attendee engagement, cost savings, and environmental benefits make them attractive for many organizations going forward.
Whether you're planning a webcast as part of a company-wide virtual meeting or conferencing with thousands of participants divided into virtual booths, one thing remains true: the event software you choose shapes the quality of your attendees' experience.
At Hopin, we're building the future of events. And we're obsessed with helping our customers make events that are distinct and remarkable. Hopin can help you plan and execute a virtual event of any shape or size. Our platform is scalable to 100,000 participants and we offer an all-in-one customizable platform, unique attendee engagement features, and more.