Your Guide to the Best Virtual Event Platforms in 2021

Thomas Paris
July 22, 2021
Your Guide to the Best Virtual Event Platforms in 2021 | Hoppier

Your next virtual event deserves to be more exciting and immersive than a standard Zoom call. Virtual event platforms can help. These useful tools allow you to transform a lifeless webcam environment into an amazing digital space where your guests can explore and interact.

In this guide, we’ll introduce you to the valuable role that virtual events platforms can play in digital and hybrid events. Plus, we’ll share our thoughts on what to look for and recommend some of our current favorite tools.

What Is a Virtual Event Platform?

A virtual event platform is a tool that helps your digital event take place and flourish. It’s a way to bring that live event feel into the digital world through the use of smart technology with audio, visual, and interactive elements.

At the heart of any great virtual event platform is a way for people to connect. The goal is to ramp up audience engagement through the use of interactive, immersive environments and touchpoints.

With the right virtual event platform, you’ll be able to make use of features and engagement tools like:

  • Breakout spaces for networking
  • Gamification
  • Live streaming
  • Polling
  • Q&A sessions and fireside chats
  • Virtual meetups
  • Virtual booths
  • Workshop facilitation

Some virtual event platforms also support you on the admin side of event planning with event registration and ticketing. These full-featured event management platforms help simplify your process so you can easily plan, run, and support a virtual event.

While a digital event lacks that face-to-face connection, the best virtual event platforms help you recreate that atmosphere — and allow people to join you from wherever they are in the world. This technology opens up your event to so many more people and gives them an immersive experience.

Using a Virtual Event Platform vs. a Video Conferencing Tool

Most people will automatically head to a video conferencing tool like Zoom for a meeting or a casual virtual event, but they’re often not the best option for large-scale or more immersive events. Virtual event platforms have a clear edge over video call tools because they’re designed with interactivity in mind.

While you can bring several people into a virtual meeting with video call software, it’s harder to engage with more than a handful of people at a time. There’s not enough space on the screen, and people struggle to get their voices heard. There’s also a lack of ambiance — what you see on screen is mainly other people through their webcams.

Virtual event platforms solve these problems and more. With separate keynote spaces, workshop rooms, and private meeting booths, it’s easy to start and join conversations at scale. And with the most immersive tools out there, you can navigate the space as a digital character or enjoy a virtual version of an event venue so it’s more fun as a participant.

What To Look for in a Virtual Event Platform

Hands type on a keyboard, using a virtual event platform

Every virtual event platform works slightly differently. Some are designed with boutique press events in mind while others let you stage show-stopping global trade shows that people can visit from their sofa.

Whether you’re looking for a tool to run a high-profile conference or something to host your all-staff meeting, you’ll want to find the perfect platform for the job. Here are some of the main factors to consider when choosing your virtual event platform.

Ease of Use

One of the most important features to consider is how easy the platform is to use — not just for your own team when it comes to event management, but for customer experience too. Nobody wants to deal with a frustrating platform, and it can create friction for your event attendees if they can’t use the platform easily.

Evaluate your software shortlist and examine how user friendly each tool is. Think about whether the login process is easy or whether your guests have to jump through too many hoops before they can listen to the keynote. Test to see if the tool works well across different devices, and check whether it has a mobile app if that’s important to you.

Look for a tool that doesn’t create any unnecessary barriers for your guests to enjoy your event or for your team to run things smoothly. Make sure it integrates with your CRM and other event marketing tools, and ensure it has the functionality you need — especially if you need something truly interactive that recreates that in-person conference feel.

Scalability

Not every event needs to be able to handle thousands of guests, but for the ones that do — like large trade shows with a global audience — scalability is essential. The last thing you want is for people to run into problems trying to join your virtual event, enter a seminar session, or interact with your video content.

If your event needs to reach a large number of people, look for a virtual event platform that's geared toward large events. These tools will be designed with the capacity for large numbers in mind, and their customer service team will be able to help you decide how best to use it to cater to your audience.

For smaller events, you can make do with a scaled-back virtual event platform. You won’t need to worry about making sure hundreds of people can access your virtual space at once — instead you’ll want a platform that makes your event feel cozy and intimate.

Customization Options

One of the best ways to set your virtual event apart from others is to create an immersive experience for your guests. To do that, you’ll need to choose a tool that lets you go all-in on customization.

If having a fully branded virtual space is important to you, look for a tool that’s highly customizable. Seek out a platform that lets you customize the way your digital spaces look and feel, using imagery, color, video, and audio content. This transforms your virtual event from ordinary and uninspiring into a space that’s full of color, fun, and intrigue.

Customization options will help you if you’re seeking sponsorship or exhibitors for your event. They’ll want to make their mark in your virtual event space, and you’ll be able to give them plenty of options — like branded banners displayed around virtual rooms, moving content on the walls, and their logos onstage when the main speakers present.

Pricing

Events come in all shapes and sizes, and the same is true for the event technology that helps run them. Pricing can vary wildly for virtual event platforms, so have a good idea of what your budget is when you build your shortlist of options.

Some virtual event tools only cost a few dollars per attendee, while others can set you back in the thousands per event. It all depends on your needs, how high profile the event is, and what kind of on-demand support you want from your technology partner.

For many virtual event platforms, you’ll need to pay a monthly or annual fee to get access to the software. This can be a big upfront cost, which is why you should be deliberate over your decision. Ask if you can try a demo of the product first, or sign up for a free trial so you can explore the features before you invest.

User Reviews

Adding a new piece of technology to your stack always feels like a gamble — especially if you haven’t used it before. To help you avoid choosing the wrong software, seek out user reviews before you buy.

User reviews are a valuable way to understand exactly how a product works from the perspective of someone actually using it. There’s no marketing speak or curated testimonials from top clients — instead, you get a feel for a real user’s experience with the tool.

To find useful user reviews, head to software review sites like G2 or Capterra. Here, you can search for the virtual event platform’s name, and see surface ratings and reviews from real users. Reading through several reviews will give you a great idea of the tool's user experience, challenges, and best-loved features.

Our Favorite Virtual Event Platforms for 2021

A man uses a virtual event platform on a tablet

Now that we know what to look for, let’s take a look at some of the best virtual event solutions on the market.

We’ve broken this down into three categories, so you can find the most relevant tools whether you’re hosting a networking event, conference, meeting, or sales and marketing event.

All prices quoted were correct at the time of publishing, but always check current subscription rates as they may change over time.

Best Tools for Virtual Networking Events

Hosting a networking event calls for a tool that’s designed with conversations in mind. You need something that feels like an in-person event as much as possible. Here are five of our top virtual event software picks for networking events.

1. Wonder

Wonder is a virtual networking tool that replicates real world networking with the help of integrated social cues. It’s a smart tool that aims to recreate a more natural way of getting to know others, and it includes the option to share content with all or smaller groups.

Event guests can navigate the sleek, group-focused space by directing their avatar towards someone to initiate a conversation. If they want to chat, the other person does the same — and they can now spark up a conversation. Guests can approach others in a similar way to an in-person networking event, and it’s easy for others to engage or move away to another area if they’re not interested.

Best for: Streamlined virtual networking

Pricing: Free

2. Hoppier

Hoppier is a virtual event platform that lets you create bespoke virtual experiences that increase attendee engagement. With Hoppier virtual cards, your event guests can order drinks, lunch, or treats from their favorite local vendors right to their door. It’s event catering at scale, but without the logistics problems.

This creative approach to event catering creates a memorable experience for guests. It’s ideal for virtual lunches, happy hour drinks, meetings, and more. You can even use Hoppier virtual cards as a fun alternative to conference goody bags, or as thank-you gifts for event sponsors and exhibitors.

Best for: Creative guest catering and corporate gifting

Pricing: From $5 per virtual card

3. SpatialChat

SpatialChat takes your event guests out of their homes or offices and into a virtual space — whether that’s a conference stage, virtual office setup, or poolside getaway. It’s a fun way to stage unique activities for your team or guests.

This visually impressive virtual event platform helps you create a more interactive place to host meetings, small events, team building days, and cocktail parties. It not only offers text chat, but also screen sharing, video content, and a fluid chat system.

Best for: Immersive digital networking

Pricing: Free plan available, paid plans from $49.99 per month

4. Mesh

Mesh, formerly known as Bash, helps you create fun virtual worlds for your event guests to explore. These 2D spaces are a refreshing alternative to a sleek background and are ideal for casual get-togethers or events in industries like marketing, gaming, or tech.

Guests can explore your event space in Mesh similarly to how they would in real life, by navigating their character around. When someone’s close enough to talk, a chat window will appear. The spaces are also highly customizable, as you can work with the Mesh team to create personalized backgrounds.

Best for: A retro, gaming-inspired atmosphere

Pricing: Free for up to 25 participants, paid plans start at $5 per user

5. Mixily

Mixily is a simple, all-in-one virtual event platform that lets you plan and manage small events for friends, family, and colleagues. It has a boutique, community-led feel, which makes it great for intimate gatherings and casual meetings.

This easy to use tool is a step up from Facebook events, and lets you create branded video call experiences for your guests. The platform also features landing pages and ticketing support, so you have everything you need in one place.

Best for: Simple all-in-one events platform

Pricing: Free, except for the ticketing support, which has a 1% and $0.30 fee applied to each ticket sold, plus credit card processing charges

Top Tools for Virtual Conferences

Hosting a virtual conference is a big deal. There’s so much to organize, and you’re often dealing with a larger audience. Virtual conference tools help simplify the planning process and make it easy to interact at scale. Here are five of our current favorites for conferences and trade events.

1. Hopin

Hopin offers a comprehensive set of management and hosting features suited for virtual events of up to 100,000 guests. It’s a popular tool loved by event planners worldwide, as it gives teams multiple ways to recreate that in-person feel at a virtual event.

This leading virtual conference tool allows people to network over live video, exchange virtual business cards, join breakout sessions, watch keynote presentations on stage, and explore interactive expo areas. There’s also an innovative speed networking feature that’s ideal for big conferences and trade shows. It’s a tool that caters well to passive guests, as they can simply watch a talk or session then make themselves visible and interact with the group when they wish.

Best for: Connection-focused conferences

Pricing: From $99 per month

2. Hubilo

Hublio allows businesses to scale their hybrid events and improve stakeholder return on investment thanks to its focus on creating an experience that works for all. It’s a platform that focuses on guest experience and sponsor experience equally.

This platform helps you combat virtual event fatigue with fun features like gamification. Guests can receive points for watching sessions, visiting exhibitor booths, and messaging other attendees. These points help them climb higher on a leaderboard, making them eligible for event swag. Not only is this fun for guests, the increased engagement makes it easier for event organizers to pull in exhibitors and sponsors for future events.

Best for: A great experience for all stakeholders

Pricing: Available on request

3. Accelevents

Accelevents is an all-in-one virtual & hybrid events platform that empowers event organizers and marketing professionals to create authentic human connections and drive sustainable growth. With a focus on growth acceleration, the Accelevents platform is designed to capture actionable analytics throughout the event ecosystem that translate into measurable marketing and sales performance strategies. A few of the platform’s popular features include seamless live streaming, in-depth analytic reports, interactive and customizable exhibitor booths, and 1:1 speed networking.

Accelevents supports multi-faceted online, hybrid, and in-person conferences, summits, fundraisers, educational seminars, team building events, career fairs, community networking, festivals, and more. No matter the event, Accelevents’ customer support is available 24/7 to ensure a seamless experience for all involved!

Best for: Intuitive Interface, Real-Time Analytics & Dashboards, Customer Service

Pricing: Free Trial; Plans starting at $500 and only pay for attendees who show up!

4. Tame

Tame is a creative virtual event platform that puts the focus on design and customization. It features a slick interface where you can customize and optimize the event experience to the last detail.

This conference tool works great for events with audiences of 500 and over. It has the option to add multiple live tracks, individual meetings, breakout sessions, and exhibitor booths. It’s also easy to host pre-recorded content as if it was live, which is ideal if your desired speakers are super busy people.

Best for: Highly customizable branded events

Pricing: Available on request

5. Snapbar

Snapbar offers you an innovative way to bring the popular event photo booth to your virtual or hybrid event. Build connections and create authentic user generated content with Snapbar’s web-based, virtual photobooths.

The experience can be fully branded with a custom start screen, color scheme, URL, overlays, stickers, and more. An optional AI background removal tool also makes it easy for you to add branded backgrounds for photos. Plus, your guests get to walk away with a fun memento from the event.

Best for: Creative virtual photo booths

Pricing: Available on request

6. Gamerjibe

Gamerjibe offers your guests an exciting 3D virtual world to explore. This intuitive event platform recreates a digital conference space or event hall that your guests can navigate with plenty of interactive elements to enjoy.

This virtual event platform is one of the closest you’ll find to that in-person experience. Your guests can use their avatars to explore the environment, approach booths, view videos, enjoy livestream talks, and interact with your branded content in a range of different spaces.

Best for: An immersive virtual world

Pricing: From $299 per month

Top Tools for Virtual Team Meetings‍

A team of work friends takes a selfie

Team meetings might happen every week, but sometimes you’ll want to put on a special team event. Whether you’re hosting an idea generating session or trying to plan a new project, these three tools can help.

1. The Sketch Effect

The Sketch Effect adds something creative and interactive to your virtual team meetings. This fun tool lets you bring in the help of a live artist, who’ll join your event virtually and sketch out your ideas in real time.

This virtual meeting tool is a great way to liven up an ideas-focused team meeting or help you create a lasting memory from an all-hands event. Your team can enjoy watching the live-streamed sketch and will walk away with compelling images and a time-lapse video they can look back on.

Best for: Creative visualization

Pricing: Available on request

2. Miro

Miro offers you a digital blank canvas and the tools to bring your ideas, plans, and thoughts to life in a collaborative way. This team collaboration and visual communication tool features endless whiteboard and canvas areas.

Organize virtual brainstorming sessions or run interactive workshops with Miro’s online collaborative environment. It’s a tool that works well for both real-time and asynchronous teamwork, using an approachable and accessible visual system.

Best for: Visual digital collaboration

Pricing: Free

3. Rume

Rume infuses life into virtual meetings with fun features like games, whiteboards, and breakout rooms. It’s a tool that takes video chat one step further and introduces a more realistic way to handle multiple conversations.

This platform is not only great for team meetings, but also for more casual moments like lunch and learns or virtual parties. It’s easy to collaborate, play games, and break into multiple conversations within one space — just like you would in person.

Best for: Conversations within conversations

Pricing: Free

Top Tools for Virtual Sales & Marketing Events

Sometimes you’ll need a tool that’s more formal than the casual meeting platforms but doesn’t have all the big features of a conference-focused tool. These three virtual event platforms are ideal for sales and marketing meetings, events, and demos.

1. Livestorm

Livestorm is an events management platform that lets you work the full event lifecycle — planning, running, promoting, and analyzing your virtual event. Not only can you run webinars, demos, and sales calls, you can also easily transfer that information back to your CRM afterwards — making it perfect for sales and marketing teams.

Instead of just offering webinars, Livestorm allows for live, interactive sessions where guests can ask and answer questions and take part in polls. Hosts can also create automated webinars, which is great for busy organizations that want to run sessions for onboarding, training, or demoing new features.

Best for: Clean and elegant video calls and demos

Pricing: Free with paid plans from $99 per month

2. Banzai

Banzai is an all-in-one virtual event plan designed with event marketing in mind. You can host virtual events with ease, plus collect and analyze valuable data to optimize future events — with a focus on increasing attendance and ROI.

This tool’s AI supported technology makes it ideal for companies that want to host webinars and digital events at scale. It features tools to help you increase your target audience's awareness of your event, and it includes plenty of customization options to help you create an impressive experience.

Best for: Simplified virtual event management

Pricing: Available on request

3. Splash

Splash is a useful virtual event platform for event managers and marketers who run a mix of virtual, hybrid, and physical events. This tool helps you organize everything in one place so you can streamline your process and focus more of your attention on creating an amazing guest experience.

This all-in-one virtual event platform is designed to help you create a consistent brand experience at every step of the journey — including invitations, registration forms, virtual waiting rooms, live streams, and post-event content. This tool also plays well with others — meaning you can move your data seamlessly into your CRM, email marketing, or internal comms tools.

Best for: Running both virtual and in-person events

Pricing: Free, with paid plans starting at $9,500 per year

Hoppier: A Creative Approach to Event Catering and Gifting

Sometimes the best virtual event platforms are the most unexpected. Enter Hoppier — a platform that lets you create fun experiences for your guests through a virtual card, loaded with credit they can spend on food, drinks, and treats as part of your event.

Designing a virtual credit card with the Hoppier virtual event platform

Our platform lets you add atmosphere to your virtual and hybrid events. Your guests can show up to the keynote or to a meeting with a luxury coffee in hand — instead of one they’ve made at home — or they can catch up with a new contact over lunch from their most loved deli.

Fun Guest Experience

Hoppier lets you bring some of that in-person event experience to people’s homes and offices. It’s an engaging way to add a hybrid element to your virtual event by mixing your digital sessions with in-person treats, drinks, and snacks from attendees' favorite vendors.

While your guests can’t head to the coffee bar in your virtual event, they can use their Hoppier card to get from their local coffee shop. And hitting the conference after party isn’t the same without cocktails — you can help them order the perfect drink for your virtual happy hour with their Hoppier card.

Streamlined Management

Not only does Hoppier add to your guests' enjoyment, it’s also a breeze to use. Adding Hoppier virtual cards to your next event is as simple as signing up, creating a program, and setting your preferences. Then, you’re free to distribute your cards to your guests.

Our easy-to-use dashboard means you can have your program up-and-running in minutes. Give your program a name, customize your card with your event logo and colors, and set a spending and time limit. You can also limit the allowed vendors, or keep it open so your guests can spend their balance as they wish.

Vendors you can access with the Hoppier virtual event platform


When you’re ready to hit go, it’s easy to send your virtual cards to your guest list. Craft a short and sweet email (or use one of our email templates), include the link, and the card is now ready for them to use when your event begins.

Affordable Virtual Event Platform

While running an in-person event can be hugely expensive, virtual events can be costly too. At Hoppier, we have a simple and affordable pricing structure that lets you bring this fun experience to your guests at a low cost.

From just $5 per virtual card, you can add Hoppier to your next virtual event. This makes it an affordable way to treat your team during an appreciation day event, or scale it up to bring hybrid catering to hundreds at your next conference. What’s even better is that any unused funds return to you at the end — something you can't get from those leftover sandwiches at a catered conference.

Run Your Event Smoothly With the Right Virtual Event Platform

Your online event lives within the platform you choose, so finding the right one can help you throw a truly impressive meeting, conference, or get-together for your guests. Consider what your needs are, think about your budget, and decide which features matter most to you. From there, build a shortlist of your favorites — like those in our list above. From your shortlist, try demos and seek out reviews before making your final choice.

If you’re ready to cater your virtual event or create event swag that's fun and unexpected, give Hoppier a try. Our virtual cards make it easy for you to treat your guests to food, drinks, and treats wherever they are in the world — without the hassle of organizing deliveries. Explore the platform for yourself, or book a demo with our friendly team to learn how you can use Hoppier for your next event.

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