For a research project I am connected to as a valorization advisor, I have been looking for a system to host online events that offers extensive opportunities for informal networking between participants. A system that makes an online event a bit closer to the experience of a live event at a physical location. So a system that has a bit more to offer than Zoom, although its feature to create breakout rooms is of course great. Because you might be looking for the same, I decided to share my findings here. In this post you can find:
- a short intro to the two systems that I have so far looked at in some detail: Remo and Let’s Get Digital;
- a detailed comparison of the features of these two systems;
- a list of some other systems that might deserve a closer look, depending on what sort of event you are trying to organize
1. Key benefits & downsides of Remo and Let’s Get Digital
Let’s Get Digital
- What characterizes Let’s Get Digital is a virtual lobby where you can put one or two hosts who are real-time interacting with participants in the lobby (announcing upcoming program items, answering chat questions, welcoming people who have just entered).
- It mimics a real conference experience with a recorded video of somebody receiving you at reception, a video of someone opening the door for you when you enter a breakout room, participants having a ‘badge’ and so on.
- You can schedule a ‘speed date event’ where people enter a ‘carousel’ to randomly meet new people, or use a matchmaking function to bring them into contact with others
- People can easily arrange to have one-on-one video meetings with other participants during the event
- Price is per event, and starting costs are relatively high (at least €1.750 fixed costs per event and €5 per participants when I made an inquiry in May 2020)
- People need to use both a desktop computer and install an app on their phone to get optimal benefit from the system
- Newcomer. Only in existence since 2020.
- What distinguishes Remo is that participants enter the conference in a virtual lobby with small tables (2-6 people, depending on your floorplan) where they can video chat with just the people at that specific table. They can switch tables at any moment they want, just as they would when you have a break at a regular conference.
- People can also share their screen and use a whiteboard at these tables, so it is also possible to have them do some actual work in very small groups
- There is a free version available that should be sufficient for smaller events
- Not very suitable for complex events with lots of parallel sessions (at multiple times), although a limited number of breakout sessions is possible with some effort
- You cannot assign people to tables in the platform (although you may of course email them in advance to tell them where they are supposed to sit)
2. A detailed, systematic comparison between these two systems
For the detailed comparison between both systems that I promised, I would like to refer to a page on this topic made with Notion, an online workspace that allows me to easily compile tables and databases.
3. Other possible options (not checked out yet)
On https://blog.hootsuite.com/virtual-events/ I found this list of platforms for virtual events, some of them I still want to look into (if I find the time). Descriptions are also copied from this blog post at Hootsuite:
- 6connex: Exhibitors can create virtual booths, compete for leaderboard positions, livestream, and chat with this virtual trade show platform.
- Brella: Speakers, multitrack agendas, sponsors, individual streams, and more are taken care of with this hub for virtual conferences.
- HeySummit: Build a landing page, onboard speakers, register attendees, and more. Note that this solution helps package virtual events, but you’ll need to integrate with tools for livestreaming.
- Hop In: This all-in-one live events platform covers everything from networking events, meetings, trade shows, webinars, live broadcasts, and more.
- Run the World: Everything from cocktail parties to fireside chats are an option with this remote conference platform. Built-in templates are available for different use-cases to minimize event-planning hassles.
- Vfairs: A virtual expo platform with everything from booths to webinar and conversations starter tools.
Other options that I found that might deserve a closer look (also depending on what sort of event you are trying to organize, not all of them seem ideally suited for academic conferences):
- BigBlueButton: “a web conferencing system designed for online learning”
- Cisco Webex Events & Webcasting: “host a webinar for up to 3000 paricipants for large meetings and corporate events”
- Teooh: “allows you to create and attend virtual gatherings as a one-of-a-kind, personalized avatar. Interact with and grow your community from anywhere with just the click of a button.”
- WebinarNinja: “The all-in-one webinar solution you’ve been looking for”
- Meeting Mojo: “Meeting Mojo one-to-one meeting software enables your delegates to book meetings with each other online, ahead of your event. It provides this service through an online meeting scheduler website, created specially for your event.”
- DigitalSamba: “Professional, robust and secure HD meetings and webinars. In your browser and download-free.”