Find the Best Virtual Conference Platforms

Find the Best Virtual Conference Platforms

Let’s discuss what makes the best virtual conference platforms.

In 2020, we hosted over 150 virtual conferences. Something we learned from hosting all those virtual events is that conference management teams and the events they organize are like snowflakes. All are unique in their own special way.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that finding the best virtual event platform can present challenges for most groups. Some organizations will find that most virtual conference platforms aren’t the right fit!

You might be selecting a platform for an academic symposium, or maybe a virtual conference for large groups… it doesn’t matter. The best place to start is to identify your most desired features.

3 Popular Touchstone Features When Selecting the Best Virtual Conference Platform

  • The Platform Can be Bundled with Support and/or Implementation Services
  • The Platform’s Look and Feel Isn’t Based in Virtual Reality, and therefore isn’t running into the issue of skeuomorphism.
  • The Platform Makes it Easy to Build a Sponsorship Package

Why Virtual Conference Services Are as Important as Features

We recently surveyed around 100 people that were searching for the best virtual conference platform. We found that HALF of them want to find a virtual conference company that offers services for implementation and support.

Also, if you were to speak with some of the 150 organizations we helped in 2020, you’d hear all about how our virtual conference management services were just as important as the virtual conference platform.

Based on what we hear from customers and those who were surveyed, the best virtual conference software is one that comes with high quality services.

What Event Managers Don’t Want in a Virtual Conference Platform

The best virtual online event platforms free up a conference manager’s time to focus on addressing their main concerns.

After about a year of discussing virtual events with associations, the two priorities we hear the most are:

  1. Making their events attractive to sponsors
  2. Keeping attendees engaged

Event managers need time to focus on these priorities, and can’t be bogged down by administrative duties.

Therefore, spending time on the implementation and setup of a virtual conference is time that conference managers are better off spending somewhere else.

So, the best virtual conference platforms have systems in place for event managers to spend less time with administrative tasks and more time on the most important aspects of a virtual conference.

This Fatal Design Flaw Can Sink a Conference Experience in a Hurry

If the conferencing platform is based in virtual reality and therefore runs into issues with skeuomorphism, event managers will often find that a lot of their time is wasted with onboarding speakers, sponsors and attendees to the platform.

At OpenWater, our virtual conference platform design is based on a point and click interface that mirrors the look and feel of your website. Take a look for yourself. Our virtual conference look and feel is a lot like browsing any other website.

Should I Select a Platform that Uses Zoom?

Millions of people use Zoom everyday to connect with friends, host webinars and conduct meetings.

Therefore, your conference attendees and speakers are likely to easily navigate and interact at your conference if you choose a Zoom virtual conference platform.

Zoom is a scalable, accessible, and reliable solution — especially for virtual conferences with large groups.

OpenWater’s virtual conference platform uses Zoom for the reasons mentioned above.

But even if you don’t use OpenWater, we have professional grade training that we offer to anyone who wants to learn how to use Zoom for virtual events.

What Sponsors Want from a Platform

It’s important to choose a virtual conference platform that will keep your conference sponsors happy.

At OpenWater, we attend virtual events as sponsors all the time. So, we’ve experienced many of the common frustrations you might have heard from your sponsors. This gives us a unique perspective when we discuss your sponsors’ needs.

More often than not, the biggest challenge sponsors face when participating in a virtual conference is a lack of involvement in the conference programming.

Below are some questions sponsors often ask themselves before deciding to participate in a virtual conference:

  • Can we deliver thought leadership through a dedicated session that is built into the core agenda of the conference?
  • Is the conference platform too obscure? Will it impede our ability to capture leads and promote resources?
  • Will we have a chance to send messages to attendees before and after the conference?
  • Can we sponsor specific sessions that align with our products? Are the logo placements and brand mentions broadly based?

Hopefully, this works to provide perspective of your sponsor’s POV.

What Are the Most Important Features for a Virtual Conference Platform?

Platform features alone will not make or break your conference. A lot more goes into a conference than the virtual conference platform alone.

That being said, we’re constantly testing new features.

Feel free to take a look at some of OpenWater’s features below. Please note that these are the basics of what you should be looking for in a platform. If you’re looking for more of an in-depth look at OpenWater’s features, download our LookBook guide.


Welcome Message, Video, Sponsor, Easy Navigation
The best virtual conference platforms have a welcoming homepage that's easy to navigate

Schedule Page

Sponsor Placement, Calendar (Google E.t.c), Search
Strong conference websites have schedule pages that are easy to use

Session Page

Session Recording, Speaker Bios, Headshots, Downloadables, and more
virtual conference session pages should include information about the presenter

Exhibit Hall

Search, Chat Schedule, Description, Prominent Image
The beset conference platform exhibit halls include chat buttons to network with conference participants

Sponsor Page

Call to Action Buttons, Videos and Photos (Auto-Configured)
Sponsors love to see their own personal web pages with call to action buttons, videos, and photos

Networking Lounge and Attendee Directory

1-1 Chat Rooms, Group Chats, Customizable Profiles

To learn about OpenWater’s advanced features, we’d be happy to schedule a demo to show you.