As listeners of the Event Tech Podcast already know, choosing the right event platform is one of the most important decisions event planners can make for their long-term event strategy. Last week, the Endless Events team published the list of the 22 best event platforms to use in 2022. Enthusiastic and curious as ever, Will and Brandt wanted to know what went on behind the scenes. How did they rank them? What features did they prioritize? Today, they’re on a quest to find out! And who better to talk to about top event platforms than Endless’ Kyle Kocinski! He’s been on the Event Tech Podcast before, talking about the future of virtual and hybrid event platforms.
Today, he joins the podcast again to explain how the Endless team created this report. What makes this list credible is the fact that none of these top event platforms paid Endless to be featured on the list. Kyle says that he and his team considered over 500 event technology providers and ranked them based on several parameters. Press play and find out more about the logic behind putting together this informative list and more!
Top Event Platforms 2022: It’s All About The Features!
First, Kyle explains why the Endless implementation team decided to put out the list of top event platforms to use in 2022. They want to help planners go beyond Zoom calls. Also, to make their decision-making process easier. After all, it’s hard to be an event planner these days – there’s an overwhelming amount of event platforms out there to choose from.
How did they go about creating this report? “First, we looked at some core objectives that event planners were asking for. We did a poll on LinkedIn. Out of all event platform features, registration and email manager were at the top. Following were native streaming players, video meetings or video rooms, gamification, onsite lead retrieval, and credit tracking.” What stood out was the need for greater accessibility in event tech. “That was one of the key features that we’re not seeing enough in event technology today,” Kyle says.
The list of top event platforms to use in 2022 reflects what event planners are looking for. “We want to take the time for you to meet with these different technologies and learn about them. That way, you don’t have to search for the top event platforms and go with the first Google ad or the one with the most reviews on G2.”
Kyle explains that reviews don’t necessarily reflect the quality of the platform itself. “Sometimes, companies reach out to you and offer a $50 with a gift card in return for a positive review. So take those with a grain of salt.”
So, why did some event platforms make it to the list while others didn’t? “It was tough because you have to consider all the different event planners and events,” explains Kyle. “You might be planning a corporate event or an internal meeting. We had to make sure to have the perspective of all these planners. But some criteria matters across the board, such as security and ease of use. We’re seeing that not enough event technologies are being transparent about how they’re tracking and storing their data. And as you’re planning events year after year, you want to make sure that they’re just data processing and not data owning.”
They also prioritized brandability and customization opportunities. “Everybody has a different perspective of how custom they want their event platform to look. And a lot of times, you’re molding your event to fit this event platform. But sometimes, brandability might be the number one component for your event and you need to make sure that it has your font and exactly what you want to be shown on the homepage – nothing more, nothing less.”
Find Out What Platforms Is Best For YOU!
Will wants to clarify one thing. “Are you saying that someone shouldn’t just pick the number one event platform on this list? That the platform that might be perfect for you is someone ranked 5th or 88th?”
“Yes, 100%. It’s really about putting on the shoes of your attendee or sponsor,” says Kyle. “As you’re demoing this event technology, ask yourself: is it simple? There are so many features – you don’t want everyone to get lost in all that’s out there. You want to make sure that it’s a clear journey. That your event goals are obtainable and easy to navigate. You can have the most brandable platform and the most updated UI, but if your attendees are not actually using your features, then I wouldn’t say that’s a success.”
It’s not just about celebrating the top event technologies out there, Kyle also thinks that the list of top event platforms will make the market more competitive. “We’re now exposing the best features or the best framework. We want the event technology market to keep becoming stronger and stronger.”
Top Event Platforms 2022: Accessibility Matters
Will is curious to know: “Is there anything that surprised you about this list?”
“Yes, and it’s not a good surprise,” replies Kyle. Considering virtual platforms have become the new event venues, he thinks they should also become more accessible. “There are very few event platforms that are offering any sort of integrations to increase the font size, for example. There are platforms on this list that have some incredible accessibility overlays, but that’s all they are: overlays. Platforms really need to be thinking ahead to make sure that they’re opening doors for any audience as event planners want to make their content more accessible globally.”
“I didn’t really think of accessibility being the number one,” says Will. “We have multi-million investments put into these platforms. Adding a button that allows someone to increase the font size seems totally doable. Is that requiring the user then to utilize a Chrome extension? Does that end up having to be the requirement? Is that onus put on the attendee?”
“They’ll probably have the best understanding of which browser and device to use for their generic internet surfing,” says Kyle. “Platforms like Pheedloop and Socio are using an accessibility overlay, powered by Accessibe. But that’s all it is. It’s an automated overlay. That’s just taking information from the platform. If you’ve used Google Translate to translate a German website into English, it might capture 80% of the platform, but you’re going to see some things on the website that didn’t get translated. And that’s the exact same thing with accessibility overlays. It’ll work for some, but it’s not going to work for all.”
“How did you evaluate pricing? Features are, but most planners just want to know what’s the difference in cost,” says Will.
“Price is definitely a consideration. If your platform is amazing and no one can buy it, then it’s not going to work for anybody,” says Kyle. “On our list of top event platforms of 2022, you’re going to see a platform that fits your budget, whatever it is, large or small. But pricing didn’t necessarily come into the score because we still want you to be able to evaluate the technology yourself. And even if you can’t afford it today, that doesn’t mean that you don’t want to consider it as an investment next year.”
“Platform prices are changing every day,” he adds. “Industry reports might tell you what the price is, but by the time that the report comes out, the price might’ve changed already. That’s what Endless Events is here for: we help you conduct those demos and make the process simpler. So you’re not having to conduct 20 different comparisons. We’ll work with your budget and help you expand your budget over time.”
Here Are The Top 5 Event Platforms In 2022!
And now to the most exciting part of the episode: going over the top 5 event platforms on the list! What makes a platform a truly top event platform? It’s not just the features themselves, but how much they’re actually delivering on it.
“That’s where we really found a really big value with CrowdComms,” says Kyle. “They haven’t been doing a ton of marketing, but their clients stick with them. Because they offer that flexibility: you’re molding your event platform to this format. With CrowdComms, you can pick a couple of different templates and highlight what’s most important to you.”
“Number four was Hubilo. They are leading the industry. As far as interface design, they’re the most modern. They have two different toolbars: one at the top and one at the side. The top one will take you to the core features. And then the one on the side is following you along through the entire event. It allows for a lot of discovery. Also, it’s one of the best platforms that offer sponsorship opportunities, ad placements. You can highlight something on any page, which is something we liked a lot. And definitely one of the leaders, as far as event security goes. They offer single sign-on, for example.”
The Winners: Swapcard, Socio, & Pheedloop!
The bronze medal goes to Swapcard, “one of the fastest-growing companies in the pandemic”, as Will puts it. “The SXSW hosted a hybrid event last year inside of Swapcard,” says Kyle. “Many clients use it because it offers that customization and the menu that a lot of clients are looking for. Where they’re really revolutionizing their technology is the exhibitor experience. You’re able to schedule meetings easily with exhibitors or sponsors, you can showcase their products and highlight their services. They’re also focusing a lot on building out the community model moving forward as well.”
On to the silver. “You could not find a more easy-to-use platform than Socio. The buttons are clear and the navigation is easy. And we believe that the Cisco acquisition of Socio is really going to add that power it needs to be a true leader in the event industry. They’ve most recently launched their onsite features, being able to offer onsite check-in and badge printing. You can design the badges even inside the platform. So just another one of the all-in-one solutions. Also, it is offering accessibility enhancements for those that do need additional features.”
And finally, the top event platform to use in 2022 is Pheedloop! “Pheedloop delivers on all aspects, it’s an all-in-one solution. If you’re looking for something to reconstruct your event format, you need registration, on-site attendance tracking, and a simple mobile app experience that’s where Pheedloop comes into play. They offer a native built-in floor plan builder so you can actually lay out your floor plan for the trade show right in there. They’re key leaders in accessibility and why they reached number one this year. They also offer native streaming with Meet & Stream,” says Kyle.
365 Community Is The Future!
Kyle gives one final piece of advice on the future of event technology. “Start thinking about what it would be like to have a 365 community. It’s going to take some convincing to your marketing team for you to be able to move a 365 community forward. And we believe that the 365 community is going to make the cost of acquisition for each of those individual attendees much lower. If you’re just keeping your attendees in the same place, you can more easily market your future events. You can tie in your webinars to your virtual events, to your hybrid events, and really extend the storyline for all of your stakeholders. So they’re not only saying ‘see you next year’ and that’s the end of their participation for the year. I think that’s going to make any of your attendees more involved with your organization if you can keep them involved too, but it takes a team to keep a community going.”
And last but not least, he encourages listeners to reach out. “If you’re looking to get into any of this new event technology, reach out to Endless Events. We’ll let you know where things are headed. We want to help you understand event platforms.”