Welcome to the Virtual Event Platform Review Series where we take a look at a major product on the market and share what there is to like, what is not so great and why it might be right for you (or not). Each platform is given a rating in four categories:
The final score is the average of the ratings, plus our thoughts on what types of events the platform could be a good fit for.
In this article, we review the pros and cons of one of the largest players in the virtual event market: Bizzabo.
Pros: Bizzabo has a large staff and ample event coordination experience. Considering the company’s growing team and resource base, it’s safe to say Bizzabo’s event organizers have seen it all. In fact, if you’re interested in learning best practices for event management, you can take one of Bizzabo’s online certification or onsite training courses to amp up your event planning skills. Excellent customer service is one of Bizzabo’s core values — promoting an average response time of 1.7 hours and a 99% guaranteed uptime. Plus, Bizzabo’s production teams have received high marks on G2. With Bizzabo, event organizers have time to focus on promoting and engaging with their event attendees while Bizzabo’s Services team deploy the event site.
Cons: As all event organizers know, something is bound to go wrong. While a 1.7 hour average response time is great for planning an event, it can be paralyzing during a live event when attendees are voicing concerns and/or something is not working. In addition to having a large, but not immediately available, team of Bizzabo support staff, there are options to learn the ins and outs of the platform. From an organizer’s standpoint, this option reflects on the support Bizzabo is expecting to provide — as little as possible. Bizzabo encourages event organizers to take it upon themselves to learn (and prepare to use) the platform, rather than providing real-time coaching and assistance.
Pros: Bizzabo has spent a significant amount of time and resources researching what virtual event attendees want out of a conference and how to create a meaningful attendee experience. Using an empathy-based approach to event organization, the attendee experience is carefully considered throughout the planning process. Plus, Bizzabo’s website offers various support and troubleshooting guides that help answer common questions or issues — including questions about which devices and browsers are supported. The UI is easy to navigate, and the ability to network and connect with other attendees through chat solutions help attendees actively engage in the event and presentations.
Cons: If attendees are looking for additional conference benefits (e.g., app integration and unique ways to connect), Bizzabo does not offer those solutions. The focal point is almost exclusively split between presentations and chat boxes. If watching the presentation and communicating via chat doesn’t spark excitement, there is little left to keep attendees interested. The production value of the sessions consumes the Bizzabo Support team’s focus, so attendees using Bizzabo may feel like they’re attending a webinar more than an interactive event.
Pros: Bizzabo has carefully considered the needs speakers may have for a wide range of events. Customizations including the ability to record sessions by their duration, the option to download section recordings/playlists and the use of integrated chat features come standard with the platform. These customizations allow speakers to create event experiences that are more specific to their talk topics, rather than a “one size fits all” approach for the entire conference. This encourages creative presentation types — think interactive discussions, real-time feedback on the audience’s reactions and live responses — which results in a more engaged audience. The speaker backend of the platform is relatively straightforward to use. Plus, the speaker has the controls to run the session from start to finish.
Cons: The success of a session is totally reliant on the speaker. The speaker, who is juggling the nerves of presenting AND making sure the session kicks off without a hitch, is under a lot of pressure. There are options to pass some tasks off to a moderator, but the intention is to have the speaker in control of their session. This includes recording, setting a playlist of materials, checking the chat room and networking with attendees and fellow speakers. Despite the straight forward nature of the speaker backend, there are a lot of moving parts that leave too much room for human error.
Pros: The data behind the benefits of sponsoring an event on Bizzabo is unprecedented. It’s simple to track reach, engagement and ROI on sponsorship levels of any variety. As the world begins to reopen, there are even options for sponsoring hybrid events. This data helps solidify new sponsorships for event organizers. In addition to data tracking, there are many branding opportunities available for sponsors including branded landing pages, email customizations and sponsor profiles. Depending on the event organizers’ preferences, sponsor ads can also be shown alongside the main presentations.
Cons: There are numerous reviews citing Bizzabo’s lack of consistent branding capabilities (despite promoting this is an option), lack of sponsor engagement updates, templatized sponsorship abilities and non-intuitive UI for engaging specifically with sponsors rather than just attendees. The mismatch between what is promised and what is delivered can prevent sponsors from coming back year after year. Plus, as referenced in LoudSwarm by Six Feet Up’s blog, virtual “booths” and traditional sponsorship opportunities that Bizzabo offers don’t tend to ignite engagement between attendees and sponsors.
Bizzabo is a well-established virtual event platform featuring a large support staff and easy to use UI for both organizers and attendees. However, the platform relies on speakers who are extremely comfortable with the platform and organizers who want to take matters into their own hands — learning the ins and outs of the platform.
Overall, Bizzabo is a platform that requires a lot of assistance and help from the Bizzabo team and — budget allowing — an outside production company to match the quality level Bizzabo is expecting events on their platform to have.
Bizzabo is a good fit for…
Event Size: 1,000+ attendees
Event Type(s): Tech conferences, Large corporate meetings, Workshops, Events with a tech-savvy audience
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