It wasn’t too long ago when PheedLoop’s only real competitor was Cvent, but in recent times the tables seem to have flipped dramatically. Companies like Cvent are unheard of in our conversations with prospects, and we often hear people asking us how we’re different from webinar platforms like Zoom, virtual event platforms like Hopin, and smaller tools like Remo. There’s another category of platforms that we’re compared to as well, which are mobile event app companies turned virtual/hybrid event platforms (e.g. Whova, EventMobi, etc.). While they’re decent mobile apps, because they're rejigged versions of old products, PheedLoop’s purpose-built products excel in numerous ways - more on this below.
It’s amusing at times for us because there are such fundamental and massive differences between PheedLoop and most platforms we’re compared to these days. The platforms we’re compared to are generally excellent ones, the companies backing them are run by great people (most of whom we know personally), and countless good events run on them. Our goal at PheedLoop, though, is to power great events, not just good ones.
We can understand the confusion given how much events have changed over the past many months, how many new players have entered the scene, and how many old players have rebranded their products.
In this post, we bring some key differences to the forefront to better help you understand what PheedLoop is and why it’s valuable. At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is that PheedLoop is an event management platform, so let’s start with that!
Although the past few months have turned every tech company that had anything to do with events into a virtual event tech company, we don’t classify ourselves as such.
PheedLoop, since 2015, has been an all-in-one event management platform and that’s where it excels. Sure, it has an incredibly powerful and purpose-built virtual event side to it, but for years it has been powering everything from mobile event apps, ticketing, and on-site badge printing for attendees, to abstract management for speakers and contracts and interactive floor plans for exhibitors. These small examples, and countless more, are non-trivial feature sets that most events operating at scale require. Some are less relevant while the world is forced to be fully virtualized, but PheedLoop at its core is a platform that serves the full range of needs an event may have and is pre-built for hybrid events.
What this means is that you can use PheedLoop, in the truest sense, for all your virtual, live, and hybrid event needs. Keep costs centralized and predictable, keep data synchronized and clean, and focus on your events instead of gluing together a handful of different tools or settling for one-trick ponies. As a result, we generally suggest PheedLoop as a suitable platform for events with 100 people or more in attendance.
One of the challenges event managers run into, especially over the last few months, is buying into platforms that are repackaged to serve the industry’s most immediate needs and ending up with a half-baked solution. The best example of this is mobile event app companies which have repackaged their solutions as virtual event or event management platforms. Be cautious of these, as there are many of them out there.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this approach, and it’s actually passable for events with extremely basic needs. The problem is that the event tech companies which have taken this approach have, unfortunately, taken the shortest possible path to sell products that normally require significant research and development. We’ve looked at them all, and we’ve had many customers come to us after subpar experiences explaining exactly this issue.
Virtual event attendees are extremely different from on-site attendees. They multitask, they have shorter attention spans, attend from different countries with different languages, and spend less. Plus, 94% of them use desktops or laptops over phones, compared to 7% for on-site attendees. There are massive behavioral differences at play here.
So if the solution you’re looking at has, for example, simply grafted on third-party streaming and video calling solutions, still offers lists of exhibitors and sponsors instead of interactive views, nests endless iframes, and can’t fully translate their interface into multiple languages for a global audience, be very wary. The attendee experience, while functional, will feel low quality and fragmented. It’ll also be difficult for you to manage multiple different technologies to accomplish a single task as those platforms rely heavily on integrations.
At PheedLoop, we take a very different approach. We invest a lot in developing new, proprietary, user experience driven technologies. Take virtual events for example. The systems you see and use for PheedLoop never existed before. We didn’t take a single line of code from our other products, because we know the experience is different for virtual attendees. We studied the needs of virtual attendees, speakers, exhibitors, sponsors, and event managers, and developed purpose-built solutions on top of our core platform. Everything from virtual networking tools built for multitasking and our proprietary Meet & Stream system, to virtual exhibiting in 3D environments, multi-language support (beyond captions) for global audiences, and unique accessibility features for modern events.
Pricing event technology in our industry is, simply put, archaic. In an era where buying software is supposed to be competitive, transparent, and simple where the buyer is in control, our industry still clings to quote-based pricing, often with multi-year commitments, and high costs both upfront and in perpetuity.
We were caught in this same mess just over 12 months ago, but we broke free with a new pricing model. Now, our pricing model is 100% transparent, pay-as-you-go, and a lot more affordable. More often than not, prospects ask us to explain what the catch is to them on calls when most companies are quoting them over $10,000 or $20,000, but PheedLoop comes in at less than $2,500 with more features and a better platform (for events with a few hundred people).
Our pricing goes as low as $1 per user per module, and event managers can purchase credits themselves whenever they need to at our publicly stated rates.
It’s affordable, it’s predictable, it's pay-as-you-go. If it’s too expensive, you can filter PheedLoop out pretty fast instead of having to sit through an hour-long sales call and fight countless spam email/call follow-ups before getting to the price or simply saying "No!"
We know we’re patting ourselves on the back pretty hard here, but that is the point of this article and we stand by our claims. So much so that if you find a comparable platform at a lower price, we’ll beat the price by at least 10%.
Too many event tech platforms solely focus on attendees and sell their platforms by emphasizing primarily attendee facing features. The biggest missed opportunity here is that attendees are only one of many stakeholders, albeit arguably the most important ones. When we started PheedLoop many years back, an idea we believed in then and today is that event managers need to be event managers, not event micromanagers.
7/8th of an iceberg is hidden under the water - the attendee experience is only the tip of the iceberg which everyone sees. The majority of the challenge of running an event, be it virtual, on-site, or both, is all the work required behind the scenes.
Managing exhibitors, speakers, sponsors, and planning teams. Making sure payments are received on time, attendee lists are updated, communications are sent out, refunds are issued where due, every sponsor logo is perfect, speakers are prepared, all your public-facing systems are synced, the list goes on and on.
Our strategy has always been to decentralize event management. PheedLoop offers several portals for each of your stakeholders where they can manage their own applications, payments, contracts, profiles, graphics, files, staff, and more. You can even create tasks that get auto-assigned with auto-reminders, notifying you when your stakeholders are completing them behind the scenes. All the changes you and your stakeholders are making are automatically updating all your portals, from your websites and apps, to virtual portals and PDF guides. Although not every event needs every feature, saving even a few days of work is often a game changer for most event planners and a massive return on investment on its own.
Starting with our CEO (who spends the majority of his day coding alongside our engineers), PheedLoop is a team made largely of engineers. We’re a tech company in every way we can be - product comes first before sales, marketing, and pretty much everything else. Our customers often tell us that the single most important reason they stick with PheedLoop is our relentless product innovation.
If you’re considering PheedLoop, we encourage you to read through more of our blog. You’ll notice that we put out at least one new big feature every week, and countless smaller ones. We are a company optimized for developing new technology, and our inspiration comes entirely from our customers. We have a strong relationship with our customers when it comes to improving the platform.
When we started PheedLoop over 6 years ago, we committed to developing at least one new feature every week. We’ve done that, and much more. We love building new systems that help event managers do their jobs better and give them more value constantly.
When we talk about accessibility, we are usually referring to two key areas. The first being ensuring PheedLoop is as accessible as possible for those with disabilities (beyond the minimum requirements), and the second being ensuring PheedLoop is accessible to a global audience. Both of these are especially important for virtual events, as the tech platform is now the venue, and events are open to global audiences.
PheedLoop takes WCAG, ADA, and AODA compliance extremely seriously. We’ve invested heavily and continue to do so to a greater degree to make PheedLoop as accessible as possible. Most recently, we integrated an AI-powered accessibility tool that offers a wide range of options to make events more accessible for those with disabilities the moment they login. We know that our efforts aren’t enough though, and although we may be one of the better platforms for accessibility, we’re far from being perfect. Know that accessibility is a priority, and we are constantly working to improve.
PheedLoop also takes the international aspect of modern events extremely seriously. We support 12 languages out of the box and automatic detection and adapting to all timezones. We also offer the ability for you to create custom translations, and implement live captions in over 20 languages. PheedLoop’s multi-language features have helped countless events go global. It’s hard to believe the industry standard to support multiple languages is creating multiple events, which inevitably leads to incredibly fragmented experiences for attendees and expensive investments for planners.
Many event technology platforms look great on the surface, but as soon as you start peeling back the layers, it becomes apparent that the products aren’t as well integrated, as robust, or as valuable as they seemed during tech demos. Eventually, you end up needing to combine several tools together plus a lot of manual work. Platforms marketed as all-in-one event management aren’t actually so.
At PheedLoop, we realize that events are more complex than just streaming some content, buying tickets, seeing a basic list of sponsors, etc.
We’ve thoughtfully developed a lot of products to solve real challenges event managers face. Even better? We run regular large scale events ourselves on the PheedLoop platform so we’re always giving customers a chance to experience live events, and giving ourselves a chance to see how the platform can perform better. Here are just a few examples of features that solve real problems:
These are just some micro examples of thoughtful features we’ve implemented based on years of running our events with PheedLoop, working extremely closely with customers, and being passionate about a platform that solves detailed problems. It may turn out you need only a few of our niche features, but when you do, you’ll be glad they’re there and battle-tested.
No company is ever going to tell you that they don’t provide options for sponsorship, but the devil’s really in the details.
What is absolutely crucial for events (virtual, live, or hybrid) is a variety of sponsorship opportunities that allow for three key things: differentiation, volume, and exposure.
Most platforms rely on lists of sponsors or exhibitors as their primary means of sponsorship options, which is simply not beneficial for any brand that is on page two of that list. As the “old” saying goes, the best place to hide a dead body is on page two of Google’s search results.
PheedLoop provides over 20 unique opportunities to promote sponsors out of the box, plus even more if you take full advantage of PheedLoop’s customization options. Booths aren’t just in a list, they’re on an interactive 3D floor plan. Exhibitor and sponsor profiles aren’t just a webpage, they’re interactive and packed with real-time private and group audio, video, and text communication systems. There are over 15 ways to uniquely present sponsor logos and brands built-in to PheedLoop, and new options coming out all the time. The best part is that as a fully integrated system, you often don’t have to do more than check a box to promote a sponsor and present them in a session, exhibit hall, or banner.
PheedLoop offers sponsor and exhibitor specific training, and provides them with their own private portals where they can fully manage the way their brands are presented. From the graphics and text, to meeting links and videos. Exhibitors and sponsors get instant access to lead data and visitor data, so that they can autonomously make smart decisions.
A key priority for PheedLoop is helping events successfully monetize their efforts. If a platform offers limited and weak options for sponsors and exhibitors, the ability for you to create differentiation in opportunities that you can upsell, and valuable opportunities in general, is significantly minimized.
Just like sponsorship, every company is going to tell you that networking is important to them. However, most platforms will not go further than allowing private text messaging and at best one-on-one video chatting (often not even their own tech) which may cost extra. There are some platforms out there that are specifically designed for networking, and they’re great. Examples include platforms like Remo and Gather. The issue ends up becoming that the types of events that choose PheedLoop typically need more than a cute networking interface, and they want to avoid having to invest in multiple platforms and trying to string them together.
PheedLoop has a wide array of networking options, and even more on the way. For virtual events in particular, networking is built upon a product we created called PheedLoop Meet, which allows for unlimited one-on-one and group audio/video/screen share calls, as well as text chatting. Many platforms will provide at least a subset of what PheedLoop Meet provides, typically unable to provide group video functionality, but the thing is, just having a tool like PheedLoop Meet isn’t enough.
What you really want is a platform that is designed to create opportunities for attendees to meet. Without that, no matter how great your technology is including PheedLoop’s, no one is going to use it effectively. Networking is a particularly important challenge for virtual events, naturally, so we’ll focus on our approach to networking for them. There are five key pillars that our networking experience is built upon:
Networking is an activity that can’t be delayed. When someone wants to talk, they should be able to talk. PheedLoop encourages a constant flow of communication by taking a Facebook-like approach, allowing attendees to connect with each other at any time through an always-on private chat widget. PheedLoop’s intelligent browser-based push notification system also helps attendees connect even when they are not actively engaged in the event (which is quite common for virtual events).
The most important thing is helping attendees find other attendees to connect with. In PheedLoop, attendees always know who else is in the same location as them, in real-time, as a result of our presence monitoring features. Whether you’re in a lobby, a session, at a booth, or in a group, you can always immediately see who is there with you at any given moment. Oftentimes, you may share similar interests, and we see the most connections being formed at virtual events due to our presence tracking. The equivalent of bumping into someone in the hallway at a venue.
PheedLoop Meet shines when it comes to helping attendees connect face-to-face, even if they are remote. Every interaction between individuals or groups of attendees is pushed through PheedLoop Meet, which encourages attendees to do things like turn on their videos, share screens, and just connect in a more human way at every turn. It’s so important that virtual event planners choose a platform that ensures face-to-face interaction is seamless.
This is something we got terribly wrong when virtual events first became very important, and many other platforms are still struggling with. It harkens back to what we mentioned in the second point in this article about purpose-built technology. For companies that adapted their platforms from in-person event solutions to virtual ones, they also carry the debt of assuming virtual attendees behave the same way as in-person ones. Although we didn’t adapt our platform like most and built a new one entirely, we did unintentionally incur debt not with tech, but ideas. In particular, how attendees like to connect.
On-site, connecting with the occasional asynchronous text message is fine, most people are only doing one thing at a time. Event technology doesn’t need to do more on-site because networking happens physically more than digitally. Virtually, however, attendees want to be able to do all the things all the time, in particular, network. We realized this pretty quickly, and totally rebuilt the way networking works in PheedLoop to make it fully capable of multitasking. No matter what platform you choose, make sure you ensure that attendees can easily do more than one thing at a time, trust us on this one, we learned it the hard way.
Networking between two individuals is easy and predictable to implement, which is why most event platforms rely on it. We’ve found that 75% of connections are forged not in one-to-one interactions, or one-to-many interactions (e.g. sessions), but in many-to-many interactions as groups. We built PheedLoop Meet, the system which powers all our networking features, to support simple and quick group meetings over video, audio, and text. You’ll find that at least half of your attendees want to meet other people, but they prefer to start as passive observers first. One-on-one networking through speed dating or proactive outreach is fine for Type A personalities, but that’s only half your audience.
Depending on when you’re reading this post, you’ll find the value of investing in a hybrid ready platform more or less valuable. Virtual events are all the rage right now, and they likely will continue to play a significant role indefinitely. The same way most event technology platforms repackaged and re-branded themselves as virtual event platforms in 2020, you can be sure they’ll all do that this coming year and the next as hybrid event platforms.
The key difference between PheedLoop and many of the newer companies which may market themselves as hybrid event platforms is that PheedLoop has always powered hybrid events, and not just with mobile apps. Our virtual event tools didn’t cannibalize our core platform - they added on to it.
Our company, our team, and our technology have been used for years on the show floor in physical venues worldwide. PheedLoop’s powerful mobile event app, on-site/pre-event badge printing, physical networking, check-in kiosks, and more are tangible experiences that are already part of the PheedLoop stack of technologies and services. Most of them are fully self-managed too.
We’re not going to be racing to build new technologies that help you manage exhibit floor plans or live stream sessions, all of this is built-in to PheedLoop. We are, however, racing to invent specific hybrid event technologies to help events invite attendees back on-site. From contact tracing APIs and screening surveys, to touchless check-in systems. PheedLoop is a hybrid events platform, and although its virtual technologies and developments have been at the forefront for the last few months, PheedLoop will really shine when you experience how synchronized, streamlined, and purpose-built all of its event technology already is for hybrid events.
The single most important thing for a hybrid event, from our experience, is that at all costs (figuratively and literally) you want to avoid planning two events. The experience needs to be unified, so that the costs, gains, management, and more are unified as well. PheedLoop’s technologies and products are already ready to go for hybrid events and play a major role in ensuring a unified experience for attendees, speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, and planners whether they’re virtual, on-site, or both.
PheedLoop is a powerful, feature-rich, purpose-built, and affordable platform. There are many options out there for you to choose from, and they’ll all likely help you produce a good event. Our goal is to help event planners plan great events at the lowest prices.
Hopin is a pricey and basic but well-built and incredibly popular virtual event platform, optimized primarily for the attendee experience and less for event management as a whole the way PheedLoop is. Even as a virtual event platform, it lacks the breadth of virtual event features PheedLoop offers. Obvious things like interactive 3D expo halls, stakeholder portals, presence tracking, etc. are simply missing. Their team is working hard to catch up on other fronts (take their recent acquisition of mobile event app company, Topi, as an example), but developing the breadth and depth of event technology PheedLoop offers takes a long time and it's not obvious they're even interested in doing so.
We’re excited to see their progress though, they’re a great brand, heavily funded, and have a lot of firepower behind them. We hope to see more affordable options from them as well (transparent pricing would be great!), any potential event management features, and more opportunities for sponsors and exhibitors. If you were previously using Zoom and looking for something better and for some reason PheedLoop doesn't match your needs, Hopin will absolutely be a great experience.
Zoom is a webinar platform, comparing it to PheedLoop is an apples to oranges type of comparison, so much so that Zoom actually integrates with PheedLoop for those who want to use it for streaming instead of our native options. We're allies, not competitors. Still, if you’re looking to run a webinar, Zoom is your best bet. If you’re still unsure how the two differ, it’s likely you don’t need a virtual event platform at all, and sticking to Zoom is a safe bet.
Remo is a cute networking tool, and a great one at that, but PheedLoop offers several built-in interactive video-based group networking features that essentially do what Remo does. For most events, it typically makes sense to limit the variety of tools they use. Remo does have some unique elements to it, and we have seen some events integrate Remo with PheedLoop.
Cvent is a close contender on the event management side, but the biggest challenge customers have expressed to us with Cvent is that their products are largely a result of years of acquisitions so the full experience doesn’t feel seamless, especially for the price. For most events, their products are prohibitively expensive, but that’s understandable as Cvent is a premium product. Cvent is the old guard in the industry, and we respect them greatly for opening up the event tech industry decades ago. We hope they are able to innovate faster, develop more integrated products (especially their own virtual event products), and lower their prices to make their products more accessible. They were once the leaders in our industry, and we believe they still have the potential to reclaim that spot.
Finally, there are countless mobile event app companies that currently market themselves as event management or virtual/hybrid event platforms (e.g. Whova, Eventmobi, etc.). They are undoubtedly excellent mobile event app companies originally designed for on-site events and will meet the minimum requirements for virtual events. But if you read the bulk of our article above, you’ll know how we and many customers ultimately feel about the performance and features offered by purpose-built solutions versus adding features on to older products and re-branding them. If you’re in the market for an event app, those companies are possibly decent choices, in addition to PheedLoop’s own event app called EventBuddy. If you’re looking for a purpose-built virtual/hybrid event experience or an all-in-one event management platform (while still costing less), PheedLoop is definitely your best bet.
As the world transitions to focusing on hybrid events, be prepared for another wave of re-branding efforts by event technology companies to focus on hybrid events the way they did for virtual events (ours included).
It’s important that you cut through the sales and marketing noise, and ask tough questions. Although we’d love for you to use PheedLoop, all the companies we’ve mentioned in this article work hard, have mostly happy customers, and have their own differentiation points.
At the end of the day, technology is only the means of delivering your event. It’s no surprise that in this article, our single goal was to convince you that PheedLoop is among the best options for your event (and we pulled no punches). Still, what really matters most is you. Your creativity, your experience, your effort. The best events we’ve seen are often the simplest and don’t need fancy technology to make them work well. It doesn’t even matter if the events are virtual or on-site. Your skill as an event planner trumps everything else, so we encourage you to focus as much as possible on that. If you’re stuck debating what platform to choose, just choose the one that’s simple, affordable, and user friendly. Event planners plan events, not event technology. Good luck, you’ve got this!
DISCLAIMER: Any details about other companies are based on information gathered from their using their products, marketing information, reading online reviews, and through conversations (with prospects or customers of theirs who have reached out to PheedLoop) as of January 1st, 2021. We've made an effort to be as accurate as possible, but products evolve and change all the time, so for the most current information about other companies, we strongly suggest reaching out to them to learn more.