Event Marketing & Registration Software:
Should You Pay Per User or Per Registration?

tl;dr

Per registration pricing is more cost effective if you run fewer events, while per user pricing makes more fiscal sense at a higher volume. The exact number where per-user pricing takes the lead will change from provider to provider, but Swoogo, for example, becomes more cost effective than per-registration platforms like cvent and Aventri at about 800 registrations annually*, whether that’s one big event or 80 small ones over the course of the year.

Need a little more info? Read on, my friend. Thinking “damn, that actually sounds like a good deal?”

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Per user vs. per registration: wTF does that even mean?

Event marketing and registration software solutions are divided into two basic pricing models: volume and subscription. While the volume based system— charging per event or per registration— has long been the norm in the events industry, software in general is more often sold on a subscription (user-based) basis.

Think of it this way: It’s the year 2000. Faith Hill’s “Breathe” is at the top of the charts. Everyone’s worried about Mad Cow Disease. Every time you connect to the Internet you hear “eeeeeeeee ooo SCCRRREEEEEEEEE eee ooo oooo SCREEEEEEEEEEEEE.” But hey, speaking of accessing the web: you paid for an AOL disc once, and now you’re set.

You don’t need to pay more every time you go online or every time you send an email. That’s software subscription pricing, and outside of the events world it’s been pretty much standard since low-rise jeans were painfully “in.” In the events industry we often call this as per-user or user-based pricing: that is, the number of people on your team who will be using the software, whether that’s just you or you and some of your colleagues.

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So which one’s better?

For many event marketers, subscription-based event software pricing makes a lot more fiscal sense, but that’s not to say there aren’t some scenarios where the OG price model isn’t still a good option.

Stated simply, volume pricing wins when you have fewer events or registrants, where subscription-based pricing is better if you deal with higher numbers.

There is one situation where this doesn’t apply: if your events are free for your attendees, and if you don’t need any advanced capabilities (like registrant data tracking and analytics, branded event pages, email marketing, etc. etc.).

In that case, you may be better off using a simple ticketing tool, like eventbrite. Those types of services won’t charge you to use them if you’re not collecting payments. That being said, most corporations, media companies, and agencies need to be able to track their registrant data, build registration sites, send emails, etc. etc.— and a ticketing tool just won’t cut it. So back to the main question:

 
 

How many events do you run, and how many people come to them?

This goes back to the chart above: while subscription (or user)-based prices don’t go down when you run more events, they do stay the same, in contrast to volume (per registration or per event) pricing, which becomes significantly more expensive at a certain point.

While we’d love to be able to give you the exact magic number where volume pricing becomes more expensive than subscription pricing, unfortunately there is no universal truth. There are many different solutions available with a lot of different prices, so ultimately this depends on which exact solutions you’re comparing. We can, however, give you an estimate using ourselves as an example.

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Swoogo vs. volume pricing

At Swoogo we know we become more cost-effective than solutions with volume-based pricing models, like cvent or Aventri (etouches), at around 800 registrations annually,* whether that’s one big event or 80 tiny ones over the course of the year.

Of course, this number can change based on how many of your team members need to use the software and to what extent. So what does that really boil down to?

When it comes to finding the best price in event registration and marketing software, you have to chat with sales. We know, we know— it’s tough to commit to a zillion calls. Unfortunately most products don’t list their pricing directly on their website, which makes it impossible to know exactly what you’ll pay (we do list ours, so feel free to check it out here).

Which brings us to our next (and last) point:

volume-based pricing can be unpredictable

Unless you know the exact number of events you’ll run this year and the exact number of people who are going to register for them, figuring out your annual total for a volume-based event software solution is a little… iffy.

Even if you’re pretty clear on these numbers, volume-based pricing models can turn your brilliant event marketing plan into a little bit of a net-neutral situation. Let’s say you do a great job of advertising your events and more people want to come— you end up footing a big bill for it. And say your events go so well your boss wants you to run more of them— you have to be prepared to cough up a bigger check.

Subscription-based pricing takes out a lot of the guesswork, which can make it a better choice for some budget-conscious corporations even if it’s a little more expensive. It means your success doesn’t have to make you shudder, and hey, we get it: having a firm budget is a big deal.

Hopefully this took some of the guesswork out of your event software selection, too. Thanks for sticking with us, and happy shopping!