Pricing transparency in event technology companies is lacking, to say the least. Many event platforms offer no pricing structures at all while others only give ballpark estimates. As a recent Skift Meetings article points out, event planners often have no time or energy to sit through long demos and discuss pricing for weeks. But as Will and Brandt point out in this episode, transparency is not easy to achieve in the world of SaaS and event technology. Costs depend on the size of the event and the features planners want to implement.
Our dynamic duo has talked about transparency in the event industry before, but not about the event technology space specifically.
If you need a transparent comparison of top event platform providers, make sure to check out Endless’ transparent 100 Top Event Platforms spreadsheet where you can compare companies based on pricing, features, and more. And now, without further ado, here is the Event Tech Podcast!
Pricing Transparency in Event Technology Companies
Transparency of pricing is not a foreign topic to the event professionals. “The pricing pages of event technology companies typically have several buckets. One for 50-100 attendees, another for 100-500, and over 500, it says ‘call us’, for example,” says Brandt.
Will points out that a lack of pricing transparency is a challenge in the entire SaaS and technology sector, not just event tech. “Even Hubspot that otherwise has transparent pricing says to call them when you reach enterprise level. There’s a lot of custom work involved and a big budget to spend. And that’s what event planners worry about: am I getting the same price that someone with the exact same style of event is getting down the street?”
When the pandemic hit in early 2020, event technology companies wildly varied in pricing. Since then, pricing is a bit more predictable. “Rather than scaling too fast, event platform companies increased their prices to ludicrous heights of $250,000 for a multiple-day online event with several thousand attendees,” says Will.
Pricing Is Complex & Transparency Is Elusive
Then, Will shares his own dream of having a pricing page. “I wanted Endless to be like a SaaS company when it comes to pricing transparency; to have several packages and a call to action to call us for anything bigger. That way, people would have an idea about how much it costs to work with us. Is it $5,000 or a million?”
“It worked really well for us and brought in qualified leads. But I recently put the pricing page down because Endless Events has so many services. We do hybrid events, production, strategy, management, branding, and so on.”
Will believes in pricing transparency, but it is clearly a complex topic. “You need to talk to a salesperson because they can sell better than a website. They can hear your hesitations, offer solutions on the spot, and understand more about your event. You don’t get that on a pricing page on a website.”
“This is a problem we’ve seen in AV for decades,” says Brandt. “You can’t just walk into a hotel and ask how much your event cost. There are subtle differences between 100 and 2000 attendees – and the same goes for AV. Just like equipment has started to become commoditized, people want software solutions to be commoditized, too.”
Increasing Pricing Transparency In The Event Tech Sector
In Brandt’s opinion, companies should ride the line between no transparent pricing and an exact pricing sheet. “Divide events by size (small, medium, large) and give pricing for each. Skift Meetings recently released their Virtual Event Tech Guide 2022. They explain that you should divide events by size and features (basic versus advanced). Then, event planners can start to get a sense of what the event technology company’s pricing is.”
Train Your Sales Representatives!
“SaaS companies are structured very similar to one another,” says Will. “When you’re first calling a company or submitting a request on a website, you’re getting contacted by a sales development representative. Their job is to qualify you, to make sure you have budget authority and timing. Then, you are handed over to a sales person and account executive who will build your proposal.”
“A big challenge is that SDRs are usually not given a ton of information because their job is to know enough about the product to get you excited and curious. What ends up happening is that SDRs do not know how to answer questions during discovery calls because their sole job is to make sure you are qualified. What companies need to do to improve pricing transparency, therefore, is to educate SDRs to know as much as possible.”
“And be transparent about the process with your prospective clients,” adds Brandt. “Tell them that first, we will hop on a call and give you a quick demo of the event platform. It won’t be about pricing because we want to know more about you first. Be honest and keep those calls as short as possible. Do not waste their time.”
“The more information you come with, the better. One of my favorite things in the AV world used to be comparing quotes apples to apples. I would ask clients to give me the quote from last year and I will do a comparison and walk them through it. But in the event technology world, different things are described differently by different companies. One might call it event gamification, others might call it audience engagement features.”
Dear Clients, Transparency Goes Both Ways
Finally, Will and Brandt say that pricing transparency goes both ways. “Event planners often do not want to share their budgets in case the company is not trustworthy and they worry they will use their entire budgets. But some companies won’t do that. At Endless, we always ask to give us the budget and how much you want to spend because we can’t help you otherwise. We can look up pictures from your past conferences and get some ideas there. But if you don’t share your pricing and we don’t know who you are, it can also take more time for us to sus it out, which takes more time. It can become an almost adversarial relationship rather than a partnership based on trust,” explains Will.
But it’s understandable event planners are hesitant to show all their cards. “I’ll usually give a lower bid than my actual budget is. That way, they can know what ballpark we are in and I can hope to get the job done for less than what my entire budget is,” says Brandt.
And last but not least, Will wants the audience to remember that prices and costs are on the rise. “There’s recession and inflation – make sure your financial models reflect that. You need to budget more for your upcoming events. Please, be prepared for that.”