With this week’s announcement that Meetup.com was changing its pricing policy, many meetup organizers are looking for alternatives to using Meetup.com for their event registration.
The news of the pricing change spread quickly among meetup organizers on Twitter.
While the decrease in cost to organizers at $24/year was welcomed, the $2.00 fee for attendees was not.
In the past, meetup organizers could create free events on Meetup.com or charge a fee; money taken in would go to the organizers.
Which is what many meetups groups do to cover the cost of Meetup.com fees (just under $200 U.S. dollars a year) and offer food and refreshments.
With the new policy, the required $2.00 fee for each attendee goes directly to Meetup.
Meetup explained in their message that the $2.00 fee could be paid by attendees or organizers could cover the fee.
According to their message, Meetup wanted to spread the cost of an event between the organizer and the attendee.
However, there is no current option in the new pricing policy for organizers who want to charge fees beyond the $2.00 registration fee. Meetup said that feature will be coming in the future.
The new pricing policy would become effective in late October 2019.
What I Learned
It seems Meetup.com quickly noticed the frustration and exasperation from event organizers.
Within a day, they updated their announcement page to say that only members of select groups would be charged the small fee to attend events.
I also discovered that the new pricing policy doesn’t affect non-profit groups or Pro Networks.
Which means WordPress meetup groups under the WordPress official Meetup account, which is a Pro plan on Meetup, are not affected by the pricing change.
Andrea Middleton had a busy day on Twitter answering questions from concerned WordPress meetup organizers.
This change will *not* affect groups that are part of the WordPress chapter: https://t.co/B4C43mdnoo
If a WordPress meetup group isn’t in the WordPress chapter and wants to know more about joining, check out this page: https://t.co/IycNaH8xyd
Application link at the bottom!
— Andrea Middleton (@andmiddleton) October 14, 2019
Event Registration Alternatives
If you’re frustrated with Meetup.com’s pricing policy change and the possibility it may affect your meetup group in the future, there are a lot of event registration alternatives to consider.
For me, two options rose to the top of my event registration list:
- Get Together
A long-time provider of event registration services, Eventbrite is well-known for its event management and ticketing services.
I’ve used it for years for the Accessibility Summit online conferences I hosted with the University of Michigan and found it easy to use.
Other than a few hiccups recently where I didn’t receive email notification of someone registering for an event, Eventbrite has been a reliable event registration site for events I host.
What I like about Eventbrite:
- Familiar to people
- Discoverability, allows people to find upcoming events by topic or geographic area
- Marketing features
- Desktop and mobile versions that work for organizers and attendees (unlike the clumsy-for-me Meetup.com app)
- Ability to use HTML to create event information, something Meetup.com took away in their last design
- Free tickets are free, there’s no charge for attendees
- Design pages for your events
- Marketing reports, ticket sales reports, integration with other platforms
- Built-in payment processing
- Ability to charge whatever fee you want (though there is a processing fee per ticket)
I think the biggest advantage Eventbrite has over other event registration alternatives is that people are familiar with it. They likely have used it to register for an event.
Is it ideal for meetup groups? Depends on what you need.
If you’re looking for a service to provide discussion area, photo uploads of the event, or list of members available to be seen by everyone in your meetup group, Eventbrite is not for you.
But if you’re looking for event registration that is easy to set up, free, and offers customization options as well as reporting, Eventbrite is worth considering.
Get Together offers event registration and promotion features geared toward technology groups as well as any type of meetup group.
Their goal is to be feature-competitive with Meetup.com and provide a cost-effective hosting for FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) communities.
Get Together is small, but open to recommendations for added features.
When I asked about search by topic, Michael Hall (one of the developers working on Get Together) replied that it’s on their list.
What I like about Get Together:
- Free to use for both organizers and attendees
- Similar look and feel to how Meetup displays events
- Features similar to Meetup.com, with more features planned for the future
- Open source
- Markdown support makes it easy to format your event
- iCal support
It doesn’t have discussion groups, photo sharing, or mailing list from what I’ve seen on the site.
However, as open source software, I wouldn’t be surprised to find these features will be added to Get Together in the future.
Especially given the number of technology meetup organizers I’ve noticed on Twitter who announced this week they’re moving groups to Get Together.
How Does the Change Affect Groups I Organize?
Of the three groups where I’m an organizer/co-organizer, two of the groups use Meetup.com for event registration.
When I started the West Metro Detroit WordPress group in early 2018, I deliberately chose not to use Meetup.com for event registration. Rather, I opted for Eventbrite.
Because I was so frustrated with the recent Meetup.com design that removed basic usability and accessibility features for creating events.
Despite numerous requests for improvements, Meetup.com responded that the new design was better for everyone.
I took my event registration elsewhere.
Meetup.com has been the go-to site for meetup organizers for years.
When it first launched, it offered a free (and later, low cost) option for meetup organizers who in the past had to cobble together event registration, mailing list, discussion, and photo sites to promote their meetup events.
Personally, I was happy to not do all that work!
But with this latest announcement, my recommendation is for meetup organizers to look elsewhere for the event manager.
Eventbrite and Get Together are two excellent choices, depending on your goals.
Have you found another event manager for your meetup group? Share what you’re using or plan to use in the comments.