The variety of pricing models associated with “software as a service (SaaS)” products can make apples-to-apples comparisons more like comparing apples to anvils: You don’t know what you’ll end up with, but expect a mushy mess. With online registration software, flat fees, per registration fees and per transaction fees – or a combination of all three – make price shopping a challenge.
Buyers need to know where to look for additional costs to properly calculate a true all-in price and make more accurate comparisons between vendors.
Your assessment starts with trying to attain the “base sticker” price. Estimate how many registrations you will use in a year, and apply that number consistently when gauging vendors that charge by the registration.
Some vendors strictly charge a flat fee per registration; others scale that fee downward based upon volume of registrations. Some charge a fee per registration as well as a set up fee, and at least one provider charges a fee per registration, a set up fee, and a fee per credit card transaction. Others charge a flat annual or monthly fee, regardless of your number of registrants.
You might want to have a calculator in hand.
For your estimate – say 1,500 reservations per year – Reg-O-Matic may charge a flat fee of $5,000, Event-O-Licious might charge $3.75 per registration, SignUpCow might charge $299 per month and Formie-Forms might charge $3 per registration plus a $1,000 set up fee. If all things were created equal pertaining to software functionality, you could use that calculator – with a little work and a Master’s in Mathematics – to find the best value.
However, all software is not equal, and there are “other” costs to factor in.
If your programs or events involve payment, for instance, you will have to navigate online payment setup, which typically follows one of two courses. In the first path, you use your existing merchant account or set one up (they charge a monthly fee) and integrate with one of the software provider’s payment-gateway options. When a registrant pays for a program or event, you get paid.
In path two, you use the software provider’s merchant account. They typically pass on the cost of that merchant account plus a mark up, and they send you your registrants’ payments every two weeks or monthly or whatever schedule they determine. This path has an added expense in terms of the mark-up on transaction fees and the delay in cash flow from registrants.
As mentioned above, some providers require “setup” fees or “annual” fees or “one-time” fees; each is typically an up-front payment designed to lock the buyer in.
A number of providers offer some version of tiered pricing, as a small client likely doesn’t require the same functionality as an enterprise-level client. A few have scaled monthly fees that ramp up based on the volume of registrations. Some charge more for additional administrative (user) licenses. A few charge more based upon the number of programs/events you use their system for.
Again, keep in mind that not all software is the same. Some simply can’t do what others can. In many cases, the buyer must simply keep shopping until finding a provider that can do what is needed. In other cases, a provider can create a “customization” that augments the existing software to do what the buyer wants. Sometimes, this comes at an added cost to the buyer.
Most of us would rather window (or website) shop and glean what pricing info we can rather than risk engagement with a salesperson. With registration software and its nuanced pricing, you might be better served putting the onus on the provider. Tell them what you need in a system and ask them what the bottom-line cost would be for that service. You should end up with one number that you can compare with every other provider you approach in similar fashion.
If you have questions about registration software or making sense of its pricing, please don’t hesitate to e-mail or call us (866.791.8268x0).