Pathable, a Seattle-based conference app provider, recently announced that it is offering a free version of its 7-year-old, award-winning event app and community platform. The free app will come as a new, disruptive challenge to traditional event app vendors: where mobile event apps and Web platforms for conferences and trade shows are typically priced from $5,000 to $10,000 or more per event, putting them out of reach of events operating on limited budgets.
“People go to conferences and events to network, to meet new people and build their relationships,” said Jordan Schwartz, Pathable C.E.O. “But finding and meeting the right people at a conference is just plain hard.
“We’ve been providing our mobile event app and Web portal to conferences for years, but the pricing model set by the industry made it inaccessible to smaller events,” he said. “That’s not fair to the attendees: they deserve the same quality event and networking experience as those attending big-budget affairs.”
Many event app vendors don't divulge their costs publicly, forcing potential customers to surrender personal information before they can even get a ballpark quote. Flying in the face of this secretive event industry norm, Pathable has published a set of clearly described plans, including its new free version plus a low-cost “Pro” package, to its website.
Abigail Carter of Writer.ly took advantage of the offer for PubCamp, a one-day writing, publishing, and book marketing conference held in Seattle.
“Pathable was an incredible tool that helped me with all aspects of planning my conference,” Carter said. “It saved me countless hours by replacing the spreadsheet system I used to keep track of my attendees, sponsors, speakers, and volunteers. My attendees have been loving the ability to post and download the speaker's notes from the site and connect directly with each other, and my sponsors have been happy with the amount of exposure the site has given them.” She added that she plans to include Pathable exposure in her sponsorship packages next year.
Pathable is also the only event app solution to include a complete, fully integrated desktop Web portal and community as part of its offering. “Mobile apps provide critical value to conferences and events,” Schwartz said, “but they're not the end of the story. Desktop computer use still represents about 50% of Internet use overall, and probably more so in the professional world. Expecting people to do all their agenda planning, meeting scheduling, and networking on a five-inch screen just isn't realistic.
“In fact, it's a bit cruel,” he added with a laugh.
For Carter, that community component was key: ”[Pathable] has created a whole new community of happy 'PubCampers,'” she said.
David Blatner, co-creator and host of PePcon: The Print + ePublishing Conference, agreed. “We tell our attendees, ‘Come for the content, leave with a community.’ Pathable is the key to delivering on that promise.”
“Our goal is to make conferences more social and more successful,” Schwartz said. “Money shouldn’t be an obstacle to a conference’s success.”
Pathable’s free plan, along with premium offerings for larger events, is detailed on its website.