Buying event apps can be costly, confusing, and frustrating. The reason that Guidebook’s business model is software as a service, is because technology changes so rapidly, and event organisers must always stay with (or ahead of) the curve. Paying someone to develop a one time app is more often than not a costly mistake that people make only once.

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For instance, in the past 8 years, countless new device types and operating systems have been developed, design standards have changed substantially, and security requirements have become more complex. If an event organiser paid for a bespoke blackberry app in 2012, it would be useless to them today. On the other hand, if they had chosen to partner with Guidebook, and purchased the software as a service on an annual basis, their app would be at least as up-to-date today as it was in 2012.

By developing a platform that we constantly maintain, analyse, and improve – we are better able to serve our clients with the exciting new features they expect. Networking, session registration, live polling, and many others are no longer ‘nice-to-haves’ but ‘must-haves’ – and all the better if they can be successfully deployed with no risk. All new features and improvements begin from detailed metrics analysis, or direct feedback (from users, clients, or staff). They are then deployed and tested on the Guidebook app, before being rolled out for ALL of our subscribers.

Financial Positives of the SaaS model

We regularly see companies desperately trying to hold on to their bespoke app, spending more and more money to keep it updated and relevant. Adding more and more new horseshoes to buckaroo… before he eventually (and inevitably) kicks! Just like that old used car you’re always pouring money into, a bespoke app is entirely dependant on 2 factors. The technology it was first built upon, and the skill and integrity of the mechanic.

bespoke apps are entirely dependant on 2 factors, The technology it was first built upon, and the skill and integrity of the mechanic

To be clear, for extremely large, one-off/annual events, there is certainly an argument to be made for choosing the bespoke option. It gives the organiser complete control over every aspect, allows them to develop completely new and innovative features, and break the mould. Although this can naturally be off-set with a counter-argument that questions the need for a complicated, hyper-advanced app that the average user has no idea how to use.

For companies that run multiple events of varying sizes, it is absolutely vital that they have a platform which can scale, and which they can manage themselves. As soon as you add the complication (and cost) of a 3rd party to manage your app’s content, you reduce all of the benefits an app can offer: such as flexibility, autonomy, lower costs and ubiquity.

It’s really a very simple formula: if deploying an event app is cheap and easy, this will equal more apps. More apps will increase user familiarity, as well as an organisations’ understanding of how best to utilise them. Eventually this will create ubiquity, which will mean that anyone not deploying an app will be firmly behind the curve, and disappointing their users.

Commercial Benefits of the SaaS Model

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By consistently delighting clients with new features they have asked for, or even ones they have never thought of, SaaS businesses are able to retain their clients – and hopefully increase the value of all those relationships over time. In 2012, there wasn’t an app on the market that offered networking, session registration, live polls, surveys, and detailed user metrics. And none of the above were added to the platform overnight. They have been added systematically during our companies development, and the cost per event has actually gone down for our clients.

Meaning that the SaaS model has produced the perfect storm here at Guidebook, where clients are successfully served with a better product year-on-year, for an extremely affordable price. Put simply, the quality of our offering grows at a vast superior rate to our prices – which means constantly better value.

The more consistent revenue that comes from being a SaaS company, allows a much more long-term approach to business plans and product roadmaps – and Guidebook, its clients, and its users, have all been beneficiaries of that.

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Stewart Price, Product Specialist, Guidebook Stewart is a Product Specialist at Guidebook, educating clients on how to optimise their mobile strategy to create functional and elegant event guides. Since joining Guidebook, Stewart has built hundreds of guides for many different events, and worked with clients such as: University of Oxford - Saïd Business School, Mindshare, Etihad Airways, Benefit Cosmetics, and many more. Stewart is a passionate advocate of paperless technology, and has a creative flair for finding solutions to client queries - and ultimately turning mobile sceptics into believers! After completing his degree, he spent several years travelling Asia and Australia before settling down in London. Connect with Stewart on Linkedin: Stewart Price