I applaud this clarity and transparency in pricing. Too many web conferencing vendors make licensing their software a similar experience to buying a car. “Let me go talk to our sales manager and see what we can do for you… How’s this price? No? Tell you what, if you also take these optional components I think I can cut you a better deal on the package.” It makes comparison shopping awfully difficult.
A quick skim through the new packages shows that ReadyTalk has obviously used the Citrix GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar pricing model as their touchstone. Capacities are roughly similar at room sizes of 25, 150, 500, 1000, and 3000. Monthly and annual prices also match closely.
The differences are in the details, however. I spoke to Scott King, executive vice president (and co-founder) at ReadyTalk about the new price levels. He pointed out that ReadyTalk does not place a hard limit on phone or web meeting attendance. If you exceed your package size, you get charged an additional rate for each person-minute used. The per-minute pricing is also listed on the summary page, so there are no surprises there. This is nice, as it means you don’t have to overpay for a large capacity on the off chance that one of your events might turn out to be a little more popular than you had expected.
If you hold infrequent webinars, you can also choose to bypass the monthly unlimited use pricing and simply pay a per-person-minute fee based on actual usage. Citrix does not offer that option. ReadyTalk also offers bundled technology and services packages on a per-webinar basis that includes a producer, operator assistance, and other assistance.
I told Scott I was surprised at the number of included audio minutes in the smaller capacity “Web Meeting Pro” packages. In a 25-person plan, you get 1000 person-minutes per month. In the 150-person plan you get 2500 person-minutes per month. Those seem like big numbers until you do the math. A 60 minute event would only cover participation for 16 or 41 people under each plan! Looked at another way, if you used your entire meeting capacity under each plan, it would give you 6 minutes of meeting time on the 25-person plan and 16 minutes on the 150-person plan. So this isn’t going to cover your monthly costs very well. You still have to plan on some significant pay-as-you-go phone charges. In their defense, Scott does point out that the dial-in numbers include toll-free access for US and Canadian callers. I think that is unique in the industry… Typically included audio conferencing relies on long distance toll access.
The larger 500-3000 person “Webinar” packages give you streaming broadcast audio out to all your attendees, but they include no phone minutes for your presentation team. So you still end up with additional pay-as-you-go phone charges. Scott says that phone audio for their larger webinars typically uses operator assistance, which they have to charge for to cover costs. Scott also highlighted their commitment to providing the highest possible call quality on the phone lines, using a “Tier 1 audio infrastructure” that includes global international access, redundancy across many data centers, and well trained operators.
I hope more major vendors follow this example of posting their rates unambiguously on their websites. Having the option of using a monthly/annual package, a one-time flat rate, or a pay-per-use model is also convenient for different types of customers. Just be careful to calculate out your projected costs as you estimate your use of telephone and web person-minutes.