Meetup.com Introduces RSVP Fees for Members, WordPress Meetup Groups Unaffected by Pricing Changes

Meetup, a subsidiary of WeWork, has announced a significant change to its pricing structure that will require members to pay a $2 fee in order to RSVP to events. The change will go into effect in October, ostensibly to distribute meetup costs more evenly between organizers and members. Some meetup organizers have received the following message:

Meetup is always looking for ways to improve the experience for everyone in our community. One of the options we are currently exploring is whether we reduce cost for organizers and introduce a small fee for members.

Beginning in October, members of select groups will be charged a small fee to reserve their spot at events. The event fee can be paid by members or organizers can cover the cost of events to make it free for members.

Organizers have the option to subsidize the $2 fee for members who RSVP so that it is entirely free for those who attend, but for popular groups this can become cost prohibitive. If 1,000 members RSVP for an event, the organizer would owe $2,000 to host it.

The new pricing does not apply to non-profit groups or Pro Networks. WordPress community organizer Andrea Middleton has confirmed that Meetup’s pricing changes will not affect groups that are part of the official WordPress chapter. In 2018, WordPress had 691 meetup groups in 99 countries with more than 106,000 members. According to Meetup.com, groups in the official chapter now number 780 in 2019. Middleton encouraged any outlying WordPress meetup groups to join the official chapter by submitting an application.

Meetup organizers and members who are affected by the pricing hike are unhappy about the changes. If the angry responses on Twitter are any indication, people are leaving the platform in droves. Many organizers have announced that they are cancelling their subscriptions and looking to migrate to other platforms, such as Kommunity or gettogether.community, an open source alternative for managing local events.

No competitor has the reach or brand recognition that Meetup has. Some groups will inevitably resort to using Eventbrite or Facebook to manage local meetups but neither of these are focused on promoting or growing these types of local events. Discovery and new meetup marketing are Meetup.com’s forte, but the platform has been fairly stagnant when it comes to improving the user experience.

“This new move is quite onerous on users, and WP is lending support to the platform, which is proprietary and for-profit,” Morten Rand-Hendriksen said. “The optics and messaging are not great. When tools we use start to act in problematic ways, and we keep using them, we are tacitly agreeing to and even promoting that behavior even if it is not directly affecting us.”

Andrea Middleton responded, acknowledging that WordPress’ use of certain platforms will sometimes involve compromise.

“It’s true that WordPress contributors use various proprietary and for-profit tools to help us achieve various outreach and coordination goals,” Middleton said. “I think we strive for a balance between expediency and idealism, but of course any compromise results in a loss of one or the other.”

Given the immediate backlash following Meetup.com’s announcement of the pricing changes, it would not be surprising to see the decision reversed. The company characterized the move as an “exploration” and plans to roll it out gradually to more meetups. For organizers who are looking to charge more on top of the fee to cover event costs, Meetup said this feature is coming soon.

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16 Comments


  1. Automattic needs to buy Meetup. WeWork is trying to sell it. They have done a terrible job overseeing the platform, which has so much potential.

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    1. The company characterized the move as an “exploration”

      I think they misspelled the word exploitation. Like many companies that get in trouble, it appears they are just trying to raise cash by any means possible.

      They should reverse this.

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      1. What are some alternatives to meetup that have waitlist management?

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  2. Meetup is always looking for ways to improve the experience for everyone in our community.

    I really love how all these companies always use the same argument of “improving the experience for our users” when they announce price hikes, lol.

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    1. Yep, for price hikes and when they want to sell more of your personal data to others.

      I also cringe when see “We value your privacy.” Really? then why are you stalking me everywhere I go and selling my personal data??? If an individual did that, they’d be arrested for stalking.

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  3. Quick and dirty hack around this problem: Create a meetup event with registrations disabled, and add a link to a Google Form and ask attendees to register there instead…

    Then can still make use of Meetup’s discovery, which is pretty good

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  4. This is the most idiotic way to squeeze more money out of this platform.

    I have a community with 2000+ members on meetup.com . If this “Exploration” goes ahead I will simply switch to an event page that has a better understanding of its own business model.

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  5. This move by Meetup seems like a real cash grab.

    Seems to me like the lesson we all keep getting is that SaaS business models can rapidly shift and we’re all better off owning our own content, experiences, and communities.

    There are plenty of free and open source plugins for WordPress to handle event RSVPs. Our Event Tickets plugin (https://wordpress.org/plugins/event-tickets/) is one great option, but there are many others.

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  6. I don’t mind paying to help out an organizer. But… Meetup has been hacked enough times in the past that I’m not going to give them credit card information. Some Meetups require an annual membership fee, which I still don’t mind paying, but again I’m not giving Meetup my credit card information. I think an annual membership fee is a better option, as that way organizers can use any extra cash generated to offset costs. They do a lot, and I would rather they get the money than Meetup.

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  7. I hosted meetups for 18 months and the most annoying aspect was the RSVP. People would say they were going, and then not turn up. Like 37 say yes, and only 4 arrive. Made for lots of leftover sushi and trouble booking venues. I reckon $2 will stop this, do good move.

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  8. Maybe I am missing the point here but who gets the $2 RSVP fee, they didn’t exactly say in the marketing ploy. From what I can tell it is now $197.88 to host your group on Meetup as an organizer but with the new structuring that goes to $24. So if that is the case the organizer does pay less per year. If Meetup gets the $2 RSVP maybe the optional yearly dues asked for by organizers (at least in my case) may be less desirable to pay so the organizer gets less money and Meetup gets more (Hey, I smell new revenue stream!! Marketing department you’re A-Go on this one). Reminds me of Northstar ski area charging for parking this year where it was free before all in the name of people will carpool so there will be less cars (right!). So before you had to park, take a cramped bus which you wait for get to the far end of the village then walk a long ways through the village and you finally get to the long line at the gondola to take you to the bottom of the mountain. That used to be free. Now you get to pay 10 – 40 dollars to do it. D’OH!!!!

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  9. The Event Platform Dilemma

    It’s time for WordPress to leave meetup, let’s create an open-source competitor to all of these event platforms!

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  10. Am i the only one who does not see why Meetup services have better alternatives?

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  11. Meetup has gotten a bit stale over the years. Eventbrite is ok but you have to fork out entrance fees. Other than online dating though, your best bet is a smaller app like Outist or Tag.

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  12. I don’t think there’s a problem helping organizers but i doing it with meetup.com is the problem. The platform needs improvement.

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