EventSmart was my first alternative I looked into, and the service appeared to be a professional, simple, free alternative to EventBrite – and notably offers free event management for both free AND paid events (EventBrite is only free if the event is free). However, the “free” version features listed were quite limited, and I’m sure I’d be seeing the “this feature is only available if you pay $XXXX to upgrade” messages. For example, one feature I saw that would require an upgrade is the mobile check-in feature and the ability to customize confirmation email messages – pretty basic stuff.
EventZilla looked like a great system, but I had a red flag go up when I saw that the app only had 100 downloads — after the service has allegedly been around for 6+ years. When I clicked install, a second red flag went up when I saw they needed permission to use just about everything on my phone including the microphone. (Usually this means the app is about data-harvesting and selling your personal info, so I tend to steer away from this since it can be indicative of a company’s shady business practices in general.) As some apps may legitimately need access to a lot of permissions in order to function, I compared the permissions EventBrite’s app requested, and noted they only needed access to a handful of items — and GuestList only needed access for 3 permissions.
GuestList looked professional and simple, and didn’t charge a standard per-ticket charge of $1 like EventBrite and other event management systems I looked into. Instead, GuestList is free for free events, and paid event tickets are just charged a 2% fee on the ticket price. (When you’re selling a $5 ticket and it only costs 10 cents to process vs. $1.10+ to process like most other services, that’s a big plus.) I was also happy to see that GuestList ticket purchase options also integrated into a website with a simple copy/paste code, so adding a “Register Now” button on your site is very simple. One downside I found out later is that GuestList’s app doesn’t currently offer any features for event managers, like checking a guest in at the door via a phone app.
Summary: I ended up going with GuestList, as it was a reputable, tested and full-featured service that provided a good platform and price for both free and paid events.
Note: All the event management services I looked into didn’t mention up-front that there is an additional credit card processing charge for all paid transactions. This will typically cost .35cents + 2-3% of the amount charged — in addition to the fees charged by EventBrite, EventSmart, GuestList, etc…