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When people come to us in search of a venue management software solution, they often ask how Planning Pod compares to our competitors Tripleseat and Caterease.
As CEO and co-founder of Planning Pod, I’m glad these venue owners, managers and staff are asking questions like these to make sure they choose the right platform that best fits their needs. And these are necessary questions to ask in the early stages while you are researching event management software for your event venue, restaurant or hotel.
To help give you a good reference point, we wanted to offer an overview of each platform’s key strengths and pricing as well as who is the ideal user for each product.
FYI … We are not affiliated with our competitors Tripleseat or Caterease and so are not entitled to speak for them. Everything in this post is based on resources (webpages, videos, etc.) that Tripleseat and Caterease have made publicly available on the Internet as well as feedback provided to us by our prospects and customers who have evaluated Tripleseat and/or Caterease and shared with us details provided to them during the sales process. It is our intention to provide an accurate summary presentation of these venue event management software products. Also, during the 2020 pandemic, investment firm Vista Equity Partners merged the Gather event management platform into Tripleseat, so we will not be covering Gather in this article.
If you are considering alternatives to Tripleseat and Caterease, give Planning Pod a closer look. Our all-in-one venue management platform is a comprehensive, affordable alternative to both, offering easy-to-use tools that are preferred by hundreds of event spaces, restaurants, and hotels. Get started with a trial/demo of Planning Pod today >>
|Pricing & Users|
|Yearly Pricing Starting at…||$149 per month||$300 to $500 per month||$68 per month + add-ons (see below)|
|Required Setup Fees||$0||$500||$200|
|Number of Users||Unlimited||Unlimited||One($28 per month per additional user)|
|Event Booking Management + Calendar|
|Room / Space Management||Additional Fee ($24 per month)|
|Floor Plan Setup Design Tool||Additional Fee($69 per month)|
|Event Planning Toolkit(incl. Timelines, Online Surveys + Forms, Guest Lists, Registrations + Ticketing)|
|Centralized Inbox for All Email Communiations|
|Email Sending w/ Existing Email Addresses|
|Lead / Prospect Management||Additional Fee ($24 per month)|
|Customizable Lead Intake Webform(for Your Website)||Additional Fee||Additional Fee ($24 per month)|
|Contact CRM Manager w/ Tasks||Additional Fee ($24 per month)|
|Sales Documents & Tools(Proposals, Contracts, etc.)|
|Electronic Signature Capture|
|Food & Beverage Management(Menus, BEOs, etc.)|
|Invoicing & Online Payments|
|Credit card transaction fees starting at 2.39% +$0.29, ACH transaction fees at $0.64 (via PaySimple)|
|Integrations w/ Stripe, Square, Quickbooks Payments||Stripe & Square Only|
|Integrations With Other Software Platforms||Additional Fee ($24 per month)|
|Mobile Compatible(iPhone, Android, etc.)|
|Reporting & Dashboards|
NOTE: Although this article only focuses on comparing three of the most popular venue management software platforms, if you are interested in other alternatives to Tripleseat, Caterease and Planning Pod, here is a broader comparison of additional alternatives such as EventPro, Aventri, Event Temple, Ungerboeck, Catertrax, Zuppler and Cvent.
Who Is It For
We built Planning Pod to serve event spaces, venues and caterers of all sizes to streamline their room and space bookings for private/group events as well as manage catering and food-and-beverage services plus many other event details.
Our client list includes event spaces, banquet and wedding venues, hotels, restaurants, wineries, breweries and golf clubs as well as conference centers and corporate facilities that book both internal and external events (not to mention many unique venues like museums, libraries and wedding barns). Many of these are independent venues, but we also serve venue, hotel, restaurant and hospitality groups and franchises with multiple locations.
Planning Pod Pricing
Planning Pod’s prices start at $149/month (paid yearly).
With our base pricing you can also expect…
- ZERO fees for additional users – You can have unlimited users in your account.
- ZERO required startup fees – Training and onboarding is included in all venue software packages.
- NOT to be nickel-and-dimed with add-on features – All functionality/features are included in all packages of our venue software.
Our packages are priced based on the number of booked events you manage, so smaller, less expensive packages allow for managing fewer booked events, and larger packages let you manage a larger number of booked events. We offer monthly and yearly packages depending on your needs and budget requirements.
Our customers have found this pricing to be very fair in that they are only paying for the capacity they need; if they require more capacity to manage more events, they can always upgrade to a larger package.
Planning Pod Strengths – What Sets It Apart
Of the three platforms compared here, Planning Pod is the only true all-in-one venue management software because of all the tools and extras that are included in our base pricing.
Here are the primary reasons our customers have said they prefer Planning Pod over Tripleseat and Caterease.
1. Planning Pod is uber-efficient at handling the real-world operations and day-to-day tasks that face venues
Planning Pod combines 20+ flexible tools into one platform to simplify event and booking management for anyone in your venue who uses our software – from general managers and sales managers to chefs and kitchen staff to front-of-house and serving staff.
Furthermore, Planning Pod goes beyond providing all the necessary tools that event professionals need. How? By integrating them together to streamline your processes and simplify how you manage your event data in real-time. So if you sign up for a free demo of our software, you will quickly find that Planning Pod…
- Takes fewer clicks to accomplish things faster.
- Requires ZERO duplicate data-entry.
- Fits the way that your venue operates by not locking you into fixed processes.
- Offers automations and workflows that combine and automate tasks (more on this in a bit).
- Enables you to use our platform anywhere, on any device – including Microsoft-based PCs and Macs, iPhones/iPads and Android devices
The result of this emphasis on streamlining and simplifying processes? According to our customers, Planning Pod saves them an average of 62 hours of busywork every month!
That’s a week-and-a-half you and your team get back every month to focus on generating more new leads, booking more events, growing your business and being even more attentive to your customers.
With regard to our user-friendly tools themselves, they include what most event venue professionals like you would expect from a venue management software-as-a-service (SaaS) plus many additional features, like…
Booking management calendars and room/space management – Color-coded calendars provide multiple views so you can easily track event dates, appointments and billing due dates as well as timeline views of your event bookings to easily see your availability. Our calendar also integrates with other e-calendars like Google, Outlook and Apple.
Lead management and CRM / contact management tools – Planning Pod makes it easy to take in new leads (with a customizable lead contact webform you can embed into your website) as well as manage your entire lead pipeline. This includes the ability to schedule followup reminders and send/receive email communications with prospects so you can quickly increase your event / group sales and private dining bookings.
Event sales tools for proposals and contracts – In minutes, you can create professional, colorful, detailed proposals that impress leads and prospects (especially if you use our templates tools) as well as customized contracts (with data merge fields). And you can also capture electronic signatures for both proposals and contracts, turning a manual process into an automated one that saves time.
Email communications that integrate with your email addresses – Sending and receiving emails related to clients and event bookings is seamless in Planning Pod because our email tool integrates with your existing email addresses so you and your team won’t miss any messages regarding your events.
Billing tools for invoicing and collecting online payments – None of this other stuff matters much unless you get paid, and our billing tools let you create invoices from proposals in a single click; build invoices in minutes with unlimited line items and service fees/gratuities; and collect online payments electronically. If you use one of our integrated merchant payment processing partners, you can also schedule payment reminders or run automated payments on predetermined dates.
And with regard to debit, ACH and credit card payment processing, we work with top-rated merchant processors PaySimple (which offers rates as low as 2.39% + $0.29 per transaction), Stripe and Square.
Food-and-beverage management that integrates with sales tools – First, you can add all your food, beverage and associated equipment items to your account – including details such as recipes, wholesale costs, retail prices, ingredient lists and portion sizes – and arrange them into packages. Then you can customize catering menus and menu items for each event based on the selected items/packages, add your quantities and let the system calculate pricing.
And you don’t have to lift a finger to add this information to proposals, invoices, banquet event orders (BEOs), kitchen sheets, delivery sheets, event and meal schedules and other documents because our system syncs this data for you to eliminate double entry. You can event bulk download and print BEOs for specific meals and dates/times, saving you lots of time and effort so you can pass along key event details to team member and clients.
2. Planning Pod is easy to use and fast to get up-and-running
We realize that deploying a new event management platform for your venue requires a fair amount of time and patience from you and your team.
First, if you’re currently using a venue and event booking management platform, you must first download your data from that tool and move it into your new system. Then there’s the transition period of learning the new system and getting up to speed so you and your staff can effectively do your jobs using the new platform.
Unfortunately, most event venues, restaurants and hotels don’t have weeks or months to get comfortable with a new event management system; in truth, it’s more like hours or a several days at most.
Ease of use and quick implementation are two other areas where Planning Pod excels. Although we offer many tools, each one is intuitive and built so you are easily using it within minutes. According to our customers, it takes them ~6-20 hours to get their account up-and-running AND to get comfortable with the tools most critical for running their business.
During your first few weeks of using Planning Pod, we will provide you with complimentary onboarding and custom training so that you can make the most of every feature and piece of functionality in our system. Although both Tripleseat and Caterease charge setup fees for onboarding services, Planning Pod’s training for new customers is FREE.
If you have employees, Planning Pod’s user-friendly tools and training resources make it easy for them to quickly adapt to and start using the system, which has been an important factor for many of our larger venue, hotel and restaurant customers in choosing our platform.
If you get stuck, we provide email, live chat and phone support to answer any question you may encounter. And if you need quick answers, our free webinars, video tutorials and Help Center (with hundreds of searchable articles, FAQs and screenshots) are all at your disposal 24/7.
You can also integrate your Planning Pod account with other popular software applications (via the Zapier platform) like Quickbooks, Xero, MailChimp, Slack, Gmail/Google Drive, Outlook, Constant Contact and Salesforce.
3. Planning Pod includes a full-featured event floor plan and layout software
In the 21st Century, many businesses in the hospitality industry have switched from using hand-drawn room diagrams or basic computer drawing tools to using an online event floor plan builder to create polished event designs. This has enabled them to build professional, to-scale room layouts and setups that impress prospects and clients alike and give venue staff precise directions on how to set up events.
Planning Pod is the only event management software platform of the three covered here that includes a full-featured layout tool in every package. Tripleseat doesn’t offer their own tool, and Caterease charges at least $69/month extra for a tool comparable to Planning Pod’s.
As such, Planning Pod saves you from paying an additional $69-$200/month for a separate event floor plan program like those provided by Caterease, AllSeated or Social Tables.
Our tool offers easy-to-use drag-and-drop functionality so you don’t need to be a graphic design expert or have any experience using graphics or CAD tools. It comes pre-loaded with hundreds of common layout elements (including tables and chairs in standard sizes plus furniture, floors, stages and more) and an auto-layout feature that automatically places tables into a grid for you, saving lots of time.
You can even create your own standard floor plan templates and room outlines/boundaries for all your spaces and setups so your sales team can quickly show leads what their layout might look like.
4. Planning Pod offers a centralized inbox for all your event email communications
Another feature unique to Planning Pod is that we include an email inbox (with functionality that you are familiar with if you use tools like Gmail or Outlook) where you and your team can send and receive all emails related to your events and sales.
Because it integrates with existing email addresses for you and your team members and because it recognizes emails from any contact in your account CRM, you will never miss emails from clients and prospects when a team member is out. And any team member can reply to urgent emails from clients in one centralized place.
In addition, you can instantly attach any file or document (like proposals, invoices, BEOs, etc.) to an email as well as link any email message with a lead or event.
Our customers find this emailing tool invaluable because it allows any team member to view incoming and sent emails between all clients and staff members, enabling anyone in your organization to get up to speed fast on any client or event. No more missed emails or dropped leads because a sales team member was out. No more miscommunications because someone was left off an email chain. And no more searching for emails related to a particular client or event.
5. Planning Pod has a large (and growing) library of timesaving templates, automations and workflows
As discussed earlier, one of our goals is to integrate all the tools you need in one convenient place so that information is automatically shared across tools and easily viewed in dashboards and reports.
A benefit of this strategy is that we can (and do) build additional functionality for creating timesaving workflows within and between tools. We have already built out dozens of such workflow-related features (with many more to come), and they include…
- Customizable templates for frequently used items, including proposals and line items; invoices; legal contracts; food-and-beverage items and packages; email messages; checklists and task lists; timelines; floor plan designs; questionnaires; and more (as well as 30+ pre-built templates that come with every account).
- Automations for a wide variety of scenarios such as email notifications for incoming leads, payments, tasks, calendar appointments; text reminders for To-Do’s and event timeline assignments; automated invoice payment reminders and scheduled auto-payments; and more.
6. Planning Pod simplifies event management with event planning and project tracking tools
We include event planning software tools in our venue management software because we know that venue staff (and event managers on your team) often need more than the contact management, booking management and sales / billing tools typically offered by most venue software platforms.
As such, we offer a full set of event management tools for internal managers and event planners to track items like…
- Task lists and checklists – Easily manage staff and client assignments and due dates
- Detailed timelines and schedules – Create a detailed timeline for every event, including assignments and to-the-minute email/text reminders for each timeline item
- Online forms and surveys – Build electronic forms so you can easily collect information from prospects and clients
- File storage – Upload and manage files related to every lead and event
If your venue produces your own events and/or generates revenues through event registrations and ticket sales, we offer an integrated event registration and ticketing platform. This includes the ability to create multiple ticket types (with custom pricing) for each event; build event webpages and online event registration forms; collect online payments for registrations and ticketing; send registration confirmation emails and PDF tickets; and easily track day-of attendance with a check-in app that reads QR codes on tickets.
Unique venues that need a broader range of tools to assist with the event management and planning process find these additional tools essential.
Who Is It For
Tripleseat is built to serve a variety of venue types, and based on their website customer list and what we have heard from our customers and prospects who have evaluated them, they have many restaurants and hotels and hospitality chains and franchises in their client base.
Although Tripleseat does not list prices on their website, our prospects who have evaluated both their and our software platforms have told us that they were quoted anywhere from $300-$500/month (paid yearly) for a single-venue base price, which can increase based on the number of venues you manage with the software.
According to those same prospects, Tripleseat’s pricing also included a one-time $500 setup fee on top of the software-as-a-service (SaaS) subscription pricing.
The Tripleseat brand and feature set has grown over the last few years with the addition of a number of marketing and sales development tools to their menu of venue management features, which include booking management, contact management / CRM, lead management and documents (proposal, contracts, etc.), billing management (invoicing, online payments) and food-and-beverage / catering management (BEOs, etc.).
Noteworthy event sales and marketing tools include online ordering forms for accepting direct bookings, catering orders and payments online; lead intake integrations for taking in leads via a webform as well as via social media channels like LinkedIn and other web partners; and an online directory called Eventup where venues can add their own profile listing.
Tripleseat takes a unique approach to organizing event booking information and documents, in that they require users to maintain a “master document” for each event with modules for each category of data they want to track for that event. These categories can include food or beverage menu items + menus, equipment items, proposal language, legal language, notes, schedules and more.
Once you have added information to this “master document”, you can then create custom layouts for specific booking documents like proposals, contracts and invoices, and the system automatically pulls the related information from the master into those separate layouts. For large organizations or franchises that require extensive customization and setup to dial in a system to meet their standard practices and processes across all properties, this can be an attractive feature.
Tripleseat also offers a hotel room block tracking tool (with related reporting) for hotels and hospitality groups to track their guest room bookings and sales in real-time.
Finally, you can use Tripleseat on any device, including PCs / Macs, iPhones / iPads and Android devices.
Who Is It For
Caterease initially started out as a desktop catering software for mainly the catering and hospitality industry and now offers an online SaaS version. It still has a following among caterers and food preparation businesses, and it now also offers event and room booking tools for venues with kitchens.
Caterease takes a “base package + add-ons” approach to its pricing (all of which is posted on their website). Its base price can range from $68-$132/month for one user (paid yearly), but it charges additional fees for each of the following:
- $28/month for each additional user
- $24/month for room/space management
- $69/month for floor plan design
- $24/month for lead and prospect management
- $24/month for a lead intake webform
- $24/month for contact CRM management
- $24/month for each integration with another software application
Add all these up and the total cost can quickly push past $300/month (especially if you want a feature set similar to what Planning Pod and Tripleseat include in their base packages); this is especially true if you have many users on your account (at $28/month/additional user). In addition, Caterease’s pricing also includes a $200-per-user setup fee.
Food-and-beverage management is still a strength of Caterease, with tools for managing catering orders, recipe and menu building, ingredients lists, packing lists, delivery instructions, etc. Their recipe building tool is especially comprehensive, with functionality for creating ingredient lists that sum up ingredient amounts and costs based on the number of servings in an order.
The Caterease program also provides many customizable features, including dropdown picklists, printouts, screen menus (each user can even customize their own views) as well as reports. The custom reporting and printouts are a big plus because you can set up fully custom PDFs and CSV files.
The types of documents you can download are also quite numerous, including invoices, contracts, proposals, BEOs, deliveries, payments, deposits, menus/recipes, production sheets, costing summaries, service orders, timelines, prep and pack sheets (although if you want to be able to create custom documents, this comes at an additional monthly price).
One thing that Caterease offers that is unique among the venue event management platforms covered here is a staffing management and scheduling tool where you can assign staff members to events and build their work schedules. Designate how many shifts (for bartenders, wait staff, etc.) are needed for each event and assign employees to work those shifts based on their schedule of availability.
In Conclusion – Tripleseat vs Caterease vs Gather vs Planning Pod
If you are looking for SaaS software to boost your venue’s event business operations, these are the top three venue event management web applications that are frequently considered by general managers, banquet managers, sales managers and event managers who work at an event venue, hotel, restaurant or catering company.
We want to make sure you select the right solution for your venue, so make sure to vet each solution thoroughly – which includes getting a free trial account for each option and viewing related screenshots, tutorials, webinars and videos as well as online user reviews of each platform – and inquiring about each SaaS company’s cancellation and data security policies.
We also recommend getting accurate quotes regarding Tripleseat’s pricing, Caterease’s pricing and Planning Pod’s pricing with regard to the features you are interested in and the number of venues and/or events that you plan to manage with the software. And make sure to inquire about each company’s customer support options and ongoing training programs.
Finally, you should consider the type of venue you run, the type of events you book and your event planning processes to properly assess which platform is right for you. Hotelier and hospitality groups have may different sets of requirements than do unique venues like conference centers, wedding venues, golf courses and wineries, and one platform might fit your specific event space better. And a small business may have different needs than a large chain of hotels.
And if you want to know about other Planning Pod, Caterease and Tripleseat competitors, check out tools like Event Temple, EventPro, Social Tables, Ungerboeck, Aventri, Catertrax, Total Party Planner, Zuppler and Cvent. Sites like Capterra and G2.com can be good places to start. Or read this post with reviews on popular catering software solutions.
If you are looking for the perfect solution for managing your catered, group and special events business needs, Planning Pod has 20+ integrated tools to streamline all your processes, track your bookings and boost your event sales. Sign up for a free trial and demo.