Weekly Now: Apple’s App Store Cuts Virtual Events a Break

The smartphone giant delays a plan to take commissions from apps being used for virtual events. Also: The Scotch Whisky Association puts a focus on diversity and inclusion.

For event organizers looking to take advantage of the iOS ecosystem to put on paid programs, Apple just offered a temporary App Store reprieve.

Last week, the company announced it would suspend plans to take a 30 percent commission for paid virtual events offered through the iOS platform through the end of the year. Apple said  it would not take commissions for virtual events put on by small businesses through Facebook’s app in particular—but as a compromise, it would continue to take commissions for online-native events such as game streaming.

Apple has faced controversy over the size of the cut it takes from app publishers in general, particularly Fortnite developer Epic Games, which is at the center of a legal battle with Apple. (The game publisher is part of a new advocacy group, the Coalition for App Fairness, along with Spotify, the European Publishers Council, Match Group, and News Media Europe, among others.)

In-person events organized through iOS apps have never been subject to the 30 percent fee, so as gatherings turn virtual, some event planners may be running into the commission for the first time. As we wrote last month, this could prove a long-term problem for event planners looking to offer virtual events through mobile platforms.

Other news highlights:

Embracing D+I. The Scotch Whisky Association announced plans to create a Diversity and Inclusivity Charter to help improve the industry’s diversity makeup, including benchmarks that the industry—97 percent of which is represented by the association—is expected to meet. The move, reports Imbibe, comes at a time when a prominent author in the Scotch whisky community is facing criticism over sexist passages in a book frequently sold in stores.

In person, at a distance. Among the organizations trying to make a return to in-person events is the Indiana Beef Cattle Association, which announced that its 2020 Hoosier Beef Congress will be held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in December, AgriNews reports. The event will shift to allow for social distancing, including by spacing out the area of its annual expo.

Leverage Virtual Events Effectively

It’s a weird time right now, but there are still opportunities to recruit new members and sponsors.

That’s the take of JP Moery, who focused on this issue in the latest episode of his Association Hustle podcast. Moery breaks down suggestions for emphasizing value to both members and sponsors around virtual events. One recommendation is to open up virtual events to nonmembers. From the podcast:

Think about how to structure your sessions, and design some purposely with the intent on showcasing the value of the association to your nonmember attendees. When we go to in-person events, there’s usually some kind of a new-member or a nonmember briefing. I’ve been to a couple of those and, oh my God, you couldn’t get me out of there quick enough. However, in this case, you can really showcase the benefits of membership without it being in their face.

Separately, Moery suggests using virtual event briefings to help draw in potential sponsors. “Every supplier in the industry should be invited to the unveiling of your new virtual meeting prospectus,” he adds.


Associations are working to keep people safe and informed ahead of the 2020 election.

Is now the time to take a look at installment options for membership? Lisa Boylan makes the case.

Associations are trying to navigate how virtual tradeshow revenues are treated under unrelated business income tax rules, writes ASAE Director of Public Policy Chris Vest, CAE.

(Ellica_S/iStock Editorial/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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