A handful of twenty-somethings stand in the doorway of the Gin Mill, a New York bar, trying to get past the bouncer. But instead of just producing ID, anyone wishing to enter must show they had a dating app on their phone.
The singles event, hosted by the dating company on Thursday, has become a regular event across the city. The company operates its namesake app, which has all the functionality of a normal dating app, but with one twist: it’s only available once a week, on Thursdays.
The company unlocks the match option at midnight every Thursday, and people have until the end of the day to log in and message other users. It creates a sense of urgency. In an effort to get people out of the house, Thursday is hosting in-person meetups the same night in New York and London, where the company is based.
At the end of the day, the slate is wiped clean and all matches and conversations disappear. And it all starts again the following week.
The company’s app is part of a new wave of dating experiences that encourage people to meet in person instead of just messaging other users. And it’s an example of how new apps and old apps are embracing the end of pandemic restrictions and a desire to connect, in hopes of forging deeper relationships.
Break up with pen pals
For several years, dating applications have been nothing more than a networking platform. In most cases, a user will swipe left to pass someone or right to show interest. A matched pair can start sending messages. It’s up to the couple to decide if they want to meet. But often users complain about a “penpal” situation, where they text for days or weeks and an in-person date never materializes. The conversation is doomed to run out of steam.
“It’s hard to get chemistry over text, sometimes it’s better to see someone face to face,” said Ron, a 32-year-old who declined to share his last name because he didn’t want to. not make his love life public. Thursday’s event.
Or, as 22-year-old Matthew Bunch put it bluntly: “These apps can go suck a-.”
But with the Covid-19 pandemic came a reinvention of apps. Since meeting in person has become a risky or impossible option for many, dating apps have turned to video, audio and gaming experiences. Now, as people begin to re-enter the dating scene and several restrictions toilets have been lifted, the last objective seems to be to bring people together.
The features could help appeal to a group of users who may tire of constant swiping or want to ignore apps altogether, opting to attend events to meet people in person. Some Thursday users said they ignored correspondence on the app and instead used it to access events.
As more people use dating apps, analysts say there’s still room for growth. Over the next few years, the global online dating market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 13%, reaching nearly $10 billion by 2025, Piper Sandler wrote in a January note.
By hosting these in-person events, companies have the hope that consumers will interact in ways that have not yet been achieved in online dating. Events could attract more people to the apps and persuade them to spend more on premium features, like boosting their profiles or getting unlimited swipes, and telling success stories to their friends.
Match, part of the Match Group portfolio, has been working on developing Meet, a feature it hopes will take people from online dating to meeting in person “without necessarily having to go through the traditional loop of sending likes, waiting for matches, and spending time in conversation.
“I think the next phase of dating apps, and what we’re exploring, is really going to be about rethinking that dating experience, especially how you bridge the gap and connect people in a more natural and organic way,” said the main product of Match and said revenue officer Dushyant Saraph in an interview. Match Group also owns Tinder and Hinge, which have focused more on in-app social developments.
Bumble, for its part, has focused on providing a safe space for people to meet. The company opened Bumble Brew, a cafe and wine bar, in New York last year. It has since temporarily closed due to frozen pipes.
Dating goes social
Dating apps take what could be an awkward and uncomfortable experience of a first date and turn it into a social experience.
“People go on their first dates and most of the time, at least anecdotally in our experience, it’s often a waste of time in that it leads to nothing after that,” Danielle Dietzek, co -founder of social dating company Fourplay Social, told CNBC.
Users sign up for the Fourplay app themselves, but are asked to send an invite link to a friend so they can create a “team”. The two people then create a shared profile. Teams then swipe other teams and once two teams like each other, all four users can start messaging.
Fourplay, which is raising its pre-seed fund, has 12,000 users in New York and plans to expand to other cities, co-founder Julie Griggs said in an interview. The company is planning its first singles event next month in New York.
Even if a person finds out they have no chemistry with someone they were matched with earlier on an app, the benefit of a singles event is that they can move on to any of the other attendees. with little stress. People are also finding that apps offer a new way to make friends.
A handful of women gathered at Thursday’s event said that while they may not be finding dates yet, they are at least bonding with each other.
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