No plans? Meet New People via Activities

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No plans this week? Or, ever found yourself with an extra ticket to a concert or sporting event, but didn’t have anyone to go with? In the past, your solution was wading through Craigslist postings or calling all your friends. Well now there are two web-based services that allow you to find others to do things with — Who’s Going and MatchActivity.

Who’s Going is the one that impressed me the most, although it lacks users and activities (they just recently soft-launched). The site is simple and very well thought out. The business model works like this: Posting activities are free and then people that “want to go” to an activity, pay an amount ($1 as of this writing) if they are chosen — if you aren’t chosen, you get your money back. Thus, if I had 1 extra ticket to a concert, I could post (for free) that I have a ticket and ask who wants to go — I might get 4 responders (who each put up $1 to Who’s Going). I then go through their profiles and choose who I want to go with — that person’s $1 goes to Who’s Going and the other 3 people get their $1 back. Note: Your friends can apply/attend for free. The site has social networking features — allowing you to browse profiles, add friends, message people, add people as favorites (to learn of any activities they post), post photos to your profile (people can comment on them if they are a friend), and post photos/comments to actual activities. They also provide widgets that you can embed in your blog or MySpace profile to promote a specific event or all your events.

There’s not much more to say about this site – I love it. It just needs users and activities. I encourage you to go post an activity and use ‘TC’ in the title somewhere, so you can connect with some fellow TechCrunch readers in your area. So go ahead and find a TC activity or post an activity — a poker game, or a happy hour gathering, or fishing. Who’s Going is founded, coded, and designed by John Wehr. He is also the developer of the (now stagnant) Tagalag, which we profiled last year.

MatchActivity has a dating spin to it — focused on finding activity partners for singles (but anyone can respond to any activity, whether they’re seeking a male or female). By becoming a premium member ($7.99/month, but free as of this writing — everyone is a premium member), you achieve 3 things: 1) You are able to post Private Activities that only go out to buddy’s in the system that you select; 2) You can send specific 1-on-1 invites to other members; and 3) You get 3 points added to your Reliability Rating (no other info found on this, but it seems to speak for itself — people likely rate your reliability in actually attending activities).

What I like about MatchActivity is that you can post an activity OR an availability — that way I could say that I’m available Thursday night, list some interests, maybe post a few ideas, and see if someone wants to do something. I also like that it has Activity Ideas — this lists upcoming events in cities (only 3 cities as of this writing – LA, NYC, SF – and about 5 ideas in each; but there’s potential here for an automated system where restaurants/bars/sporting events/concerts could post their own activity and be a featured Activity Idea). To spark some more “activity” on the site (no pun intended), I would integrate more Activity Ideas, possibly from the Eventful API (as Who’s Going is planning to do). I also like their ‘temporary zip code’ function, which allows a user to specify a different city they will be traveling to in the future, and thus open to activities in that location — this is somewhat similar to a feature that Google’s dodgeball.com service has (you switch your city, so that friends in that city know your whereabouts). The one thing that needed some clarification was the search — I wasn’t sure whether to input a zip code or city name, and it only provides listings within 50 miles (no option to change the distance). I also didn’t go through an activity post, but I’m hoping they have their Reliability Rating implemented, allowing users to rate their activity experience with the other person — this lacks in Who’s Going and could likely become an important feature for these sites (much like eBay’s rating system). Who’s Going feels social transactions are much harder to quantify (“I thought he was a dork”), than financial transactions (“He didn’t ship the package”) and is hoping that users will comment on each other’s profiles to demonstrate a relationship — i.e. “Hey, I had a great time!”

It’s tough to say whether either of these sites will make it — they need participation. The widget offerings by Who’s Going could virally spread the word a bit faster. I believe the simplicity and focus of these sites could allow them to take-off — I definitely feel there’s a need for this. It should be noted though that there’s a ton of indirect competition from “social event sites.” Friendster-founder Jonathan Abram’s long-awaited Socializr is a prospective competitor (but still yet to publicly launch). Others in the event space include Yahoo’s Upcoming.org, Zvents, $7.5m funded Eventful, $3m funded Renkoo, Skobee, Involver, Israel-based ILCU, Boston-based HeyLetsGo, Weekendr, MySpace Events, and not so much MeetUp, which typically holds regularly scheduled gatherings on specific topics.

We briefly profiled MatchActivity back in July, along with 12 other online dating sites.

More from John Wehr regarding Who’s Going:

Who’s Going was designed from the ground up to help its users meet new people. In comparison, MySpace and Evite events are targeted to friends you already know. Eventful and Upcoming.org are largely event listings – you probably wouldn’t find someone to go to an event with.

Who’s Going’s functionality is more like Craigslist or a dating site. As an aside, MatchActivity.com has a similar model and targets the dating market exclusively.

The (Whosgoing.com) site is designed and tested in an effort to cater to a broad audience and to be nimble enough to meet the demands of its users. The project was bootstrapped and developed with a long term perspective.

Steve Poland is the founder and web strategy consultant for Vested Ventures, a firm specializing in website consulting, internet marketing, and high-end custom web development. He can be reached by email via steve@vestedventures.com.

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