The Latest Trend In Online Dating Is In-Person Events

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The ultimate goal of dating apps is real-life love, but all too often, users find their swipes end in ghosted message threads. Though services like How About We have emerged to encourage singles to take their digital romances offline as soon as possible, many still struggle to turn online matches into in-person connections.

A recent trend in online dating appears to be yet another effort to connect users IRL. Apps from Bumble to Happn to Tinder are opening spaces and hosting events around the world to bring their members together.

Bumble opened its first physical location in New York City earlier this summer. Dubbed ‘The Hive,’ the installation was clad head-to-toe in Bumble’s branding and offered users and non-users alike a date spot, a place to hang with friends, a co-working space, or a quiet respite from the buzz of city life. The Hive featured a coffee bar, a real bar, and a shop with Bumble merchandise. It also hosted styling sessions from Drybar and a series of talks and social events.

Later this year, Happn will sponsor the Santa Claus Factory in Paris. The pop-up promises to be the ultimate destination for holiday shopping, with 150 creators hawking their unique wares. The concept store will be accompanied by an ephemeral café serving coffee and light bites.

Match has taken a tech-focused approach to enticing singles. At the beginning of the year, the company gave new meaning to the term “coffee date” by using Ripples technology to create custom custom caffeinated drinks with the faces of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes 3D printed in the foam.

In a more recent pop-up event, called “Model Males”, the company invited London women to meet potential matches in 3D printed form before meeting them in real life. Each figure was around seven inches tall and displayed in a shop in Marylebone. Interested women could sip prosecco while learning about potential dates by reading the details on their packaging.

Tinder has been in the news recently for hosting a series of exclusive parties in the Hamptons. The company rented a $13 million house on Montauk’s “Millionaire’s Row” for the occasion - much to the chagrin of locals. The Select House, named after the invite-only portion of the app, had permit problems, earned noise complaints, and was issued tickets from law enforcement. Joshua Metz, director of marketing at Tinder, faces a $20,000 fine for the shindigs.

Dr Mitchell Hobbs, from Sydney University’s Department of Media and Communications, told the Herald Sun this push for in-person events and spaces is more about marketing than matchmaking.

“Dating apps have lost their novelty factor and they don’t work for everyone,” he said. “Indeed, some app users are now likely suffering from Tinder fatigue in that the digital dating experience has not met their expectations. Real life dating events by the app companies is actually clever public relations designed to refresh the brands and challenge some of the negative images associated with the technology.”

Someone probably should have warned Tinder about that “negative images” thing before it hijacked the Hamptons, but negative press aside, it seems likely that we’ll see more events and brick-and-mortar spaces from dating services in the future.