March 21, 2015
Decades ago, young New York Jews drove up into the picturesque Catskill Mountains to meet one another; secure in the knowledge that the cream of the single crop would be waiting for them at one of the huge hotels in the aptly named “Borscht Belt.” Now, the belt lies deserted, the hotel only in the history books, but New York’s Jews are still looking for the cream of the single crop…they just don’t have to leave their phone or laptop to do it.
In 2015 and beyond, the future of dating will be in the seamless blending of the mobile and the present; millennials will favor tools that let them efficiently begin the process on mobile and then rapidly meet those they share interests with in the real world.
Today, where their grandparents would have driven to the Borscht Belt, singles in New York and other cities download Hinge, which considers itself an ‘app as a meeting place’ and seeks to revolutionize digital dating by making mobile search even more seamless – and then rapidly taking the experience off the cloud and back into the real world.
“Hinge blurs the lines between online and offline by mimicking the real-world experience of meeting through friends. The social connection, along with Facebook-validated photos and profile information such as school and workplace, creates a level of accountability and transparency that allows users to feel comfortable moving offline quickly,” said Justin McLeod, CEO of Hinge.
Hinge is, of course, not the only site or app seeking to bridge the online-offline gap, and others are at the forefront of bridging that gap for diverse communities. Dattch (rebranded as HER), a new app for the Lesbian market, helps reach a demographic that has found it difficult to date using both traditional and Web 1.0 methods. Different meetups cater to every type of interest group imaginable; for those who need their chosen one to also love “Absurdism and Surrealism” or “The Bad Film Society of Philadelphia”. Gay travelers seeking a match can use Misterbnb, one of my own investments and a travel booking site on the Airbnb model that caters to the LGBT market. Although hardly a dating website, past Misterbnb users have slyly acknowledged that if they can find a charming gay host for their next vacation, who knows if Mr. Right might not come from that more exotic locale?
Perhaps most interesting, millennials’ penchant for using tech-driven benefits cards. While old-school country clubs may be on their last generation, the younger affluent are catering to exclusive benefits cards and programs that allows them to meet other, similar members through social events. One of the most popular, Founders Card, gears itself primarily to entrepreneurs – a group notorious for dating the like-minded. A rising rival, Select, uses a screening process is geared to ensure that members meet others who they feel will enrich their lives and experience.
“Bringing the community together through a variety of members-only events, ranging from cocktail receptions to fashion shows, sporting events to gallery openings has been a huge success. Ambitious people want to connect and facilitating that connection through unique experiences is incredibly valuable,” said Carlo Cisco, CEO of Select.
Dating and connecting is, by its very nature, a personal and social experience. How do we find that singular right person for us, our heart of hearts soulmate? The answer isn’t here yet, but millennials’ new mix of online tools that seamlessly combine the mobile and in-person experience looks like the next wave of the future.
Image credit: Flickr/Guian Bolisay
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