Social Tables, a New York-based start-up launched in May 2011, bills itself as “a social networking utility (and seat management tool) for any event with assigned tables.” Social Tables is currently operating as a free public beta, allowing anyone to use the service for their wedding, charity dinner or dinner party.
Walking Dogs Led to Seating Guests
Co-founders Dan Berger (@danberger) and Matthew Tendler (@matthewtendler) met while walking their dogs, Leroy and Geri. The founders, both in their late 20’s, were inspired by the idea, “how could we see who was going to be sitting by us at the next wedding we were planning on attending?” Dan wanted to be able to see who he could network with at the wedding, while Matt wanted to avoid getting caught in awkward conversations.
Features for Event Planners
Pictured: A planner’s view of all tables.
For event organizers (e.g. a bride/groom or a wedding planner), Social Tables provides a cloud-based utility for managing your seating plan. If the event has multiple organizers, Social Tables has collaboration features to enable coordination of planning activities. In addition, it integrates with other sites, such as TheKnot and WeddingWire.
Features for Guests
Social Tables was founded on the principle of connecting and engaging guests before, during and after an event. They’ll be able to see whom they’re sitting next to and have an opportunity to connect with them prior. “We’ve coupled game mechanics and social networking APIs to make your event more fun and more powerful,” said Matthew Tendler, Social Tables Co-Founder.
Guests are encouraged to tell stories about the hosts, share pictures, and learn about each other. Connections can be made via real-time chat tools called “Table Talk” and “Event Talk.”
Social Network Integration
While Social Tables enables private social networks (centered around specific events), it also integrates with Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Tendler notes that he wants to go beyond sharing and liking, to use third party social networks in a unique way. Said Tendler, “Our focus is on making the life of the planner easier and the life of the guest more fun. By using Social Networking in the right way, we nail both of these goals. Think ‘Seating Bots’ based on very sophisticated rules matrices that utilize social tools.”
Next Up: A Mobile App
Social Tables is planning to develop a mobile app that guests can use at events. Similar to how mobile Twitter clients have enabled vast sharing of thoughts, insights and content from physical events, Social Tables envisions their mobile app facilitating photo and thought sharing among guests. “It is important to us that we provide tools that capture, organize, and share things already happening, and not distract guests from the event,” said Tendler.
While the service is in a no-cost beta period today, the eventual plan is a pricing model based around the number of guests, along with a set of premium features that are priced additionally.
Social Tables is an interesting service. I think they ought to focus on weddings, expanding upon their feature set to capture a large following from brides and grooms. In addition, I’m interested to see how they manage the “post-wedding” period. All too often, we attend weddings, we meet interesting people and we never see or hear from them again. Social Tables has the opportunity to change that.
The video (below) provides a nice overview of Social Tables.
Thank you for an excellent post, Dennis! We love to hear from event planners so be sure to get in touch with us if you have any feedback or ideas!
Dan: thanks for the comment. Best wishes with Social Tables.
Great write-up, Dennis. Although we are focusing on cornering the wedding industry, there are a few very interesting use cases of non-wedding events that we’re working on as well, including DC based intramural sports!
As you mentioned, post-event socialization is an area where Social Tables can bring substantial value to the guest AND the event planner. Event planners need not resort to mass blast emails as follow-ups which, if sent at all, are often viewed as junk mail. Instead planners can now directly interact with the guests after the event by engaging with them in conversations that are already occurring on Social Tables.
Co-founder, Social Tables
Matthew: thanks for the comment. Looking forward to hearing about other use cases of Social Tables. Intramural sports sounds like an interesting one.