Social Networking and Seat Management with Social Tables

June 22, 2011

Introduction

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.

Revenue Model

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.

Conclusion

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.

Video

The video (below) provides a nice overview of Social Tables.


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