It’s not going to win any beauty pageants, but Eventful 2.0 could make sure you never get bored. It’s racked up 20 million registered users and shows of 4 million events at a time, but with today’s big relaunch Eventful gets personalized thanks to your Facebook, iTunes, Spotify, and Last.fm data. That lets it show you concerts you’ll love, along with movie times, conferences, festivals and more.
Event discovery is getting crowded with tons of new mobile-first apps, but Eventful’s been in the game since 2004. While others often only show the events they can make money off selling you tickets for, Eventful’s ambitious goal is to index every event on Earth. To do that it’s built a stable of thousands of data sources to create what it calls the world’s most comprehensive event directory.
With great data, comes great responsibility to curate, though. Eventful at one point tried using human editors to hand-pick the best events, but CEO Jordan Glazier tells me that didn’t work because his app’s audience ranged from “hipsters to moms with kids to empty nesters and everything in between.”
So instead Eventful set out to learn everything it could about its users to build a powerful personalization algorithm. Now when you first login to Eventful 2.0 for iOS, it lets you pull in your iTunes, Spotify, and/or Last.fm data along with your Facebook interests. The result is much better live music recommendations, which is critical since 70% of the events listed in the app are concerts. It also watches what artists, venues, and other things you check out to suggest similar events in the future, and you can thumbs up and down events to actively teach the app’s algorithm.
The whole design of Eventful has been overhauled too. Open it and you’re centered on a “For You” tab of nearby events it thinks you’ll like. I was impressed with its accuracy, as it actually surfaced numerous upcoming concerts I either already had tickets for or would love to go to. It even knew that while Oakland is the city over from where I live in San Francisco, I love the rock band Japandroids enough to drag myself across the bay to see them play a small club show.
There’s also tabs for the most popular concerts in your area, movie times (which is pretty unique for an event app), and an “Events” tab that lets you drill down into nearly 30 specific categories like ‘family’, ‘food’, ‘museums’, and ‘outdoors’. You can sot any of the tabs by ‘all events’, ‘today’, ‘this week’, and ‘this weekend’ if you’ve got a certain night you’re trying to fill. You can also view results on a map, and filter them to only show events in a certain radius of your location. One of Eventful’s biggest strengths is that it’s global, so it can get you entertained no matter where you are, unlike many event apps that only work in a few major markets.
Eventful’s biggest problems are its design and ticket purchasing. The app looks decidedly 2010. Lots of dead space, exposed buttons, and tiny images crammed into a dull list view. Its design is bush league compared to modern mobile event apps like WillCall with its glossy images, and Applauze’s dynamically expanding tiles. Eventful gets the job done, so if you’re all about utility you won’t mind, but the look won’t make you want to browse it for pleasure. And beyond the standard sharing features, Eventful lacks any sort of native social notification system to tell you when friends have signed up for a show, which would have helped with reengagement.
The commerce experience is pretty crummy too. While most concerts boast ticket links, they just open your Safari browser to the StubHub homepage. Glazier tells me this is due to constraints and API shortcomings of its ticketing partners. Still, Applauze managed to build StubHub purchasing directly into the app, and WillCall handles its own ticketing inventory so you can instantly buy tickets to something that looks fun. Those apps don’t have Eventful’s catalog, but still.
The 65 -person San Diego company luckily has nearly $20 million in funding, led by Draper Fisher Jurvetson, so developing an active user base may be more important that juicing monetization. To that end, the update has worked, as Glazier tells me it has boosted engagement by 40% for testers. The startup plans to port the redesign and personalization features to its Android app, and has already integrated them into its website and emails.
In the end, Eventful 2.0′s personalization is a big step forward. However, I’d mostly rely on it for event discovery, not purchasing, so it may be missing out on serious revenue. Most people find themselves stuck on the couch watching TV or diddling around on the Internet way too much. Sometimes all it takes is knowing there’s a party in your neighborhood to get you out of the house, and for that, Eventful delivers.