At SXSW 2013, Examiner.com caught up with Vanessa Schneider, Eventbrite's Senior Public Relations Manager, about new updates that made the event planning app even more social. If you were a SXSW attendee, it's nearly impossible that you didn't use the app, which compiled pretty much all the events happening around the festival.
Eventbrite seems to be on an unstoppable growth path, with $600 million in gross ticket sales in 2012 according to Forbes, and twice in a row being voted one of the top 5 places to work in the Bay Area.
The company has three mobile products, and its new "discovery" feature, allowing more personalization, just got its biggest update yet. Why does it matter? As Vanessa explains, "we define ourselves through our gatherings, so it is important to know people on an emotional level," so now the company can get even more personalized in its recommendations.
What does it do for you?
In case you're late to the party, Eventbrite's two-sided marketplace helps both event organizers and attendees.
As an organizer, the entry manager app turns your phone into a ticket scanner, the iPad app "At The Door" works as a point of sale with credit card swipe, generating also reports to see where people heard about your event. The attendee app, which has been out for a while but just got its discovery feature update, allows you to find events that are personally relevant to you.
So as an event goer, you can now not only retrieve your tickets on mobile, but also find new things to do, and register for free events recommended to you on your phone. The discovery feature is also present on the website, so by looking at the search directory you can see what events your friends are going to, and get personalized emails about events that might interest you. This recommendation system is based on the information Eventbrite has about you, from your social graph, but also your Eventbrite interest graph.
"It's an overlay of 2 maps," explains Vanessa, "first, we know who your friends are, second, we know what kind of events you go to. We added a third layer: if you and I go to a tech event, and we're not friends on Facebook, Eventbrite notices that 9 times out of 10, if there's a tech event I'm going to, you are also going to it, so we both have similar interests," and chances are what is relevant to one will be relevant to the other. That kind of information is important because, "people are looking for event recommendations that feel like a mirror. Eventbrite should be the mirror of who you are, because we as people are deeply connected to the way we spend our free time, it is personal, and different than Amazon recommending me a toaster."
The company crunches a lot of big data to generate this information, and Eventbrite VP of Data Engineering Vipul Sharma was actually present at SXSW to give on talk on "The Next Generation of Recommendation Engines".
I had the chance to meet former MoveOn.org and now Upworthy CEO Eli Pariser at SXSW, and the "filter bubble" debate was fresh on my mind, about the danger of too much personalization on the web. About that delicate balance between tailored recommendations and serendipity, Vanessa said, "positive serendipity is very important for us, it happens less in the recommendations than in the browsing experience. The question for us is, how can we create a browsing experience that facilitates positive serendipity but that doesn't send someone down the rabbit hole? So we ask ourselves the question, how do people think about events? Do they think in terms of what do I want to do tonight, do I only want to know what my friends are up to, or do I only want to go to events related to sports, for example. With all the different psychologies around, we have a lot of user research to do."
How do you use Eventbrite? What do you think of personalized recommendations? Hit the comments below!