With SideTour, a peer-to-peer marketplace of marketable serendipity, you can do all that and more. The New York City based startup opens a window into someone’s world and provides inspiring and talented hosts with a new storefront-like marketplace, much like Etsy did for artists.
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Since its launch in August, the site has posted dozens of experiences in the New York City area for thousands of curious participants. For the past six months, SideTour was running on a basic system using WordPress and Eventbrite that the team had built in 2 weeks during their time at TechStars. After learning how users like to connect with other people they meet on a SideTour, how they like to be able to request private events and book their own groups, CEO Vipin Goyal and his team have introduced a new social layer to their experience platform.
Today, SideTour unveils its newly designed site (built using Twitter’s Bootstrap framework) and an entirely new social experience.
The new Home Page
The social experience includes 3 new major features.
1. User Messaging
The Internet is lovely when it can bring offline offerings into real life settings, and it’s even lovelier when you can later reconnect online with your newly met peers. Since every SideTour gets together a small group of people who usually haven’t met before, getting to know each other is a huge part of the SideTour experience. Users will be able to send messages to and make contact with other people they meet on a SideTour.
The messaging system allows hosts to message their guests directly pre- and post-experience, and also allows guests who have met each other on an experience to message each other directly on the platform. So there’s no need to exchange email addresses, become Facebook friends, follow each other on Twitter, etc.
2. My Experiences
In the new My Experiences section, users will be able to see the other people who booked spots on the SideTour they attended. Before the experience happens, the other users are “locked” and you can’t find out who they are. As soon as the experience begins, those other profiles are “unlocked” allowing you to connect with people through the SideTour platform once you’ve met them in real life.
My Experiences page, post-event when the other guests are “unlocked” and can be messaged
3. Group Buying (By Request)
While meeting new people is always good fun, enjoying a special night out with your closest friends is pretty awesome. Many of the SideTour experiences are classy picks for a birthday or bachelorette party. If you have your own group that would like to book a SideTour, you can request a specific date and time from the host. If that time works, the user is then sent a private URL which they can then share with their friends, letting everyone book as a private group while each paying for their own individual spots.
Also new: Watchlist
Now users can add any SideTour to a watchlist and get notifications when new dates are added. “We’ve been testing this with manual emails and seen great results,” says Goyal. “Every time we let people know a date has been added for “Dine with a Banker-turned-Monk,” it sells out in about 3 minutes.”
In addition to its social layer, SideTour loaded the new site with “less sexy stuff” like User Accounts, Facebook Signup and Payment Processing using Stripe.
Don’t live in New York City? Check out other international experience economy startups here.