January is always a good time to look forward to the coming year, but it’s also a good time to look back at where you came from. Sometimes, it’s good to look way, way back.
Today, I looked back to 1974, and a scanned article from Custom Chopper magazine that talked all about a motorcycle rally in the California redwood forest, and more importantly, what went into planning that event. Some of these things might be familiar to you, some might not…
First, you had publicity. This was an invitational event. Back then, that meant calling people on the phone, talking to them in person or even sending them an invitation in the mail- no Facebook, email blasts, Twitter or Zvents back then! But what if it’s a public event? Well, it was all about fliers, advertisements in newspapers and magazine, posters on lamp posts and in stores, bars, phone booths and anywhere else you could stick them up, word of mouth and a good network. Networks are still important today, but they’re a lot faster!
Then, you have organization. According to the article, people came from Stockton, Hayward, Concord, even Fresno, all the way up to the North Coast. Nobody used Google maps or email confirmations, they just sent in their registration (by mail!) and took off on faith. The camp ground was organized either by phone or by mail as well, or maybe Jeff McCann rode his motorcycle all the way up there from his shop in Stockton. Either way, there was no online form.
And food? Food was all catered locally and cooked on site. Custom Chopper writes that the attendees consumed 125 cases of beer, a 200 lb pig (and 7 extra hams), 25 gallons of baked beans and “an undetermined quantity of macaroni salad.” Today, you couldn’t get away with that in Northern California- there would have to be some sort of vegetable option for the non-carnivores. Oh, and the beer? Forget about that much alcohol and no non-alcoholic beverages at an event where almost everyone is driving their own vehicles. We’ve come a long way in safety, as well as technology.
Security? What security? Despite a bunch of bikers descending on a remote camp ground by the Eel River, the local constabulary limited themselves to a quick check, and were satisfied with a promise that everyone was behaving themselves. Today, there would be a swarm of private security running around in yellow jackets and probably a few cops as well, just to keep an eye on things. There would be a medical staff, organizational staff, insurance, maybe a corporation or a non-profit running it all, and forget about the band playing for 9 hours straight on the back of a truck.
Finally, there’s the legacy. Today, that event would be all over Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc. Every moment would have been recorded on a cell phone and uploaded, shared and shared again. Back then, it was stories told over a beer at the local watering hole, a few blurry snapshots and a three-page article in an industry magazine. Whether it was about respect or lack of opportunity, privacy was assumed. Nobody knew who drank too much and made a fool of themselves unless they were there or knew someone who was, and it certainly didn’t make Most Watched on YouTube.
Things have changed a lot in the past 35+ years, but a lot has stayed the same. You still need publicity, organization, feeding the masses, security and some way to manage your reputation afterward. People still eat, problems will still arise, they will still be dealt with, and in the end everyone will have had a great time. Only now, it’s on YouTube.
These days, everyone’s talking about search. Google is the undisputed king of search, of course, but there’s also Bing, Yahoo!, Ask.com and all sorts of others out there. And then there’s things like Siri and other natural-language smart phone searches, and Facebook or Twitter searches, and they’re all a little bit different and do their own thing in their own special way.
But what about dates? It’s easy to find the latest Justin Bieber gossip, but what if you need to find an event that’s only happening once? Or maybe it’s happening every day, but you’ll only be on town for a week? Date searches, and date range searches, are very important to us. Not only does our system need to be able to find an event on December 15th, but it also needs to find it on 12/15/2012, on Dec 15 ’12, on Saturday and on December 10-18, 2012. Not to mention all sorts of other variations, and we’re not even getting into international formats! In the US, we write December 15th, 2012 as 12/15/12- in Germany, it’s written as 15/12/12.
All that takes a huge amount of planning and thinking and use case testing. How does the system know that 12-15 is the 12th through the 15th, and not December of 2015? Well, it’s not 2015 yet, so we can lay that one to rest easily, but you get the picture. Overall, we’re very proud of the Zvents search system, and are looking forward to getting some new tweaks and use cases pushed live in a few days. The tech team has been working like mad for weeks now, and they should make our search that much better, faster, easier and more accurate.
Boy, it’s been quiet on here! The last something-odd months have been a wild ride- first we were brought safely into the fold of the eBay family of companies, and then we took a long, hard look at our site and reworked the design all over again back in January. Since then, we’ve moved our headquarters from San Mateo to San Francisco, and spent some time getting our groove back in the new digs. Then summer hit and of course that meant things going completely nuts for us with summer events, and now they’re finally back to normal.
Well, almost. Thanksgiving was good to us, and we all got some precious days off with our families, and now we’re winding things down… wait, winding down? Yes! See, Thanksgiving and many of the winter holidays are times people spend with families and in small gatherings- not many big events. For us, it’s a chance to catch our breath and get our heads on straight for New Years Eve. And for you? Well, if you’re not the stay-at-home type, it’s a great time to get some of our attention if you need it, or to advertise your events with less competition. If throwing events isn’t your bag, check around the catalog a bit- there are still plenty of neat things happening, they’re just smaller. Cozy, like.
So what’s next? Well, we’re hiring, for starters. Check out eBay Careers and search for “Zvents” to see some of the things we’re looking for. Then the winter holidays, the craziness that is New Years Eve (always plenty going on around NYE!), and on into 2013.
I can hardly wait!
Here at Zvents we’re constantly doing our best to improve user experience in finding things to do. This includes a completely new Zvents.com look and feel.
Over the past year we’ve tried a lot of things and learned a lot. Now, we’re ready to put it all together.
The first step is cleaning up the Zvents interface, and making it as simple and useful as we can with minimal clutter. Starting Monday (Feb. 13, ‘12), that means stripping out some of the fancy graphics, and running a clean, simple site. You might recognize the look- a lot of our partners use it, and it used to be on Zvents.com as well. All the functions you’re used to are still there. If you are promoting events, you’ll see that simplifies some things (like changing images on listings), and that all the promoter tools are unchanged.
Next is a powerful new user experience that will let us put together all the things we’ve learned.
In the meantime, we’d like to thank you- the users who find neat stuff to do, and the promoters who put it out there, the venues who use Zvents and the ticket sellers who make it so easy for everyone to get their tickets.
During the redesign the site will be up and running the whole time, so stick with us and don’t be shy to check in with comments, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, and of course explore the new site as it emerges.
We are thrilled to announce that Zvents Inc. has been acquired by StubHub, an eBay company! Joining StubHub is an exciting next phase in our evolution to be the world’s premier provider of event and entertainment content. Since launching Zvents in 2005, our team has worked tirelessly to build a strong product line for our users, advertisers and partner network. Zvents boasts over 14 million users via its various channels – Zvents.com and its media partner network of over 300 major sites, including Microsoft, AT&T and over 280 major newspapers.
StubHub’s industry-leading service and platforms provide the ideal launching pad for us to accelerate our growth and expand our mission. We are dedicated to enabling our users to find fun and interesting things to do in their lives by providing the best events and entertainment information across our products and network. StubHub shares our passion and we will work together to drive a new vision for live entertainment.
Check back here for future updates and announcements.
The Zvents Team
It’s hard to believe we’re already well into December and all the holidays that come this time of year. Many people think of “the holidays” as a polite term for Christmas and Hanukkah, and maybe New Years Day as well, but really there are a lot more than that. Wikipedia has a list of dozens of winter festivals stemming from all sorts of cultures, religions, and philosophies. It’s really quite spectacular.
To many people, this is a time to spend with family, but with this much going on why stay inside? Take the family with you! The nice thing is that while it’s cold out, there are loads of events for the whole family, for kids, for adults, for college students, seniors, people on a budget a high-rollers.
Perhaps most importantly, there are also loads of charity events and options for volunteering. Try running a search for keywords like “charity,” “volunteer” or “donation” and see what comes up in your area. Some events are great chances to get involved with local community issues, while others are great entertainment that also happen to raise money for charity. You can search, or just go to “Community” under the “More” tab on the top of the Zvents homepage.
Or just look for “festivus” and get out on the town. That’s good too.
Ben Westhoff, on LAWeekly.com has declared this Friday to be Nigel Tufnel Day. But not everyone agrees.
According to Westhoff, various city and state officials have refused to rise to the occasion and declare a day in honor of Spinal Tap’s lead singer, and his famous speech about the necessity of extra amplifier power for proper rock and roll. Tufnel, biographed in the 1984 documentary This Is Spinal Tap, has custom amplifiers that go all the way to 11, giving him a ten percent advantage over any band using conventional 10-level amplifiers.
Westhoff has taken the matter into his own hands, and declared this Friday, November 11th, as Nigel Tufnel day. He states that this is to be an international holiday which “transcends all boundaries, both political and geographic.” Celebrated with paid vacation days for all employed people and a temporary stay on the laws of physics, Tufnel Day will be commemorated by “all paying respect to a tiny Stonehenge” at 11:00 am and a curious ritual known as The Smelling Of The Glove at 11:00 pm. Here at Zvents, we think he’s right. If any day this century should be Nigel Tufnel Day, then 11/11/’11 is it.
Fortunately, many people who are not city or state officials have gleefully capitulated to Westhoff’s demands, and Nigel Tufnel Day events are happening all over.
DiPiazza’s in Long Beach, CA is celebrating with a Nigel Tufnel Day Show featuring Naked & Shameless, and Bruno’s in San Francisco has tribute to England’s loudest band featuring several bands. Not to be outdone, Ralph’s Rock Diner in Worcester, MA, is hosting a Spinal Tap/Christopher Guest Tribute Show. We’re not sure who this Christopher Guest is (probably a Nigel Tufnel impersonator), but if it wasn’t so far from the Zvents office, that’s exactly where we would be!
Search for Nigel Tufnel Day on your local Zvents partner to find all the cool Nigel Tufnel Day events out there. And then, turn it up to 11!
If you’re a frequent user of Zvents, you’ve probably seen the new look we’ve given event listings. If you aren’t on Zvents all the time, though, you may not have noticed the change– it’s subtle, but important. Here’s a rundown.
*We’ve updated the image display box shape, and dialed in image resolution to display the largest, best-looking picture we can.
*We added thumbnails for additional images- no more clicking through “more media” links!
*We moved the Like, Tweet, Add to Calendar and other buttons off the image.
*We moved the “Edit Event” button down under the event details, and added a handy “Add Image” button.
We’re very proud of the new look. The changes are subtle, but we think they help make the pages look sleeker while still putting as many options right up front as possible. At the end of the day, this is the sort of thing that really makes Zvents hum: not just getting information out there, but really making it look good and be useful.
Zvents is giving away four tickets (two sets of two) to Broadway San Jose’s Shrek: The Musical’s special Musical Chairs Young Professionals Night in San Jose on Thursday, September 22nd!
Want to win them? Here’s how:
We’ve got two sets of tickets, and are giving away one set on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/zvents) and one on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/#!/ZVENTS). You can win either one or both sets, and winning either one isn’t going to affect the odds of you winning the other.
To enter in Twitter, tweet us (@ZVENTS) with an event you’re planning to go to and the Zvents URL (or shortened URL, like TinyURL) to the event page, and we’ll throw your name in the hat. Then we’ll randomly draw a name from all the entries we received during the entry period (more on that later), and inform you so that you can claim your winnings.
To enter on Facebook, just write on our wall at http://www.facebook.com/zvents with an event you’re planning to go to and the Zvents URL to the event page, and we’ll include you in the drawing. Then we’ll randomly draw a name from all the entries will receive during the entry period (more on that later), and inform you so that you can claim your winnings.
The entry period is from when we post this on the Facebook page and Twitter feed (they’ll be very close to each other, within minutes or even seconds), and will go until midnight on Tuesday, September 20th, PST. All entries received between posting and the deadline are eligible.
Winning! We’ll draw two winners (or, if you’re very, very lucky, the same winner twice!) on Wednesday morning and announce the winners on Twitter and Facebook. Then you’ll have three hours to claim your prize by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll announce your name, but won’t be able to tag you on Facebook, so check back! We will, however, comment on your post, so you should get a notification for that. On Twitter, we’ll @-tweet you. We’ll also try to direct message the winners on Twitter and Facebook, but depending how you have your account set up, we may not be able to. If we don’t hear back within three hours of announcing you as the winner, your entry is forfeit and we’ll draw a new winner. Don’t worry, you can play again next time we do this. Winning tickets will be at the will call booth at the San Jose Center For The Performing Arts before the show.
Restrictions: What, you thought this was easy? Since this is an event that serves cocktails, you’ll need to be over 21 to attend. The tickets you win will be good for one event (Broadway San Jose’s Shrek: The Musical’s special Musical Chairs Young Professionals Night) on one day (September 22nd, 2011) at one time (7:30 pm PST) in San Jose, so we recommend you’re local and can actually make it to the show. You’ll need to pick them up from will call, in person, before the show. If you have any other questions, email us at email@example.com.
Here in the San Francisco Bay the end of August always starts to fee a bit like fall already. It’s a short summer, but we have a long autumn and mild winter to look forward to, and around here they’re always full of neat stuff to do. Some of these events get planned months in advance, but when should they get posted on Zvents?
Well, here’s some information!
Most people start looking for stuff to do a month in advance. They don’t stop looking a month in advance, of course, but few people think ahead further than that. For promoters, this means you’ll see clicks start to pick up about 30 days out, and then steadily increase. So to get as many hits on your listing as possible, you want to make sure it’s listed well in advance of the date.
Most listings see a steady increase like a long, slow stair case with a sharp spike in the end. First, there’s that gradual increase, starting a month out and slowly climbing. On top of that, people search for events most often on Fridays and Saturdays, so those are spike days. You’ll see a low interest early on, then a spike on Friday and Saturday, and then a drop down almost as far as the week before, but not quite as far. The next week, there will be a higher spike, and a smaller fall, and hits will increase in waves.
Finally, in the last 48 hours, there’s an exponential increase in clicks on an event. It seems some people really do wait until the last minute! That’s OK- it’s exactly why we built this database. But this spike also includes all those people who marked their calendars for your event and are doing a last-minute check-in for the time and address. For both those reasons, you’ll want to have your event listing up for at least a few weeks before the event happens so links can build up and search engines can index it.
Did you know it can take a week to build outside links? Search engines index the web, and then just search through this index instead crawling the whole web in real time. As you can imagine, it can take a while to index everything! It takes Google a bit under a week, so your listing should appear in Google within five days of creating it. But it doesn’t always take that long- depending on where in the index cycle it happens to be, you could be listed much faster than that.
Zvents’ internal search engine has a much smaller database to index, so it can churn through all our listings is about two hours. If you create an event listing, it’ll be visible on the internet through a direct link right away, but it can take up to two hours to show up in search. Again, though, that’s a maximum time- it’s usually much faster.
So all things considered, you certainly want to put your listing up at least a week in advance to get all those last-minute thrill seekers, but a month is even better. And of course you can post events up to a year in advance, so don’t wait! If you’ve got an event happening any time this fall or winter, put it up as soon as you’ve nailed down the venue and the date. You can always come back later and edit it if the details change.