Estimated reading time: 7 mins
Meetingwave.com is a fast-growing networking site that aims to connect business people (predominantly) offline. It helps you arrange meetings in the flesh with people in the areas you’ll be visiting. I found this to be an interesting concept, so I thought I’d review the site for my readers.
This is not a paid review!
Meetingwave.com is an online tool where you create ‘invites’ to connect with other people in physical locations. Say you’re away in NYC on business and you’re going to be alone the evening you arrive, so with meetingwave.com you can invite someone (well, another registered member of meetingwave.com) to join you in NYC for dinner at a restaurant of your choice at your preferred time. Anyone interested in your offer as a dinner-guest can accept it, and you’ll be informed of who it is by meetingwave.com, and then it’s up to you to accept or decline your would-be guest’s attendance for dinner. I think this is a neat and simple model.
Your invites are not necessary open to everyone! You can state what the purpose of the invite is and what subject you might want to talk about, so it’s up to your potential guest if the invite suits them or not. Say you wanted to talk about baseball, or cheese. Whatever you want to talk about over your dinner, you can state it in your invite and hopefully only those people interested in baseball, or cheese, will respond. Your invites can be limited to specific people also – if you’re particularly choosy.
I spoke with meetingwave.com CEO John Boyd about his raison d’être. John’s background is in law – he was a lawyer who understood that in a competitive environment, the way to make it big was to travel and meet people. This meant that John was often in cities away from home (and often away from his home country, the USA) at a loss for interesting dinner companions. John struck on the idea for a service that would allow travelers of all varieties to invite other travelers to meet up. Back in 2000, John was eager to launch this service, but he was quashed by the dotcom bubble bursting, so it wasn’t until 2007 that TravelersTable was launch off the back of a very popular FaceBook app. Only in 2008 was meetingwave.com created as a more serious business brand.
I registered with meetingwave.com and entered my profile information – this took about 5 minutes and was very straightforward. I could then browse invites or setup my own. I chose to browse invites first of all and see what other users were saying. So I used the search function to find invites in New York State (expecting it to be a strong representative sample). The first thing I noticed was that the variety of invites was considerable, but there wasn’t a great deal of ‘quality’ in the invites when I initially browsed – in other words – there were too few invites that were focused on business discussion or opportunities. Invites such as ‘lets shoot the breeze’ really don’t compel me to respond, and there were a quite a few like this. I do wonder who is really going to take those offers up, at least in the context of a traveling business person. However, the site is still in open beta, so it’s not being marketed aggressively. I did spot some nuggets in there, such as an invite to discuss innovation, and another to discuss how meeting technology has been implemented in best-practice. I think it’s fair to say it was a mixed bag.
So I think so far, meetingwave.com is an interesting resource for business travelers who, as one invite says, just want to shoot the breeze whilst in a new city. Having a java fix with a total stranger who wants the same is better than watching Diagnosis Murder in your hotel, right? And it’s likely you might find someone who wants to have a serious conversation about innovation, and how you might help each other achieve it. For something that is free, then what have you got to lose?
One doubt I have is the safety issue – how do you feel about meeting strangers? Personally, I do this a lot. I enjoy reaching out to folks and taking the opportunity of meeting them. So meetingwave.com is a great tool for me, in that way. But for others I know, they would be very cautious about meeting someone you’ve just connected with online. The meetingwave.com website does provide guidance on meeting people from the perspective of safety, but it isn’t obvious enough in my opinion. I had to search for it and found it right in the footer. I don’t think any of us need the website to share what should be common sense. But prominent recognition of safety would give potential users the right message. If you play it safe, then you can play it right with meetingwave.com.
The future of meetingwave.com looks bright. When it launches in anger, I expect it will really take off. What excites me about it was when John told me about the upcoming enhancements to the service. In addition to the existing mobile support, from around September meetingwave.com will launch iPhone and Blackberry software to exploit the geo-location facilities in these devices, which will give enhanced search and invitation functionality based on your current location through built-in GPS; if your device knows where you are, then it can tell you who has invitations open nearby. John also described changes ahead to the search/matching which will become a lot smarter at matching keywords which will make it much easier to find relevant invites. There are also significant improvements in the funneling of users through the website to improve the overall efficiency and the user experience. In my opinion, the most valuable enhancement that may happen is integration into LinkedIn . By integrating into the social fabric of LinkedIn, users will be able to setup meetings with their connections already knowing information about them, such as their interests, background and location. It will also be a sure-fire way of drawing users onto the service. John told me that this was a major initiative for him, but he could not progress just yet without being invited into an integration partnership through OpenSocial. If John can pull this off, then I think it will propel meetingwave.com to new heights and it will become the true killer-app for offline connection.
I think that meetingwave.com has great promise. It is currently stuck in startup mode where the volume of content isn’t quite enough to create wide-scale norms across the site, but it’s close. If John and his team can attract enough new users then I think it will take off big time.
- Very clean looking site and easy to navigate
- Integration/synchronization with online calendars, e.g. Facebook
- Mobile version – easy to read with an iPhone, Blackberry or mobile web device
- Free to use
- A great way to reach out to people in person, rather than hiding behind a screen
- Extremely convenient process for setting up meets
- Potentially gives you access to people you wouldn’t normally have
- Offers diversity and novelty, yet the experience remains cool and appropriately demure
- Can be slow at times to move around the site – although this is improving
- ‘Romance’ invites reduce overall credibility – but John tells me this is a legacy of the Facebook integration, and this will be made much less visible/hidden
- The quality of invites means that it is hard to find interesting opportunities – ‘hard to see the wood for the trees’ – I think this will improve over time as the user community learns how to create quality invites
- Keyword matching not effective, e.g. searching ‘NYC’ will not return content with just ‘Manhattan’ specified – John tells me that matching is being improved
- If you’re going to meet someone – remember – Safety First. There isn’t enough safety information published on the site
- Very dominant US feel – this may reduce the value for US travelers going abroad, or other travelers going to the US in the long run, unless the site is made more friendly to non-US users. We live in a global economy, so a site with global appeal will have the best chance of success
- Potential spam vector for scammers – I received a ‘419’ message from meetingwave.com only today. No doubt this will be rectified soon…