So you’re finally taking that big trip to Athens, Greece — the one you’ve talked about ever since daydreaming over pictures in a fifth-grade history book. You’ve got mental sketches of the incredible sights waiting to be colored in by reality: The Acropolis! The Parthenon! Zeus’s Temple! Beers with Mary!
Well, maybe not necessarily beers, but certainly a party. Thanks to the recently refreshed app Party with a Local, this lonely planet of ours may become just a bit less so, or a least more social. That is if Dan Fennessy, Cofounder and CEO of the Amsterdam-based company, has his way.
“The idea for Party with a Local came from my own experiences of finding that a night out anywhere is better with a local, but it’s not always easy to meet locals,” he said of the service launched in 2012 but revamped earlier this year. “Now me and the team are solving our own problem with Party with a Local. We have a passion for connecting people and love seeing successful meetups, great nights out, and genuine friendships formed via PwaL. The ability to bring people together for awesome experiences — this is what excites us the most!”
So what exactly constitutes a party (dumb question alert!): Says Fennessy: “It can range from grabbing a drink, a boat party, to meeting with a group to go to a festival, club night or live music gig. Anything that brings people together for a good night (or day) out basically.”
Some of us remember, and others have read about, the transformation that took place in our fledgling digital lives when experiences went from interacting exclusively with bits that made up cold information we sought to the warm representation of atoms as technology connected us — at least tenuously — to the presence of other humans.
For some that was the 1980s when IRC channels or chat rooms of BBSs brought people from afar much closer; for others it was the 1990s and CompuServe or AOL, where the great social experiment really began, and where the online party first helped regular folks connect in ways they never dreamed. Who needed reality when this new technology exposed in the privacy of homes our suddenly naked emotions; that screeching sound representing a sort of modem-as-prophylactic?
It’s true, we were confused by the intersection of the virtual and our reality. Some retreated into the ones and zeros; others found ways to use the technology to draw people into the open.
One of the products I was responsible for at AOL was Local Personals, that magnet of hopeful exclamation: “Find available people in your town tonight!” But the intended outcome of the product, for many of its devotees, was something other than a party.
Bridging the gap between online and offline was really the job, in those early days, of particular online forums, Newsgroups and at AOL the wicked combination of its millions-strong Member Directory and sidekick: chat rooms. Common behavior was to bounce between chat rooms where people would assess the conversation then flip to the Directory to see who was saying what. At AOL Local (Digital City at the time) these chat rooms often became launchpads for group parties – and not just online.
One of the first things I did after coming to Digital City was attend a party hosted by leaders of a local chat room. And I can surely report it was definitely PARTY WITH A LOCAL time for sure. They had on their own broken the digital wall, met up in person and took the fun offline (and as I recall it was a little off the hook as well).
And while Fennessy’s service is more about individuals finding new friends to revel with, it is not intended as a personals site. It’s about the parties.
We talked more with Fennessy about PwaL to get a better sense of what the app (Android and iOS) offers people seeking new friends with party favors. In my trials of the product I found it easy to search out people who might want to host me, were I to visit, but wondered about the logistics and safety issues (we’ve all heard the Craigslist stories).
How has safety played into the development and evolution of the service?
Party with a Local is all about community, and we make sure to encourage the right kind of culture within our app. Super Locals are hand picked ambassadors for Party with a Local, acting as role models for other users and an embodiment of our culture.
Moreover, we are actively not a dating app and we take “Creep Watch” (against sexist, racist, aggressive or dodgy behaviour) seriously to ensure Party with a Local is a fun & safe place for everyone.
Why can’t I just use Craigslist or similar local connection sites to find the parties?
Craigslist is about a whole variety of things — meeting for nightlife is definitely not the key focus. Our app and features are fully focused on enabling connections between people for nightlife. Further, most other ‘meet new people’ apps gear towards dating, like Tinder. Or a wide variety of interests, like Meetup.com.
We’re different in that we’re one hundred percent focused on connecting people for nightlife — and without a dating focus.
Nightlife is a huge niche far there is no mainstream social nightlife app addressing this market, and that’s where we come in.
You use the term “nightlife tourism” on the site. What’s that exactly?
Nightlife tourism — people who travel for nightlife. Lots of people, especially millenials, travel to enjoy nightlife, often as the primary reason to travel — mega festivals, “party places” like Ibiza, Vegas and Berlin. Globally, 300 million millennials travel each year, many to enjoy nightlife.
We’re not only focused on nightlife tourism though — Party with a Local originally began as a travel app, focusing on connecting travelers with locals, but has since broadened (based on user feedback) to be about connecting anyone anywhere who loves to party — when at home or traveling.
You mention the app embodies the “social network for travelers to connect with locals for a night out you will never forget” … Is there a filtering process of any kind to assure the participants are truly partiers making fun companions?
We’re all about being open and welcoming of everyone and anyone can sign up to join Party with a Local. We do take some measures in the sign-up process to make sure we keep out spammers or any users there for the wrong reasons. We take community management very seriously. If people are obviously there for dating or are harassing other users, they won’t last long, we block users who are using the app inappropriately. That doesn’t happen very often at all though thankfully.
We personally welcome and chat with every new user who signs up. We are really proud of our community as we think it’s something that sets us apart from other “meetup” products which can be stiff and formal or alternatively dating-focused and creepy — we actively try to encourage these attributes through our branding and internal/external marketing (You might have come across the Party Unicorn in the app — our official ambassador!)
You mention the app has users in 180 countries, but do users have an easy time finding others to party with on a broad scale? In other words, how many users have you got?
We don’t give out exact user numbers right now, mostly because we are growing fast and it’s changing quickly. But we have well over 100k users, a high percentage of those are active, and 99% of our growth has been organic so far (from the app stores and word of mouth). So no, we haven’t had any problem scaling so far, and we think we’re only going to grow faster once we really nail the product, get network effects and potentially do some partnerships and paid marketing in the future.
Where is the most activity (country/cities)?
We have activity all over the world, but there are some hubs where we see the most activity. Amsterdam, where we are based, is so far the most active city. This is followed by London, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro (Brazilians especially seem to love the concept), Berlin, Paris, Lisbon and now starting to see some good growth and engagement in U.S. cities like New York, San Francisco and LA.
What is the persona of the average user?
The Party with a Local community is typically made up of young professionals between the age of 25-38 who often live abroad or travel a lot, and are highly social and love to party, but don’t necessarily have people within their own network to enjoy nightlife with — both at home or when traveling — that’s where PwaL comes in!
Our users are spontaneous, fun-loving and with an international mindset, and love meeting new people. Oh — and ninety-five percent of our community drink! We’re starting out by targeting young professionals who travel a lot as they are naturally drawn to the app, but also see a huge opportunity to expand our community beyond this group in the future.
What about the male/female breakdown?
It’s slightly more men, around 60-40. In our most active cities it’s closer to 50-50 and we see some of our most active users and Super Locals are females. We get feedback from females who say they like the app because it isn’t dating-focused.
What is the revenue strategy?
We have two main revenue sources — in-app purchases and event-based purchases.
The core app is free and we have in-app purchases for extra features. You can pay to unlock the “Globetrotter” monthly subscription which gives you extra features in the app, such as chatting with someone in a different city, and shortly the ability to join events in other cities.
On the events side, we’ve been running our own paid events in Amsterdam. Events are great for community building, real-life connections, and marketing and usually sell out. We also have local subscriptions which get you discounts on events and free drinks at partner venues.
Are you planning to allow local advertisers to participate in the app?
More partnerships than advertising. We’ve had several brand-sponsored events and formed partnerships with various event organizers and venues to feature their parties and events in the app and/or for free or discounted tickets/drinks for our users. We plan to set up more partnerships to bring extra value to subscribers.