Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Evite Alternatives - Is Evite Worth Keeping?

I recently received an evite invitation to a friend's party (two of them, actually; and they both were via evite), and that got me thinking about how impressed I once was with the evite site/service and how I rarely ever use it now. My needs, simply put, require a lot more integration; but all of that thinking spawned an interest in what else is out there. What else is similar to evite, and may even surpass it?

Renkoo helps you invite friends through SMS, IM and/or email. But if I want to invite friends to go somewhere, I can use SMS or IM without Renkoo's help. Or, I could use Phonevite, which I'll discuss here shortly. Granted, Renkoo's invite tools help do that more efficiently, and it's hard enough to get family and friends to check out a web site much less join one. At this time, it still seems like another, well, Kindergarten-sounding web service.

Like the many other online invitation services out there, Phonevite allows its recipients to RSVP or decline just the same; except it does so over the phone. As the organizer/planner, you can keep track of the responses via the Phonevite site. Phonevite has a very good demo/screencast here. My problem with this is that I'd have to provide the phone numbers of the invitees/recipients. By nature, I don't like to do that. It's a trust issue, and I don't "know" phonevite well enough to do that. Once your cell number is out there, it's really hard to stop spam. That is my only fear, however. Like I said, it's a trust issue. The service seems to have everything very well put together. And many sources on their home page seem to like them. A specific declaration about their safety is right there on their homepage as well. I don't know; I'm slowly easing towards it.


Pingg has truly captured my attention. The service offers everything with style, and unlike most, all the steps to creating your invitation are on one page --That's a plus for me. You can customize your invites with some of the offered images or upload your own. And you can send your invitations (and ecards!) via email, SMS, print or posted to Facebook or Twitter directly. And their tracking is down-right awesome. Now if it used openID or something that linked it to my address book, which I have via Google, then it would be my service of choice. I'm not sure that I'd want to load my contacts via Pingg, but that's just me being picky again.

My review of this service is very brief: I love the option to add video, photos or even chat with friend in my invite. I don't like the service's tracking options or how unintuitive it was to pick a design for my invitation. Overall, I don't see Socializr that different from evite; so between the two, I'd rather stick to the more popular evite.

May be it's Zoji's colors, and how they resemble those of Google's; and hence a feeling of simplicity in design and approach. Or may be it's how quickly I was able to create an invitation. All in all, Zoji is indeed both: simple and quick. After you get to the site, you can pick your invitation design, input the information about your event, add attendees and you're done. It was much simpler than evite and its tracking was just as good. Personally, I'd use Zoji over evite, but most of who I know are already on evite. Once again, evite wins but not because of what it offers; rather, out of complacency.

MyPunchBowl lets you create an invitation and give your invitees the option to let you know what times might be better for them. So if 7 p.m. doesn't work for the majority of your invitees, you could, in response, change the party's starting time to, say, 8 p.m. to make it fit into their schedules. You can also set some attendees as VIPs, so their scheduling, dietary, etc. needs are met before everyone else. Or, it's to distinguish them from all other attendees. Like many other services, you can sign up/in with your Facebook account via Facebook Connect. I really like this service. Its Potlucks feature alone is worth using. The free online service, like all others reviewed here, sports quite a bit of features.

Amongst the ones I've reviewed so far, I'm probably more inclined to end up using MyPunchBowl or Pingg.

I thought it was worth mentioning that the service I personally use, and quite frequently might I add, for things like dinners, parties and all events is Google Calendar (GCal). I use GCal quite heavily, to be honest.

Allow me to explain: Initially, I wasn't comfortable with giving Google my contacts' info. as I'm sure you've gathered by now. But I was a user of GrandCentral, which was acquired by Google and is now known as Google Voice. To briefly describe the service ... My GrandCentral number, or rather my Google Voice account:
is a service that gives you one number for all your phones, voicemail that is easy as email, and many enhanced calling features like call blocking and screening, voicemail transcripts, call conferencing, international calls, and more.
Back to the topic at hand: GCal. I have a calendar for myself, one for the children (and their activities), one for my wife, one for our bills and one we call "menu," which we use for identifying what we're having for dinner & when; and in return build a grocery list off of it.

If I wanted to have some friends over, I'd put it on my calendar and simply add them to the calendar item (since GrandCentral transferred all my contacts to the now GVoice). True, there are no nice designs, etc. But I get to see it on my calendar along with everything else, receive SMS notifications, etc.

I could spend a day, easily, talking about how I personally use the many Google services available to all of us for free (Google Voice is not open to the public yet). But if you need help or have questions about Google, iGoogle, GCal, Gmail, etc. I would be more than happy to help you. Drop me a note or leave me a comment and I'll be more than happy to reply.

I hope you've found the reviews of these evite alternatives usefuly. There are many other services, which I've not had time to review, like: CircleUp, Crusher, Enclude, Facebook's Tools (a very good alternative), Invitastic, Meet With Approval, Mobaganda, and Windows Live Events. As you can see, there are a lot; and I'm sure many more.

Have you tried a service that you absolutely love and would recommend? Leave the rest of us a comment. ▣

Click here to see other Tuesday posts (including the current one).

No comments: