Apps earnings

Singles Ditch Tinder and Hinge for Apps That Help Them Socialize IRL

  • New dating apps like Thursday and POM are testing in-person events in London and New York.
  • There’s a growing desire among singles to meet people in person again, the CEO told Insider on Thursday.
  • Dating apps need to adapt to increase customer satisfaction, a dating expert told Insider.

Jessica Sultoo broke her collarbone in the last singles event she attended.

A man she had met there lifted her onto his shoulder and, in a drunken stupor, dropped her.

She was at an event in London hosted by Thursday, a dating app that has been running singles meetups in bars across the city every Thursday since it launched in July last year.

The experience was clearly an accident that would be enough to discourage anyone.

But Sultoo, 30, is certain it was an isolated incident, and that hasn’t deterred her from looking back at the app’s events.

“I’m very single and ready to mingle,” she told Insider during one of the Thursday, March 3, events at a bar called Tonight Jospehine. “I have four [dating] apps on my phone and they don’t work!”

Jessica Sultoo at one of Thursday's events in south-west London on March 3, 2022.

Jessica Sultoo at one of Thursday’s events in south-west London on March 3, 2022.

Insider/Urooba Jamal

Sultoo’s sentiments reflect growing frustration with popular dating apps such as Tinder and Hinge, which many have exhausted during the pandemic. Tapping on screens was the only way to meet someone new when confined indoors, and video chats or socially distanced walks were the only go-to dates.

Tinder reported 2020 as their busiest year yet, with its users also setting usage records in early 2021. Hinge tripled its revenue from 2019 to 2020 and doubled it from 2021.

The surge in the use of dating apps has prompted many to roll out a host of new features such as video chats.

But as the pandemic wanes, people are going out again — and hoping to meet someone in person. Now, a new generation of dating apps is leaning towards that desire.

“[During lockdown] people had saturated Hinge, Tinder, Bumble,” Thursday CEO Matthew Love told Insider.

“It’s kind of gone back to the old school where people don’t want to be online and glued to their phones,” he added. “They want to experience something in real life.”

This is also what observed Mandy Mee, dating coach at the agency MME.

Events are an alternative to “the typical experience of cognitive overchoice, burnout, and catfishing that’s inevitable when it comes to online dating,” Mee told Insider.

The Love app, which is available to Londoners and New Yorkers, with a weird event taking place in other cities across the UK, held its first event in London in November. More than 650 people roamed the 400-person capacity venue where it took place.

People queue to attend one of Thursday's events in south-west London, March 3, 2022.

People queue to attend one of Thursday’s events in south-west London, March 3, 2022.

Insider/Urooba Jamal

It’s grown in popularity ever since – with people using it in a variety of ways.

“Some try to use it to have more than one bedside table, some try to use it to meet the love of their life. Some try to use it to see multiple people. Others just use it because it’s social,” Love said.

Now the app hosts up to 15 events in London and New York every week, many of which are over capacity.

Users can only use the app on the day of the week that bears its name – Thursday, which Love says is usually the most popular date night in cosmopolitan Western cities.

Like other popular apps, people can browse other people’s profiles and matches. As soon as the clock hits midnight, however, the app locks until the following Thursday, erasing all correspondence or conversations.

It also lists events taking place in the city this Thursday, luring users into the start of the week with a notification of locations for the current week.

That’s what fellow app user Sarah Kelly, 30, looks forward to every week. She uses Thursday events as an excuse to hang out with her girlfriends, especially since she’s busy working on the weekends.

“‘Georgia, should we go?'” Kelly asks when the notification appears each week, waving at her friend present with her at the Tonight event Josephine, Georgia Freeman, 29.

The two attended several Thursday events, motivated to have a good time in bars again because they are bored of small talk on dating apps and have felt time deprived during the pandemic.

Georgia Freeman (L) and Sarah Kelly (R) at one of Thursday's events in south-west London on March 3, 2022.

Georgia Freeman (L) and Sarah Kelly (R) at one of Thursday’s events in south-west London on March 3, 2022.

Insider/Urooba Jamal

But socializing with friends isn’t a priority for everyone at these app-facilitated dating events.

Meid Adam, 24, came to Thursday’s Tonight Josephine event alone, as he has done at several Thursday events.

“I really feel like coming alone will give me more opportunities to meet someone new,” he told Insider at the event. “Because I’m not coming to hang out with someone I already know.”

Meid Adam at one of Thursday's events in south-west London, March 3, 2022.

Meid Adam at one of Thursday’s events in south-west London, March 3, 2022.

Insider/Urooba Jamal

In-person sociability is also at the heart of another new app, Power of Music, or POM. This app connects users based on their musical tastes and has hosted several music events in London since its launch last July.

“Meeting on our app? Great. You know you have that fundamental emotional connection. Now go to one of our events and meet in person,” POM founder Vihan Patel told Insider. “At the very least, there’s a good conversation starter, this conversation about music.”

While POM is at an earlier stage than Thursday, it’s also growing, having hit 100,000 downloads this month.

The app allows users to connect their Spotify or Apple Music accounts, which helps POM see what music is most popular in a given region, important fodder for organizing music events. Patel plans to hold one event per week soon.

As for Thursday, the app’s social media is awash with comments from users around the world asking it to come to their city. Love’s priority is to build its presence in London with new types of events such as running clubs, and then take it to other cities in the United States.

It’s clear there’s an appetite for new ways to use dating apps that companies need to adapt to stay relevant and improve customer satisfaction, Mee said.

“Dating apps will have to think outside the box,” she said.