Evite.com Upgrades to Event Planning

SAN FRANCISCO (05/03/2000) - Looking for an excuse to have a party? Evite.com, launched as an invitation service, now can help you put together a bash and even suggest reasons to have one.

Today, Evite Inc. unveils version 3.0 of its service. The upgrade builds on its invitations service to offer what it calls an online activity center.

Evite has gathered information on more than 140 different types of events, and offers it as a resource to guide you through the process of planning the event.

If you're not sure what kind of event you'd like to host, Evite can help you out there. The site lists upcoming events (for example, Cinco de Mayo is approaching fast), along with suggestions of how to celebrate. It also has a reminder service that will send you an e-mail message before an event.

Evite provides links to other Web sites where you can buy whatever you might need for any type of event, and the revamped site offers links to offline retailers as well. Version 3.0 features local listings, which allow you to search restaurants, activities, or stores in your area.

Evite's goal is not to provide all of the information on its site; instead, it wants to point you in the right direction.

"We're not trying to provide everything," says Josh Silverman, the company's chief executive officer. "We're providing resources to the information that you need."

Checking It Out

I tested out Evite's new resources by planning a Saturday afternoon trip to see a Red Sox game, followed by dinner. I chose "Sports & Outdoors" from the Ideas and Planning section on Evite's home page, and Evite produced a page of specific events.

I clicked on "Baseball Game," expecting to be taken to a page where I could plan my outing. Instead, Evite sent me directly to a page for creating an invitation. I hit the Back button on my browser, and saw that underneath the list of activity choices were the resources I had expected. It wasn't exactly where I thought they'd be, but they were still helpful.

Evite provided a link to Tickets.com, where I could purchase tickets; and a link to Sportsline.com, to see the latest scores. This was also where I found the "Let Us Help You" section with links to offline resources.

I found a list of restaurants near the ballpark using this tool--you can search by city, then narrow down to a specific area and/or a type of cuisine. My only disappointment with this service was that I couldn't include my list in the invitation I sent out. I would have liked to send the list to all the invitees so they could vote on a restaurant. You can ask questions in the invitation that you send, but a polling feature is not available. It will be available in a future version, according to Evite representatives.

The invitation service, its original tool, is where Evite really excels. I simply filled in e-mail addresses for my guests, added the when and where details, and chose a background design for my message (you can now choose from a gallery of suggested themes or pick the colors yourself). The invitation can offer a choice of dates for the event, and your guests can reply with comments.

As the organizer, you can choose to receive e-mail alerts when your guests RSVP.

The invitations are fun and easy to use, and Evite's new planning services link you to useful tools. My only wish is to see better integration between the two.

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