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Online invites, upgraded

Work & Lifestyle

The online invitation marketplace is a crowded one, with heavyweight Evite and a raft of smaller contenders all vying for their share. But a new site recently launched in the hopes of taking online invitations to a new level. Unlike most of its competitors, pingg is taking an ad-free approach to online invitations. With a library of more than 2 million unique images, it’s also focusing more on the appearance of its invitations, and incorporating more Web 2.0 features into managing the process. Users planning a party can use pingg’s basic email invitations and event management services for free. That includes choosing pre-designed invitations from among 50 or so event types, creating an event page with photos and video, managing RSVPs, accessing event reporting, linking to charity or gift registries, collecting money and sharing event details on Facebook. In addition to its basic services, however, pingg offers several customisation services for a fee, such as access to unique invitation designs and invitation printing, as well as use of photos from the pingg Plus+ library. pingg users can also choose to communicate with guests using SMS/text for a fee of USD 1.50 per 20 messages. pingg gets a commission from its gift registry partners (currently just Amazon); other revenue-adding features on the way include offering the ability for users to sell tickets to their event, and a white-label service offering pingg’s core functionality to other businesses. Cofounder Lorien Gabel explains: “We know that unrelated banner advertising detracts from the user’s experience and is one of the fundamental reasons online invites have not evolved. Our approach from day one has been to identify revenue sources that actually add value to the invitation and event planning process.” New York-based pingg just launched in February, so it remains to be seen how well its ad-free model will work. If nothing else, however, the site is further evidence of one of our favourite refrains: everything can be upgraded!



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