Speed Dating. You’ve probably heard the term floating around. You’ve maybe even had a few friends meet through speed dating. You might have imagined a date on a rocket ship hurtling through space, or aboard a Japanese bullet train? Maybe even a date whilst riding in a Formula One car? Those certainly would be speedy dates, but that’s not exactly what’s available when you go on a speed date. Speed dating is largely credited with injecting a little fun back into the dating scene and it has grown in popularity ever since its first outing in the late 1990’s, largely due to coverage on a number of television programs.
What is ‘Online Speed Dating’?
Since the growth of the internet dating market generally, ‘Online Speed Dating’ has also grown in popularity and has started to attract a large share of the online dating market.
Broadly speaking there are two types of online speed dating site: firstly, sites that connect users with speed dating events in their local area and, secondly, sites that offer speed dating services online using webcam, chat room and audio chat features.
Although these services don’t always allow users to meet each other ‘face-to-face’ (even virtually!), users are generally happy with what’s on offer – making them perfect for new and experienced online daters alike. Some sites will offer a mixture of these options, allowing you to browse members online, perhaps even chat to them, and then arrange to meet at an event in real life.
The sites which offer an events-only option tend to be free to use, but will usually charge a fee to attend a speed dating event in your area. In comparison, the online dating options usually come with a monthly subscription fee, so it’s important to consider what you’re looking for and how much it will cost, before making any big decisions.
Even within a relatively small category like Speed Dating, the internet (although opening up a range of opportunities for all users) can often make it difficult to choose which site is suitable for a user’s specific needs. Because we have extensive experience in reviewing all kinds of dating sites, we can help you make the right choice. Our in-depth reviews, coupled with this general buying guide, ensures you have all of the information you need to make the right choice, every time.
What Common Features Should You Look Out For?
Although this buying guide isn’t intended to give users a complete picture of what to expect at every site (that’s the role of our site-specific reviews), there are a number of common features that our readers should look out for when checking out our individual reviews. The most important features, along with a brief description of why they are useful, are considered below:
1) Photo Profiles
Photo profiles are the mainstay of most online dating sites and the same is sometimes true of online speed dating sites. These profiles allow users to find out as much information about other users as they like, including checking out photos and videos and learning about what really makes them ‘tick’. Users can also create their own profiles to help give a true idea of what sort of person they are, meaning a great profile is essential to ensuring that they get the best out of their membership of a particular site.
Profiles are available with some of the sites we’ve reviewed in this category, but, more often than not, the sites are aimed at telling you about live events and selling you tickets to attend. Once you’ve found a match at that event, you might then have access to a member’s information, profile and photos. Check what kind of service is provided by each site, if this element is important to you.
2) Mail, Instant Messaging & More
Once you have met the perfect match, it’s essential that the site you have joined lets you contact them quickly and easily using a range of different methods. The best sites will offer an in-site mail service, along with a great instant messaging function that makes getting in touch with other members a breeze. Look out for sites that offer these functions, as well as a number of other communicative and community based functions, such as chat rooms and message boards in order to make it easy to get to know other users.
A handful of sites also offer audio and video options so you can see who you are speaking to, and hear their voice. However, this is less common and if you’re interested in a greater range of webcam dating websites, you can find them in other dating categories on No1Reviews.com. Again, it’s worth remembering that some of the sites won’t provide you with their members’ information until after a speed dating event, guaranteeing a level of security for all members, as well as making sure your details aren’t just available to anyone who wants them.
3) ‘Speed Dating’ Features
These ‘speed dating’ features are what specifically makes these online speed dating sites, as opposed to simply being regular online dating sites. These features come in two major forms, reflecting the style of sites available within this category. Firstly, such features can take the form of specialist software that allows members to virtually “meet” others (using webcams, microphones or through chat rooms) and chat with them for a specified period of time before being required to make a decision as to whether to speak with them again. Alternatively, sites may simply offer detailed listings of events happening in their local area, opening up speed dating to a wider online audience. Of course, sites may combine both of these types of features, along with other complementary features, to give the best opportunity of finding a date.
4) Matching Services
While most sites will use search functions or a ‘randomizer’ to link up potential matches, some sites offer matching services, which give another way of finding the perfect match. These functions take information included on a member’s profile and use it to find another user registered with the site that seems like a good match.
Whilst these functions aren’t always successful in joining together successful matches, it certainly is a great way to generate conversation – look out for them! For the most part, though, matching works through live events. Essentially you attend a speed dating event, and tick the names of anyone you’d like to meet again. If they did the same for you – bingo! – the site will put you in touch with each other and you can take it from there.
5) FAQs and Technical Support
Although this set of features is by far not the most exciting we will consider in this guide (or indeed in our reviews), adequate provision of technical support and other customer service support is important to ensuring that customers have a good overall experience. Although all of the sites we have reviewed in this category have a good general level of service, it’s always a good idea to ensure you are signed up to a site that can help you get back up and running quickly and easily in the event of any issues cropping up. If you’re not sure how an element of the site works, you may wish to contact customer services. The best of these websites will offer a variety of ways to get assistance, including an FAQ, helpline or online chat with a member of the support team.
Are You Worried About Privacy, Safety and Anonymity Online?
While the internet has certainly provided a great number of additional dating opportunities, it has also created additional problems (particularly security issues) that are of concern to many users. Although almost all users who make use of online dating services will do so without encountering problems of any kind, a small number may experience issues and thus, they should always look out for sites that offer the best in security and privacy features to mitigate against any potential risks.
As a general rule, look out for sites that allow users to block other users if they are not suitable, keep all personal details safe and allow users to customize their privacy settings according to their preferences. Finally, users themselves should exercise caution with regards to their own personal details in order to ensure they stay safe online. You’ll find, however, that a lot of speed dating sites are very careful with their members’ details, and these won’t be handed out without your consent, and even then it will only be to members who you wish to talk to again.
What About Pricing & Free Trials?
The pricing structure used on the sites we have reviewed as part of this category varies considerably, with specific details of the cost of membership to each site being considered as part of our in-depth expert reviews. Also look out for information on the length of subscription offered in all cases, as well as the payment methods available.
As an aside, all sites we review in this category offer a free trial option, giving a chance to check out what the site is like without the need to pay for an expensive subscription. As we mentioned earlier, you’ll tend to find that sites offer one of two payment methods: you can pay a monthly subscription, or pay to attend an individual event. Check out the site’s newsletters and promotions to find out how you might save money.
The Bottom Line
As with many online services, choosing the perfect site should be based on a combination of all of the factors we have discussed here, as well as the information included in our site-specific reviews. Readers should find a site where they feel comfortable meeting others, where they have the opportunity to use a number of great features and of course, where the price is suitable.
While all the information needed will be contained in these reviews, we recommend you also sign up to the free trial options available on these sites to get a true feel of what membership to a particular site is really like. Most of all though, remember that these sites are designed to make meeting new people more fun, and easier. If a site just doesn’t feel right, or doesn’t have events in your area, try another one. The best of luck in finding someone special, and having some speedy fun along the way!