Online party planner delivers invitations directly to inboxes

Amanda Auerbach

“Eviting” is a rising trend on Northwestern’s campus that has become a common term among students.

The site – www.evite.com – was originally intended as a corporate tool, first popular with the “Silicon Valley techie circle,” said Heather Soule, the company’s public relations manager. She said there recently has been a demographic shift toward college campuses.

Evite.com is a free event-planning Web site that was launched in 1998. InterActiveCorp, which owns Web sites such as Ticketmaster and Citysearch, bought Evite.com in 2001.

“It really is the most comprehensive place on the Web, with all the tips and tools to help you plan a party,” Soule said.

In 2005, 125 million invitations were sent through Evite, she said.

The site offers clear instructions for sending Evites and planning parties. There are also several default options included in setting up an event, such as a visible guest list or the possibility for guests to add their own guests. It also includes a venue review from Citysearch and a map of the location sponsored by MapQuest, which is not an IAC business but has a partnership with the site.

Eimear Lynch, a Medill sophomore who sent about 12 Evites to coordinate a Secret Santa with friends, said it was easy to use the Internet service.

“Normally, Secret Santa things get screwed up because people know (who their Santa is),” said Lynch, referring to assigning secret Santas by hand. With electronic invitations, it was no longer a problem.

Evites can be sent for anything. NU groups, including fraternities and sororities, use Evites for functions such as parties, bar nights and other fund-raisers.

Many students said Evites were a good publicity tool.

“They make it easier to get the word out,” said Chris Hagel, a Weinberg senior. He said they allow hosts to inform a large number of people about an upcoming event in a short period of time.

But at least one student said electronic invites can be brushed off easily.

“I don’t think people take them that seriously,” said Laura DePriest, a Weinberg sophomore. “It’s kind of an anonymous way to be invited.”

But other students, such as Communication sophomore Dena Oaklander, said they liked seeing Evites in their inboxes.

“They make invitations feel more personal because you’re on a designated list,” she said.

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