What Are You Doing This Weekend? Hotlist Wants To Help You Decide

View the original post here: http://mashable.com/2011/11/09/the-hotlist-launch/
By Sarah Kessler
Nov.9 ( Mashable) For a simple question, “What do you want to do?” can take a long time to figure out. Hotlist, an app for iPhone and the web that launches Wednesday, wants to help users answer it without text messages, phone calls or marathon-length email chains.
The startup has created a planning dashboard that tells users what their friends are planning to do, what events are going on nearby and what the crowds at those events will look like. Unlike the beta version that launched early this year, it also includes a tool that helps groups coordinate a place and time to meet without excessive messaging.
All of these features are made realistically useful through an integration with Facebook, which allows users to include friends and events that aren’t registered on Hotlist. Hotlist cofounder Gianni Martire says that Hotlist has cataloged more than 100 million Facebook events that appear in venue searches and under the plans of Facebook friends. Clicking on an event will show photos of the people who have RSVPed on Facebook (though there’s intentionally no way to interact with them or learn their names, which would be creepy). The Eventbrite API is incorporated in the same way and the Meetup API will be added soon.
It’s possible, for example, to search for “Fundraisers happening this Sunday” and get a list of events from multiple sources in one place.
In addition to parties and events, Hotlist hopes that you’ll add your personal, non-event-related plans to its database. A Twitter-like feed incorporates the future checkin concept that startups such as Ditto, Crowdbeaconand ImUp4 have also embraced. Users indicate where they plan to be or where they’re thinking about going, and friends who follow them can browse their intentions to see if they’d like to join. Users can also follow venues in order to be updated on new events as they’re scheduled.
When making a plan using Hotlist, users can propose several different times and locations to those in their Facebook friends list. Like Doodle, group members vote on their preferences. Unlike Doodle, the process is handled through private Facebook messages, which are sent when a member is invited and after a decision is made.
Hotlist aims to be the default way to find out what is happening and who is going to be there. It plans to help build this status by offering plan-making widgets to venue websites and to monetize it with brand-curated lists.
But convincing people to use an additional service is always a hard sell, and text messages, emails and phone calls — inefficient as they may sometimes be — have a pretty strong hold on our habits. The startup has made a smart move by integrating Facebook in a way that makes it valuable before all of your friends use it, but is that enough? Martire is hoping that ease of use will trump habit.
“There’s no other way to do this easy and effectively,” he says. “Yes, you could just call a bunch of people, you could just text a bunch of people, but this is way easier.”