This is a guest opinion article by Rachel MacLynn, the founder of Vida Consultancy.
The world of dating is almost unrecognisable compared to 10 years ago, when I first took a detour in my career as a business psychologist, opting to help people with their love lives instead of their work lives. Ten years ago, I had just about heard of Match.com and there were but a handful of introduction agencies in the UK who catered for the more discerning clientele (some still using folders with printed profiles of eligible singletons to browse through). The USA, on the other hand, were ahead of the game.
Nowadays, I literally can’t keep up with the number of new offline matchmaking agencies springing up, not to mention the hundreds (perhaps thousands!) of online dating services. I can only imagine how daunting it is for single men and women to choose their method of finding a partner (online vs offline) let alone researching the available options. Choosing the right service is a matching process in itself!
There are so many factors to take into consideration:
- Time vs money. Free online services demand complete investment of your time to trawl through profiles. Professional matchmakers, on the other hand, conduct the search for you, but you pay a premium for their time.
- Online vs offline. Are you happy for your profile to be available to the public? The stigma previously associated with online dating is rapidly diminishing, so generally speaking people are less sensitive about the lack of privacy associated with online dating. But for some, the risk of their profile being seen by a colleague or friend is simply not one they are willing to take.
- Big brand vs boutique. Is it better to go for the big names in dating — eHarmony, Match.com and the like, which are household names, or opt for niche service, which could be a London-only dating app, or of course a high end matchmaking service such as Vida Consultancy?
I find that people who are new to the dating world (recently divorced etc.) go straight for one end of the dating industry spectrum i.e. either Match.com at one end, or a very exclusive matchmaking service at the other. Many people don’t seem to even know about the plethora of options in the middle that may actually be more suitable. As the industry matures, more clarity will be given to consumers about what types of services are out there, which in turn will enable people to research and select the most suitable option(s) more appropriately, leading to improved experiences and ultimately success in finding a partner.
Once someone has selected their service of choice, how can we, as an industry optimise their experience? This is where I am delighted to observe dialogue opening up between the online and offline worlds. At its most extreme, online and offline are polar opposites. The geniuses behind dating sites and apps are scientists, developing complex algorithms to help consumers find their match. It is high volume and automated — completely impersonal. Well, it was in the early days. Matchmaking on the other hand, is very personal. Clients of elite agencies have their matchmaker’s number on speed dial. The matchmaker is there, by their client’s side, taking them through the whole journey. The matchmaker becomes a concierge, a best friend, a confidante, a headhunter and a coach. But every introduction that is set up takes hours, if not days of painstaking research, vetting, profiling, setting up and finally gathering feedback on how the date went.
The last couple of years have seen a dramatic change in the dating industry landscape. Match.com started running singles events, but much more than the naff singles parties of yesteryear — today’s events offer unique experiences as a backdrop. At Vida, I never thought I would be persuaded to run events, for the very reason that I thought they were naff. Then I met Barbara Brudenell-Bruce who convinced me otherwise. She set up Vida8, the events arm of Vida and her events have become so popular that our most recent event had over 100 guests and a near-perfect split of men vs women.
There are pros and cons to every dating service. From the multiple conversations I have had with dating app entrepreneurs, there is indication that the industry is heading in the direction of an ultimate service — a hybrid of offline, online and events. I for one can’t wait to see what the next few years will bring to this ever-evolving and growing industry. Watch this space!
By Rachel MacLynn
Rachel MacLynn is a chartered psychologist turned professional matchmaker, who founded award winning Vida Consultancy just five years ago. Today, she and her all-female management team run a global business with over 5,000 high net worth members.
Rachel’s company, which is headquartered in London’s prestigious Mayfair, and has consultants around the world, has recently won ‘Matchmaking Agency of the Year’ in the 2016 European Dating Awards. Vida has also garnered nominations for the most coveted industry awards including three nominations in the recent UK Dating Awards and a further nomination in the iDate Awards which took place in Miami in January.
A regular industry speaker, she was appointed to the Advisory Committee of the Matchmaking Institute in 2014, and is part of the training team for matchmakers. On September 23rd 2016, Rachel MacLynn and industry peer, Genevieve Zawada (CEO of Elect Club) will be co-delivering the Matchmaking Institute’s Certification Training Programme for up to 30 aspiring matchmakers along with Matchmaking Institute Founder, Lisa Clampitt and CEO, Arlene Vasquez.
For further information and registration details, click here.