Calester: Make Event Discovery Fun Again!

Life in a city can get boring after a couple of years. Malls, cinemas, restaurants, beaches – the experience of visiting those places gets predictable real quick. The new outlets that open up at regular intervals usually won’t veer far away when it comes to being a fresh concept either.

For me, local events ended up adding variety to the mix. One day it’s a stand up comedy and next day it’s a Twitter unconference (definitely no Operas and musicals though!). There seems to be a lot of them happening all over the place, but as usual, with plenty comes the problem of discovery.

Calester is hard at work to help you and your friends find events around you that could be so much fun. Does the app tackle the problem of event discovery effortlessly? Let’s go check it out!

Event Discovery

I wouldn’t say there aren’t any other ways to find events that happen in the city you live in. The quickest way to discovery is visiting event registration sites (like Eventbrite) and go through their listings. The problem is you’ll have to cut through a ton of clutter to get to the event listings that excite you and you’ll have to visit each one.

Calester makes this search of yours painless by offering a simple workflow and a gorgeous user interface. And, you get to invite your friends to join you in a single click as well. Talking about single clicks, I got in using my Google account. Immediately after, I was taken to a page from where I can invite my Twitter and Facebook friends to events.

It’s a nicely designed page and sending out invitations is definitely a must have. But, it just made me wonder why would I want to invite somebody to an event that I haven’t yet selected? Looks like this step is misplaced a bit. Not a very big deal, but it adds to the number of steps involved in event discovery and cutting down as many steps as possible could be a USP for an app like Calester.

Creating Groups

Groups and Events

Groups and Events

I was happy to see that Calester focused on organization as much as the social part of the equation. Based on your tastes and interests, you can create groups and add multiple events of the same genre in them. To save you some time, the app lists out the contacts from your Google address book in the groups creation page itself. This way, you can automatically align your friends who’ll be interested in that particular genre. Good thinking!

Event Discovery

Predictably, you’ll need to submit your location to shortlist events. To smoothen the process, Calester lets you filter events by broader categories. Frankly, the categories are a bit too broad and it would be great to see more, precisely defined sub categories in the future.

Beginning Event Discovery

Beginning Event Discovery

I reiterate – Calester’s gorgeous user interface makes otherwise cumbersome event discovery so much fun. The app aggregates events from multiple sites and lists them all in a chronological order. By default, the app searches events on the current date. You can change that, but unfortunately the search is limited to one date at a time.

The listings were a mix of free and paid events. All details pertaining to the event are pulled from the event registration site complete with a link to enroll to the event. A row of sharing buttons at the bottom of each event make sharing the event whole lot easier.

Event Details and Sharing Options

Event Details and Sharing Options

Besides sharing, Calester assists you in adding the event to a calendar so that you can stay on top of your engagements all the time. However, I couldn’t locate that calendar inside the app though. Following a hunch, I visited my Google Calendar and there it was! Some sort of notification would have been nice.

And, you can add events to the respective groups using a nifty drop down menu that accompanies all listings.

Final Thoughts

I have a set of features in my wishlist for Calester. A full blown calendar (or atleast an embedded Google Calendar), either for each group or a consolidated one for all groups is a must have. The event discovery options are great and the search is executed at a lightning fast speed. However, once the search results are displayed, it gets a bit tedious to drill down the entire list.

Filters or tags to fine tune event listings based on pricing, genre, timing etc. will make Calester a complete event discovery app. And, what happens after inviting my friends for an event? How am I gonna keep track if someone is joining me or not? Sure, the conversation happens outside the app (via email, Twitter or facebook). But, it makes sense to have an option to mark the names of people joining me from the Groups and events page.

I am not holding anything against Calester for not having some of this obvious features. It’s a beta app and I am hopeful the developers have the same set of features in their roadmap as well. The 9 out of 10 they got today is for solving a problem with finesse.

As I mentioned above, you can visit event registration sites one at time and find what you want to do. Or, you can just sign up with Calester, let the app do all the hard work and spend your time having loads of fun instead!


Summary

Calester is a nifty tool that lets people easily plan activities & find things to do.

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