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Holiday travel down, more people alone

L.A. dating Web site offers ways for 'nomads' to meet

Posted: December 1, 2009 7:05 p.m.
Updated: December 1, 2009 7:45 p.m.
 

Two Los Angeles-based companies, SocialBling.com and TheLEK.com, were concerned about how economic drawbacks may affect people's ability to travel home for the holidays.

Last month Maritz Travel announced only 23 percent of Americans plan to travel during the holidays, a three percent drop from the average over the past seven years. That amounts to 1,599,328 fewer people traveling according to the poll. All of these people will need to look for alternative plans or spend the holidays alone.

Stephanie Michele, founder of SocialBling, heard about TheLEK.com, a Los Angeles-based dating site through a friend and approached them with a plan to help people connect and meet new friends over the holidays.

"I knew TheLEK would like my plan," Michele said. "Their site feels completely different than most traditional dating sites. They give their members organic conversation starting points by letting members get to know each other by the activities and places they like to go, instead of focusing so much on a one-dimensional profile. I felt like they shared my passion for making it easier for people to connect."

The founders of the two companies sat down to plan and create "Nomads Unite." The program works as follows: People are invited to fill out a short questionnaire about what they would like to do for the holidays, who they would like to meet, and what they might want to contribute to the plan, i.e. a home to host a party in, a meal, group activity coordination, etc. Using the SocialBling(TM) process, information is gathered from the questionnaires to compare and match with others.

This information is then used to carry out introductions for participants at a special happy hour where a professionally trained SocialBling host will account for and know all people in the room.

"As transplants ourselves, we are more sensitive to it," said Chandler Evans, one of the co-founders of TheLEK.com, "There are close to 10,000,000 people in Los Angeles county and it is estimated that about 15,000 move here a month. For all those who are not going to make it home for the holidays, we want to bring them together so they can create a celebration of their own."

"I have lived in three states to date and I have spent a couple of holidays seasons alone as I was reestablishing myself in a new community," Michele said. "As much as you want to say, it's OK, it is no fun to spend the holidays alone. Holidays provide the perfect festive background to meet and enjoy new friends. Conversation flows easy as you share and compare holiday stories of the past, present and future."

The Nomads Unite program launched Nov. 30.

This story is posted in The Signal's SCV Raw section. Click here for more information about SCV Raw.

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