5 Steps to Hosting Speed Dating Events

By: Jake Friday April 6, 2018 comments Tags: speed dating, hosts, tips

In the era of online dating and impersonal swiping, speed dating offers a great compromise for singles.  They can find out if there is a “spark” in real life quickly, but not give up the possibilities of variety.

For businesses, hosting a speed dating event is a great marketing tool! These events provide some additional revenue on slow nights, and will brew goodwill among your single customers.  Our surveys have shown that 75% of respondents would likely return to the same restaurant or bar for their first real date after speed dating!  And, ZippyMatch makes hosting speed dating events easier than ever before.

Speed dating is a great way to boost a slow night.

Here’s how it works:

1. Decide between digital or paper

Think about what happens after the event is over: somebody has to tell everyone who they matched with. And that someone is probably you! Or, maybe someone on your staff. If you don't want to waste your time or labor money manually figuring out who said "yes" to who, use ZippyMatch. We help you with the logistics of running your event - before, during, and after.  We also provide you with a sign-up page to help track interest in your event, and reporting to reach out to people after the event is over.

2. Advertise your event

Facebook is the natural advertising medium for speed dating events.  If you have an established fan page, we recommend pushing your event on your Facebook page.  Start marketing your event 2-4 weeks before your event.

Our restaurant and brewery customers have also found success in marketing in-store on menus, chalkboards, and other in-store signage.

3. Get set up for the big day

The layout of your event space is crucial to making the event easy to understand and navigate for your attendees.  There are three big things to think about when you setup your event:


If you are hosting an event with more than 30 people, you will likely need to have a dedicated check-in stand to help direct people to their seats.  You should also think about using a check-in stand if you have distinct groups (such as age groups). Name tags are a common feature of speed dating events, and can either have a dedicated table, or be part of the check-in process.

Seating is a critical piece to your event. In fact, we have an entire blog post dedicated to this: Setting Up Your Seating at a Speed Dating Event.

The Event Space

Most speed dating events have one gender sit, while the other rotates.  You know your space better than we do, but it’s easiest if people can simply slide from one table to the next, or jump out of their chair and into the next one a few feet away.

PA System or Bell

Depending on your venue size and number of attendees, you may want to consider using a PA system for explaining the rules and making announcements.  Regardless of these factors, you will need some sort of “signal” to tell people it’s time to move on to the next date. Most organizers use a bell, a bullhorn, or some other noise-making device.  You could also flash the lights. Be as creative as you wish!

4. Explain the rules

The rules are up to you, but speed dating events commonly use a few rules to make everyone feel more comfortable:

    1. Don’t exchange last names
    2. Don’t exchange contact information
    3. Don’t linger.  When the date is over, it’s over!
    4. Bored with your date?  Be respectful, it’s only 5 minutes!

5. Start!

Once everyone is seated and ready to go, start the dating!  You will need to decide how long each date will last. Most events last for 4-5 minutes.  You could adjust this time based on the number of attendees and how long you want the event to last.  After 4-5 minutes, ring the bell to tell people it’s time to move on. Do give people about a minute between dates to allow them to match “yes” or “no” to the person they just talked to.

Repeat until everyone has talked to everyone!

You’re done!  What happens next is up to you.  Restaurants and bars/breweries often find success in hosting a mix-and-mingle session after the speed dating is over.  Follow-up email marketing is a great way to drive repeat business, and to capture any “first dates” that may have been produced from your event.

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About the Author: Jake

Jake Wood is a software engineer and wannapreneur who enjoys traveling, hiking, camping, rock climbing, biking, and a slew of other Colorado-esque activities. He attended Northeastern University in Boston, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in computer science and entrepreneurship. Today, when he isn’t working, Jake focuses on choosing between paying off student loans or traveling. You can guess which one usually wins.