Speaking of scheduling, the team at the slick party invitation site MyPunchBowl continues to make up for past transgressions. While the initial release didn't let people invited to a party see who else was invited, an update in March fixed that, adding features that let the organizer control visibility into the invitation list. And today's update goes even further: it helps you pick a good date for your event by throwing options out to the invited guests.
MyPunchBowl's new "Pick a Date" feature is much more than an ultrasimple group time finder like Doodle (review), though. While users can indicate which times (chosen by the host) work for them, they can also denote certain options as "better." The MyPunchBowl Pick-a-Date feature shows other invitees where the "betters" are flocking, and it doesn't show the less-liked responses. This puts a social pressure on the guests: people can see what the crowd, on the whole, prefers, and people who come late to the scheduling activity will be more likely to adjust their own schedules accordingly. However, MyPunchBowl does keep track of all the nonpreferred times, and will move an event to one of those times if it makes sense for the group at large.
Moreover, MyPunchBowl allows the organizer to denote certain individuals as VIPs. These guests' preferences carry much more weight than everybody else's. That makes a lot of sense: If you're throwing a party for a particular person, you can denote that person (and his or her entourage, family, etc.) as VIPs, and the system will make sure their scheduling needs are met before the other invited guests.
It's also worth noting that the Pick-a-Date feature is not the same as the event invitation. I found this initially confusing, but it makes sense: before you craft your invitation, you want to get the date selected. It's part of the "life cycle of event planning," as MyPunchBowl founder Matt Douglas explains.
In sum: MyPunchBowl is damn clever. And getting cleverer.
Keep reading for a video from Douglas that explains the new feature.