App for That

Are You On The List? App Keeps Unwanted Guests Out of Parties

"Do you know who I am?" isn't going to cut it anymore.

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Parties are fun, but getting past a phalanx of publicists and event planners can be quite a production, even for people with invitations.

Swiss startup founder David Becker realized this when he was throwing a party to fête one of his products in 2008.

“We had 1,000 people on the list and couldn’t get them in fast enough,” Mr. Becker told Betabeat. “We had stacks and piles of paper. The problem is always the same … the paper guest list.”

Those paper guest lists, he said, are “bad for guests, bad for the host, and bad for the brand.” So he and his cofounder, Daniel Dessauges, did what any self respecting tech aficionados would do: they created Zkipster, an app that makes the typical paper guest list obsolete.

To use Zkipster, event planners load names and, if they’re using the zFace add-on, photos of guests to a master list. Then, as guests start pouring into the party, the PR people at the door can check them off of the list, synching with all the other event planners to ensure there is no duplication.

Some event planners still rely on clipboards with long paper lists of names, resulting in long lines at the entrance. This might be good for building buzz, but it’s terrible for guest satisfaction. And it does nothing to dissuade interlopers from assuming fake names to get in, sending publicists scrambling when the real guests arrive and their names have already been checked off.

Zkipster was used at last year’s Art Basel festival in Miami and at 100 events during New York Fashion Week, and will also be present at the Cannes International Film Festival, as well as events surrounding this year’s Academy Awards. Oscars parties, Zkipster founder David Becker told us, are “the hottest parties in the world. It’s a big thing. People want to crash.”

The service isn’t free — it’s $75 per event, plus a $45 charge to use zFace. The services are available on iPad and Windows 8 tablets now, and an Android version is coming soon. The app will be in use at about 1,000 events this awards season, Mr. Becker said, with about 10 percent of clients using the zFace add-on. The company celebrated its one millionth guest check-in last year.

Maggie Swisher, a California event producer, is getting ready to throw a few Oscar parties through her company, Swisher Productions. She also organizes lots of exclusive premiers.

She loves that the iPads sync up automatically, so that people can’t check in using the same name at different entrances. Seating notes enable the publicists to identify VIPs more quickly, and to see if the venue is full yet.

“I’d never, never go back” to the paper-on-clipboard system, she says. “I would say that Zkipster iPad check-in has become as crucial to a small business as an American Express card. It’s a big piece of running a very smooth event.”

Guess we’d better rethink that plan to use Angelina Jolie’s name to get into this year’s Oscar parties, then.

Follow Molly Mulshine on Twitter or via RSS. mmulshine@observer.com