Thursday, 15 August 2019

27 Years of RSVP

It is amazing how fast 27 years goes, and how much changes in 27 years. Back in 1992, the internet wasn’t in every home, (forget wifi), John Major was Prime Minister, Bill Clinton was US President and Disneyland Paris had just opened. Also - and much more importantly, Dating Agency and Singles Club RSVP opened for business with dating and singles events in Northamptonshire. This was the brain child of recently retired Patrick McDonald; as a widower he struggled to meet like-minded single people. He wanted to combine both singles events with hand-picked introductions.

It may not come as a surprise to you, but this struggle still lives on for many single people today; many of our members hoped that the internet would help them find someone, but it's not as easy as it first appears. Over the 27 years, RSVP has expanded across different counties and the database of members has rapidly grown to over 26,000 lifetime members. 

So how did RSVP expand, from a one-man business in Northamptonshire to cover London, the Home Counties, West Midlands, Warwickshire, Cambridgeshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, etc? There are many answers for this; as the business built up momentum with successful matchmaking, the positive word of mouth from members helped growth through recommendations. The first adverts appeared in Birmingham Evening Mail and Birmingham Post. RSVP adverts also hit the airwaves on Heart radio.

In 1999, RSVP singles events had a revamp and, for the first time, there were different events taking place in different counties on the same day! We have continued this by hosting different events to offer our members a variety of choice in terms of distance and activity. Matchmaking was of course a busy area within the business and the RSVP’s Team of Expert Matchmakers steadily grew with the increasing member numbers.

Notably quite ahead of the curve in 1999, the first RSVP website went live. Only 13% of households in the UK had an internet connection at this time. The website was simple and concise with contact details and information about RSVP. Since then, the RSVP website has undergone several makeovers, most recently in 2017.

In 2000, probably the single biggest jump in RSVP’s enviable position occurred, with the acquisition of the Bedford-based agency, with which RSVP had enjoyed a close and mutually beneficial working relationship. At a stroke, RSVP added members in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire.

The next few years were spent consolidating RSVP’s position as the largest independently-run Introduction Agency in the Heart of England, building up membership in the areas already covered and offering matching and singles events Nottingham and Derby, together with increasingly sophisticated matching techniques.

In 2005, Patrick decided to retire after 13 years of building RSVP and in came husband and wife team Anne Stringer and Roland Stringer, who retained the original team, including office manager Gaynor. They gradually modernised the business and rebranded in 2006. A new quarterly 36-page colour singles events calendar was introduced. Specialist matching and event management software was embraced and RSVP continued to pair together many brilliant couples.

By 2009, the RSVP Head Office had moved from Burton Latimer to Oakham, as RSVP built up the membership base through matchmaking and singles events in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

As the years have gone on, many people ask whether there is still a place for a traditional dating agency when ‘everything is available online’. Our response is that there is definitely relevance in a traditional offline agency, when the online alternatives can be casual at best and dangerous at worst. We find that people who join a traditional dating agency are likely to be:

  • Committed to finding the right person.
  • Prepared to invest time, money and effort in that process.
  • Less comfortable with having their face and personal details on the public internet.
  • Pleased that we meet every prospective member.
  • Relieved that every RSVP member really is who we say they are.

RSVP has built up excellent partnerships with venues and thrown many memorable Singles Balls, Valentines Dinners and Driving Experiences. We have proudly assisted in getting our member’s ‘back out there’ and we always look forward to hearing from our members. Some members who haven’t been active for over 10 years still get in touch with updates every now and then.

In recent years, RSVP Head Office has moved again to a more secure site on Oakham Enterprise Park. In 2017, our website had a fresh make-over, bringing with it an influx in new members. Last year we launched our bespoke RSVP Platinum Head Hunting service which has proved to be very successful. 

And, bringing us right up to date, we are testing a new Members Website and App, which will be going live in the next few weeks.

To find out more about RSVP, simply fill out a few details here and a member of our friendly enquiries team will be in touch.