Why a dating app has an entrance fee and the story behind it.
Step into Fairytrail and you’ll soon meet a park ranger …
On Fairytrail, all users are asked to pay an entrance fee after a certain number of adores. Luckily, the entrance fee is only $2.99.
Our app is similar to a virtual nightclub / national park. You come here to explore and meet awesome people from around the world. We work very hard to bring you great people, keep the place running, and provide customer service. Once you buy a ticket to enter, you’re in and can stay as long as you like.
However, we also made the app to be 100% for free for anyone who can’t afford to pay and is sincere. Wholesomeness is at the heart of Fairytrail.
I grew up poor and am forever grateful for the kindness in people. One of my favorite childhood memories was attending summer camp– it’s hard to describe how amazing it was to sleep in a cabin (top bunk), go canoeing and tubbing, collect the daily ration from the tuck shop, sing by the campfire, and form the purest of friendships. It was all possible because of kind sponsors from the local church.
My life has been enriched by kind people. And as much as possible, I’d like to pass that on. We’re all in this world together. Although sometimes we can only see our own hardships, everyone has hardships. We can intentionally choose to be good to each other and make the world a friendlier place.
If you are not in a position to pay the entrance fee, reply to the welcome email and we will verify you manually to grant you free access.
If you’re interested in why we have an entrance fee, here’s the story …
Like many world wonders and national parks, Fairytrail started off free. Anyone could come in, explore, and enjoy. However, when we got to over 3,000 users, scammers started flooding into our world.
Even with 3 levels of fraud detection, it created heavy load for us and almost every day we received emails from people stating they had interacted with scammers. Some had been led on for weeks. Some felt violated. Some gave up on dating completely. They were heartbreaking stories.
Here are some emails with identifying information redacted that marked the arrival of scammers.
After reading many emails like these, we knew we had to fight back.
So we did what most dating apps won’t do– put up a paywall to fight scammers. Scammers would pay $3 and get disabled the next day (it takes some time for our fraud detection mechanisms to work). It was pretty cool to fight back and take money from scammers.
Soon, we saw a massive reduction in scam accounts being created. Emails like the ones above stopped coming in altogether.
We now have over 99.99% real users (based on fake/bad user reported and internal audits).
But it had a big cost for us too.
When we did this, it reduced our growth rate.
Not all real users want to pay. After all, there are free dating apps out there such as Tinder and Bumble. Some people didn’t trust us. Some people weren’t serious about dating. Some couldn’t afford it.
We were considering other verification systems such as phone number verification when we realized the paywall actually created a much better user experience. Perhaps people would want a dating app that has higher quality, more intentional people.
The truth is a dating app’s greatest asset is its users. A party is great because of the people at the party, and a dating app is great because of its users.
Here’s what we noticed:
1. People saved time and had a better experience.
Although we saw fewer users, we saw higher quality users. Since users paid $3, it meant they valued meeting someone (money talks). They completed their profiles. They intended to meet in person.
Users were wasting less time looking at low quality profiles. By cutting out just 10 low quality profiles which could be viewed for 2 seconds by 10,000 people, we can save a total of 56 hours for our users.
This created a better overall experience— less time spent swiping per match.
One of my philosophies is life is precious so I hate wasting time. (That’s why we do everything we can to get people on life changing adventures as quickly as possible– things like not showing people who already skipped you, who aren’t active, who have incompatible preferences, etc.)
2. It fostered a respectful, caring culture.
When people paid for something, they valued it more. In Yellowstone National Park, tour guides used to give water away for free. Guess what happened? People wasted it and littered. So tour guides tried charging just 50 cents and people stopped leaving half empty bottles all over the place. Suddenly, people cared.
Tour guides were able to help people change their mindset and behavior to care by charging a nominal amount.
To end toxic dating culture, we can’t think of people as free anymore. And we won’t because we paid a price.
3. It provided a premium experience and choice for consumers.
It feels good to spend money on yourself so you can have a premium experience. It feels great to be in the company of people who are ballers.
Almost all dating apps are free, so there’s very little choice for consumers who want quality over quantity.
Now for the first time, there is a premium dating app so you can meet quality people. And the interesting thing is women are just as willing to pay as men. In fact, we have 55% women on Fairytrail.
Fairytrail is a place for people who are sincere in their quest for love and adventure. 99% of our active users pay the entrance fee and about 1% opt for the manual verification. It currently takes me 2.5 minutes to manually verify each user, so it does take several days for me to get to people. Thank you for your patience if you are opting for manual verification. I read each of my hundreds of daily emails, so no need to follow up unless it’s been a couple weeks.
I don’t believe the battle with scammers is over. They will constantly think of new ways to infiltrate our world and we will continue to fight them. For now, the entrance fee is working both in terms of keeping scammers out by draining their wallets and attracting sincere, quality people.
I care about everyone on Fairytrail and Campfire (our non-dating, social group). It’s a pleasure and honor to build this community together. Please continue to report bad actors and send me feedback, so we can improve your favorite dating and travel matching app. Our app is great because of its people, so thank you for making Fairytrail such a beautiful and kind place.
Refunds are not handled by Fairytrail. All app refunds are handled directly by the respective app stores. This is not something unique to Fairytrail. Android users can request a refund here. iOS users can request a refund here.
Taige & the fairy dream team