No lineup at your door? One is now just a click away

By Jeni Marinucci

You see a huge line outside the restaurant or bar you’ve been looking forward to visiting. In most cases, you’d turn and walk away, preferring to eat somewhere you are likely to get a seat. But not everyone – nor every business owner – thinks this way. For some, a lineup outside an establishment is a good thing – a great thing, even – because it is thought to build buzz and indicate that whatever is going on inside is worth standing and waiting for.

No lineups forming outside your eatery? That doesn’t seem to be an issue now, because with the new Surkus app, you can buy one of your own. Yes; buy one. According The Spec, a lineup of your own is only a click or two away:

Surkus, an emerging app that allow(s) the restaurant to quickly manufacture its ideal crowd and pay the people to stand in place like extras on a movie set. They’ve even been hand-picked by a casting agent of sorts, an algorithmic one that selects each person according to age, location, style and Facebook “likes.”

Those in line are paid to participate, and while the Surkus app definitely raises several questions over the validity of manufactured experience, its effect seems to be working for many who have utilized the tool; over 4200 events have had Surkus attendees for 700+ clients since the app’s inception. Stephen George is the chief executive of Surkus, and he tells The Washington Post that users “can be paid as little as $5 and as much as $100, though the average for most events is between $25 and $40. Prolific users can earn as much as $4,000 a year.”

Social media has a way of presenting image and video posts that capture only the best moments of our lives – the most “polished” versions. Now with apps that get live bodies in place to participate in creating an artificial atmosphere, this phenomenon has moved into “real life” demonstrations which uphold that illusion. Sure, the participants could spend the money they’ve been paid to actually eat at the restaurant they’ve been hired to hang out at, but are “bought likes” really good for business?