Nowadays you can get a lot of things done on demand with a mobile app. You can get a ride on demand, you can get groceries on demand… you can even get your laundry done on demand through an app. So why not book a same-day massage on-demand?
A new app smartly called “MassageNow” was designed just for that purpose. The app, which was developed by local services startup Locality, enables customers to book a massage appointment with just a few hours notice, and also frequently at a deep discount to what they would usually pay.
The app works to find unused inventory at nearby spas in San Francisco and fills them up at a flat discounted rate. Massages cost $60 through the app, which is below what participating spas would normally charge. The only catch is that you don’t know which spa you’re booking the massage at.
For the service provider, the app is filling up time that a masseuse would normally spend not making any money. But while filling that slot, anonymizing it before booking serves to keep users from seeking discounts at a particular spa they would have gone to any way.
That makes MassageNow kind of like Priceline for the massage market. You can’t pick the venue or even necessarily the type of massage — it’s all based on availability. You just have to hope you’re going to like the spa you’re booked at.
That’s a pitch not everyone will love. I know a few fans of massage who swear by a certain type of massage or have a specific spa they like to go to.
But Locality, the company behind the app, has done the work to curate the list to only spas with four-star ratings or above on Yelp. All of the spas that get booked in the app have also been pre-vetted by someone on the Locality team.
Originally launched as Centzy — at TechCrunch Disrupt, no less! — the company sought to cut through all the B.S. of the local services market and to create a database of reliable pricing and availability information for small businesses throughout the U.S.
It essentially aimed to create a “Kayak for local services” that would allow users to make booking decisions without having to search through various online forums like Yelp for information on the service providers. And, since less than 10 percent of small businesses even have their own web presence, Locality was providing a new way for them to reach their users.
Now armed with that information, the company can offer up other interesting products. Like, for instance, a “massage on-demand” app. Since it already has a relationship with the local businesses, it can act to help secure them new clients with a minimum amount of hassle.
Massage is a very specific niche, but it’s betting that it can get more casual massage fans to go more often if they’re getting a good deal — even if it’s not at their usual place. And if the customer decides to book their next appointment directly with the spa, then the company has shown it can provide more value to local businesses.
If the launch of MassageNow goes well in San Francisco, you can expect the company to expand to more markets over time, and possibly even other verticals. That could mean discounted on-demand haircuts, or maybe manicures, or something similar. For Locality, it’s all about trying new ways of connecting consumers with local businesses.