Startup wants to be OpenTable for services firms

GramercyOne is taking a SaaS scheduling platform built for spas into new markets

Startup GramercyOne is taking an on-demand scheduling and CRM application first created for spas into a number of other verticals, in hopes of becoming the equivalent of restaurant-reservations hub OpenTable for services businesses.

The SpaBooker platform will serve as the basis for a series of similar offerings for medical facilities, music schools and other businesses that revolve around scheduled blocks of time, said Josh McCarter, CEO of the New York company.

SpaBooker was originally created by spa marketing vendor SpaFinder in 2008 and has since garnered more than 2,000 customers in 30 countries, according to the company. SpaFinder decided to spin off GramercyOne as a separate company in order to market the software more broadly.

The platform's scheduling engine had to be sophisticated enough to meet the needs of spas, given variables such as the availability of rooms, equipment and employees, said GramercyOne chief operating officer Daniel Lizio-Katzen.

In addition, SpaBooker contains CRM (customer relationship management) capabilities, point-of-sale and mobile payment processing, and marketing tools such as integrations with Facebook and Twitter.

The social networking hooks will allow customers to conduct on-the-fly marketing efforts, particularly to target periods when business is slow, Lizio-Katzen said. The software enables customers to fire off promotional coupons and offers to Twitter and Facebook.

While it offers some of the same capabilities as CRM applications like Salesforce.com, it is not meant as a replacement and the two software platforms can easily be integrated, McCarter said.

However, for some smaller companies, Salesforce.com "is overkill," he added.

SpaBooker and the new applications will likely replace "pen and paper" processes at services businesses, as well as legacy applications, he added.

The software is currently available as an integrated suite but the company is "absolutely intending to break it out into a la carte sales," Lizio-Katzen said.

GramercyOne's plans serve as a case study for how small ISVs can expand their horizons, and also reflect a general desire among CRM-related vendors to target more verticals, said 451 Group analyst China Martens.

Pricing for GramercyOne's spa, salon and fitness versions starts at $US25 per month, but that level leaves out features, such as payroll management, which are available in a Professional Edition costing $60 per user per month. Customers that want to integrate the platform with other software can gain API (application programming interface) access by purchasing an Unlimited edition, for which pricing was not disclosed.

The pricing models for future vertical editions will "evolve based on business type and the market," according to a spokeswoman.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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