Many of us have used opentable.com to make reservations for a meal or fandango.com to research movies, but how many of us have booked a beauty appointment online? Or tried to find a one-stop site telling us about the best in town?
That’s the vision behind Beauty Booked, created by two former Maybelline executives, who aim to make booking beauty services online as simple—and individualized—as possible. They’re also looking to capitalize on the $40 billion-a-year beauty service industry, which relies mainly on the telephone to book appointments.
Beauty Booked, which is now available in beta on beautybooked.com, looks to not only provide location and price information about the best spas and salons in NYC, but content on each location, including reviews: places are rated on quality, cleanliness, staff and ambiance. Users can search by type of service, location and preferred date and time, from which comes a comprehensive list of available salons or spas that fulfill the criteria. The site also provides reviews published by beauty magazines and newspapers. In addition, Beauty Booked’s in-the-field staff reports on certain intricacies that differentiate each beauty spot from one another. For example, reviews will call out which manicure locations accept tips on credit cards. And as its name suggests, capability to book appointments is a key feature.
The brainchild of Hillary Hutcheson and Ritika Gill is based in its newly-secured offices in the Garment District. Looking for investors will begin the first quarter of 2013.
“There’s a huge angel investor network in the New York tech scene. You get to know people who can bring a strategic value, to the business, not just capital,” said Ritika.
The idea for a discovery website came when the two were invited to attend a prestige event after work. As both worked late hours, they were hard pressed to find a site devoted to salon and spa information. A light bulb went off.
“We got on the phone and tried to schedule beauty appointments. It was frustrating.We couldn’t find what salons were open late.We didn’t know why this was so hard.I mean you can make a reservation on opentable. But beauty for the most part is offline. You have to pick up the phone,” said Hillary.
Beauty Booked follows a membership model, as well as pay-for-play, which means members can sign up for free, and revenue is generated by a percentage of appointments booked. The site’s cut is significantly less that the industry average of 40 percent, the typical rate at Daily Deals, which mainly attracts one-time customers looking for a deal. Hillary said. “Not only are we not discounting, we are taking significantly less and driving more qualified /non-deal seeking customers.”
They currently employ 10 people, not including a network of in-the-know beauty mavens who help visit and rank prospective clients.
While the site is still young—some searches only yield a handful of options—Beauty Booked has a robust roster for the second quarter.
“Because we want to offer consumers real-time appointments at the best salons and spas, our technology needs to integrate seamlessly with the back-end scheduling platforms of these establishments, which takes time. We currently have a waitlist of salons & spas requesting to be included on the site and will be adding several hundred establishments in the spring, which will significantly increase appointment inventory,” the company said.