With the growth of on-demand apps such as Uber and Airbnb in the shared-ride and accommodations industries, respectively, it makes sense that similar software and websites have attracted the interest of corporations wanting to pair up massage therapists and massage clients. With these apps, clients and therapists are finding each other for on-demand sessions.
Using a smartphone, tablet, computer or pad, clients can book a massage while the booking company handles all marketing, payments and other overhead associated with using the app. These back-office tasks are all handled on the therapist’s behalf.
Some popular online booking apps, including Zeel and Soothe, operate with a mobile-massage business model that allows clients to choose a home or business location where they will receive appointments. Others, such as Whittl, allow clients to book massage at the therapist’s session room. Massage therapists are hired as independent contractors and paid per appointment by the app company.
Zeel does business in New York, New York; Long Island and The Hamptons; throughout Florida; Southern California; San Francisco; New Jersey; Chicago; and Connecticut. Soothe currently operates in several California cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco; Miami, Florida; Phoenix and Scottsdale, in Arizona; and Austin, Texas. However, the company intends to expand into “every major city in the United States and Canada,” according to its website.
Zeel works with more than 3,800 massage therapists, according to Vice President of Communications Marcy Lerner. Zeel requires ID verification of all clients, Lerner said, adding, “We do this to provide peace of mind to our therapists as they travel to private homes, hotels and workplaces.”
The companies developing these apps and offering bookings may promise massage therapists streamlined marketing, access to new clients or no-stress billing services. For some therapists, these services offer their businesses a boost with relatively little risk. Clients love the ability to book massages quickly and conveniently.
“There was pretty much no downside,” said Zoe Reese, L.M.T., owner of Windy City Massage, a mobile spa-and-massage practice in Chicago, Illinois.
Reese made the decision to try the booking app Whittl after the app company contacted her. After a trial period, Reese was convinced that using a booking app was right for her business. Whittl now handles much of Windy City Massage’s marketing, booking and payments. Reese only pays Whittl for each booking, and she said the services are well worth the investment.
As a mobile business, Windy City Massage takes massage to clients on-site. Massage sessions are booked through Whittl and therapists provide services at the home, business or hotel location chosen by the client.
“We rely on being extremely fast and extremely proactive for our customers,” said Reese, “so [that] anyone can go and get a massage.” Reese says using a booking app is an important part of the mobile-massage business model, where booking convenience and accessibility are increasingly important to clients.
Apps Are Not for Everyone
For others, massage apps lose their utility as business grows. Jess Weagle, a massage therapist and owner of Deep Relief Massage Therapy in West Boylston, Massachusetts, used Zeel briefly but cancelled her app profile after, she said, not receiving timely communication from Zeel.
Weagle believes apps are not necessary for her business, given that many of her new clients find Deep Relief Massage Therapy by searching online.
“I don’t use booking apps [and] my site gets 550 visitors a day and clients just book online through my site,” says Weagle.
Is an App Right for You?
For massage therapists interested in developing an onsite, or mobile, massage business, a booking app could be a means of increasing business. Online booking streamlines appointment-setting for mobile and in-house massages, and can free a massage therapist up to concentrate on other areas of a practice.
About the Author
Kaitlin Morrison is a freelance health and wellness writer living in Moses Lake, Washington. A former chiropractic assistant and health care publicity person, she now follows her passion of informing and educating her readers about health care, business and marketing.