The local appointment space has a new entrant in the form of Austin-based HourVille. The start-up, created by several friends from UT’s business school, premiered at SXSW. It lets users book anything by the hour, including services, rentals, classes and places.
Users may use the service to “search locally,” “book and pay,” check out “profiles, reviews and ratings,” or “promote yourself.” One of the site’s most attractive features is a set of “Book Me” buttons that can be added to any Web site.
Mostly, it is a software company. HourVille’s “seller scheduler” software allows for both Web-based and manual entries; enables “auction” or “buy-now” pricing; and notifies businesses of potential reservations via their choice of phone messaging, or instant messaging. Since many sole proprietors sell different types of services (i.e., bartending and copyrighting), the scheduler can be set up with multiple services with different descriptions, prices and schedules.
While the service is free to both buyers and sellers, there is likely to be contextual advertising. Moreover, some value-added services can be applied, such as SEM. Fees may also be applied for transactions. Currently, buyers can prepay a portion of their reservations via PayPal.
To us, the hours theme may be a good calling card. Ultimately, it is a weird cut of the action in the services space. I don’t know that yoga classes should be listed side by side with a landscaper (or U-Haul truck rental). But the company is likely not to be doctrinaire about it.
In the meantime, it seems HourVille is set to happily collide on a course already set by start-up reservation companies such as GenBook and Booking Angel, as well as TeachStreet, the Seattle-based classes company that is moving up the value chain to include “local experts.”