Swamped? Someone Will Get That for You.
From airline ticket sales to calendar scheduling, technology has replaced – or at least sidelined – the middle man. Now a new wave of service-driven applications has popped up on screens everywhere, set to satisfy luxury needs on demand. You may still require a personal trainer and stylist to help you put your best face forward, but the personal assistant has entered the virtual sphere, as represented by the four following service apps.
Situation: Wine and dine a client, stat!
The new app Resy, available for iPhone and Android, promises not just restaurant reservations, but hard-to-get reservations – think 7pm on a Saturday night – at in-demand restaurants, like chef Wylie Dufresne’s 56-seat Alder in New York’s East Village. From tech entrepreneur, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Eater co-founder, Ben Leventhal, Resy is billed as a handy tool for business travelers interested in eating at popular restaurants at the last minute. The app shows available tables within the hour and charges either nothing to reserve them, or anywhere from $2 to $50 per person. Integrated with Uber, the app also allows you to arrange a car to get you there, pronto.
Available markets: New York (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Hamptons), Los Angeles, Miami and Washington, D.C.
Situation: Rental car required, fast and furious
Launched in 2012, this Austin-based company aims to upscale the car rental experience both in physical product and service. It only rents WiFi- and GPS-enabled Audi A4s and paperwork is handled online, either at its web site or app (available for iPhone and Android) helping you or your Very Important Client skip the rental queue. Silvercar sends a text message or email upon your arrival at the airport with instructions for finding the car, which is either curbside pickup or a shuttle ride away. Scanning the QR code with the app unlocks the car, and off you go, although the company also has a staffer on hand to answer questions. No time to refill before drop-off? The company charges only the fill-up price, plus a $5 fee.
Available markets: Airports in Austin, Dallas (Love and DFW), Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, San Francisco and Fort Lauderdale, with Chicago launching in June and more promised (though undisclosed) by year's end.
Situation: You don’t have time for life.
The two-year-old courier service WunWun – short for “what you need, when you need” -- calls itself the “everything delivery app.” Its couriers will pick up your new Apple watch, get the flowers for your mother or stand in line for you at Shake Shack. As most restaurant and retail deliveries take place via bike, you might have trouble getting an 110-inch Samsung TV, but most deliveries, it says, happen in under an hour during operating hours (generally 10am to 11pm). Customers pay retail rates for their purchases plus distance charges based on the number of zones – predetermined on WunWun maps -- through which the courier travels. Mandatory gratuities are pegged at between five and 20 percent, depending on the purchase, with a base rate of $4 and varying surpluses in peak hours.
Available markets: Portions of San Francisco, New York and, in summer, the Hamptons.
Situation: Keeping the party lubricated
Running out of bubbly after your successful IPO launch? Fear not deflating spirits. Drizly will come to the rescue, offering delivery of booze, beer and wine to dying parties across the country. Born in 2013, the app, available for iPhone and Android, makes inventory available from its local retail partners and though delivery times vary with traffic, it says most are made within 20 to 40 minutes. Those who manage to plan ahead can order up to 48 hours in advance, and the service touts itself as a convenient local courier during gift-giving season. Since retailers pay to be in Drizly’s network, users pay only retail for the hooch order, plus a small delivery fee, ranging from free to $5.
Available markets: Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Boulder, Chicago, Denver, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, New York, Providence, Seattle, St. Louis, Washington D.C. and Vail.
Chicago-based Elaine Glusac covers travel and transit for The New York Times and National Geographic Traveler.