Last updated: 05:00 PM ET, Thu November 12 2015

Tech Of The Week: GetClose Messaging App Gives Travelers Back Crucial Time

Travel Technology | Gabe Zaldivar | November 12, 2015

Tech Of The Week: GetClose Messaging App Gives Travelers Back Crucial Time

Image via GetClose

While we have so many unbelievable tools at our disposal nowadays, the one thing that will always be at a premium is time. GetClose, a budding new app for your smartphone, is attempting to solve that very issue.

TravelPulse had the pleasure with speaking with GetClose co-founder and CEO Brian Szady recently. And he discussed, among many things, what was behind an app that allows you to message businesses in the area, forgoing the time suck that is waiting on hold or scouring the city for what you actually need.

And this writer tried it out for a week, turning a skeptic into a believer. Finding the hours of operation or when a restaurant throws their happy hour normally consisted of finding a phone number and then putting in a call.

Now it’s as easy as scrolling down and sending off a text message. The response came back quickly, which had to mean some Hogwarts-level magic was at play here. So we investigated.

Bu first, here is a video that beautifully describes this invaluable travel tool, which you can download for free for your iOS device.

Imagine getting off a plane, already late for that reservation you set hours ago. Or consider riding in your cab to your hotel needing to find a specific item that you forgot at home.

There is no need to look up numbers or call various businesses to get your answer. It’s now as simple as sending off a text message, allowing time for things that really matter.

Szady explained that vital time with the family was at the heart of what is now a fantastic mobile application: “What really got me into putting together GetClose is I have two young kids; I live in San Francisco in an old house. And we basically have old light bulbs. And the ability for me to load up the kids into the car, go to all the different hardware stores; try to see who has the light bulb in stock; find a parking space; unload the kids; do it again; do it multiple times. It just took too much time.”

Szady continues, “And none of us really have that much extra time, driving all over the place or calling places. So it’s really about how could we combine together the way that we all communicate with our friends and family, which isn’t through a phone call and save time and do that with businesses?”

Now you get a bit of that precious time back, which isn’t something you find easily.

Now we were confounded how this works, especially once you try it out and discover how simple and efficient it produces answers.

Szady explains, “We have a combination of technology and manual intervention.”

The co-founder continues on what happens behind the scenes: “We need to get a response to the user quickly and about 70 to 80 percent of responses and messages that come in can basically be responded to with simply a web search or a web algorithmic pull of information. The rest are things such as appointments or ‘Do you have this product in stock?’ that we actually have to filter through. And then we’ll place the phone call to that business and actually get the response for the user.”

From there, things become quicker and easier for the GetClose team: “What we then do is we build out the profile of that business and say now that we know this business has ‘X’ next time that question comes in. Now it’s a much more automated process to enable that response to occur quickly. So it’s a combination of human and technology on the backend.”

And if there is no answer to be readily had, well there is a solution: “We always try to get something back to the user whether we can find the answer easily or not—at least so you know something is happening.”

If that store you were interested in is closed, you will get a response telling you so and then GetClose will get you an answer as soon as one is available, which beats scouring your phone’s browser for a number, using valuable data, only to find that there is no answer to be had.

And speaking of data, the CEO relayed that some businesses offer SMS messaging: “We will allow a business to respond to their own messages if they want. And when a business comes onboard with us, we provide them with their own SMS number. So their customers don’t even need the application, they can simply use SMS.”

And GetClose can handle more than just simple queries. As Szady relayed, the app has been posed a wealth of messages: “There are a number of cases that are pretty typical. One is ordering food for pick-up. Secondly are appointments, reservations. Third is ‘Hey, we are going to be a little late and yet we are still coming.’”

Yes, you can even send off a text to have your burger and fries ready for pick-up, saving you time that is usually wasted by being put on hold.

Or, as Szady recounted, figuring out how to change a battery on his Saab became infinitely more efficient.

But it’s about to get a whole lot more immersive. First, and most important, the company is planning on bringing the app to Android within the first quarter.

But there is a lot more in the works as well: “As we move forward we are going to do deeper and deeper integrations into more and more products that actually augment the experience, such as delivery mechanisms, automated reservations, credit card processing, etc. All within the message thread.”

All of this is aimed at giving time back to the user with an app people absolutely love. Szady even left us with a wonderful anecdote that took place recently.

The CEO offered: “We got a note from a woman who was able to spend an extra hour with her kids just before Halloween because the night before she didn’t have to drive all over the city to find the last piece of the Halloween costume... Something like that is really powerful.”

We remain busy travelers, flying and driving around the world for business or pleasure. The one thing we need more than that selfie stick, carry-on luggage or lavish amenity at the hotel is time: Time with the family, time for yourself or just time to enjoy your travels.

Well time opened up. How are you going to use it?


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