Planning ahead? For wimps. If you're out on the town and want to see a show, there's a new service coming, Will Call, that will show you a small selection of events starting later that day, with guaranteed open seats--and with those seats available at a nice discount.
Like the other poor planner's friend, Hotel Tonight (story), Will Call is a smart yield management play. As founder Donnie Dinch said during his pitch at the 500 Startups event on Tuesday, 40 percent of all event tickets go unsold. At the last minute, Will Call puts warm bodies in chairs that would otherwise stay cold. Venue managers could love it (although I'm not sure how the company will navigate around TicketMaster).
For consumers, the app has a focus not on finding you everything available in town, but on listing just a few choices, and then helping you book and pay for your ticket in the Will Call mobile app. The demo was compelling.
Groupon and Woot show that selling very limited inventory at very specific times can be a powerful way to get people to buy. These services aren't about helping you find the 100% perfect thing, they're about finding you something enjoyable enough, and right the hell now. Timeliness is everything. In a world of way too much information and choice, these ultra-limited commerce plays feel liberating.
Speaking of limited, Will Call is in a very small closed beta right now, but if you want to get a handle on the way the service takes an overwhelming universe of choice and narrows it down into good-enough options that you can really use, do check out Hotel Tonight, the hotel reservation precursor to it (from another company) that I mentioned above. It's live now.
Where else (aside from the obvious, air travel) could yield management plays like this work?