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Zeel brings convenient massages to tense Bostonians

The company that created Massage on Demand, Zeel announced its launch in Boston on Monday. PHOTO COURTESY 05COM/FLICKR
The company that created Massage on Demand, Zeel announced its launch in Boston on Monday. PHOTO COURTESY 05COM/FLICKR

As more companies begin specializing in the art of straight-to-your-front-door service, one company wants to do more than stand idly outside. Zeel wants to come in.

An in-home massage service, Zeel has made a name for itself in many cities throughout the United States, and Boston is next. The on-demand company launched their Boston branch Monday, hoping to continue targeting customers that “prioritize convenience and location along with quality,” said Marcy Lerner, Zeel’s vice president of communications and partnerships.

“Boston is one of the most important tech centers of the United States, and Bostonians are smart, busy and health-conscious — the perfect customers for Zeel,” Lerner said.

Dating back to 2010, founder and CEO Samer Hamadeh launched what would be his third startup and the precursor to today’s Zeel, Lerner said. The company started as a way to make alternative wellness therapies, from massage to acupuncture, more accessible through simpler bookings with licensed practitioners.

“Almost immediately, Zeel was swamped by requests for massage — same-day and often within hours,” Lerner said.

As the company developed, it became clear that a seemingly core aspect was lacking in the massage industry — convenience. For the company to thrive, it needed to bring its services to customers, whether in their home, dorm, office or elsewhere.

So came Zeel’s massage on demand. First launched in New York in 2012, it’s grown to the country’s edges, from California to Florida and now to Boston. Customers can book their massages through Zeel’s iPhone app or online with any of the more than 4,500 massage therapists working with Zeel, though many massage therapists also work at traditional spas.

“We believe that we primarily expand the massage market — people who are looking for a traditional spa getaway, or alternatively to combine other experiences with the massage, like facials and hair services — will continue to use traditional spas,” Lerner said. “Our customers prioritize convenience and location along with quality.”

When it comes to Zeel’s target customers, several Boston University students said they weren’t jumping to use the service, but they could see how the business would be useful for those who were.

“If I had my own apartment or my own house, I might use it because that would be really convenient,” said Jabari Evans, a freshman in College of Arts and Sciences who said using the service in his dorm room could be “awkward.”

“We live in a city, so it would be easy to have someone walk to your residence, rather than having to go out and get it,” he said.

Harini Natarajan, a senior in the College of Communication, was quick to dismiss the idea of using the company, but mainly because she’s not a fan of massages.

“I’m super ticklish, so massages are not my thing,” she said.

But similar to Evans, Natarajan appreciated the effort to make life a little easier for city-dwellers, even comparing the idea to the convenience of Amazon.

“People could still go out to the nearest electronic store to get stuff, but they don’t. They order it off Amazon. Why? Because it’s convenient,” she said.

Jordan Carter, a junior in College of Fine Arts, gave a discreet headshake when asked if he would use the service. Still, he said the business was a smart move.

“I don’t think of it as a matter of convenience anymore,” Carter said. “It’s just playing on people’s feelings and emotions. I think that’s what businesses are capitalizing on.”

Though Carter said companies like Zeel may be unnecessary indulgences, when it comes to successful business expansion, hitting a growing market is the way to start.

“Convenience is more profitable,” he said. “The business of convenience is booming.”

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