Airbnb’s $13 million investment in Resy, the New York-based restaurant software company, is beginning to pay off.
Today, both companies announced they’ve teamed up to enable consumers to book restaurants on both the Airbnb mobile app and website.
The reservations, powered by Resy, will initially encompass nearly 650 restaurants in 16 markets throughout the U.S., including cities such as New York; Los Angeles; Washington, D.C.; San Francisco; Miami; and Seattle, among them. That number accounts for approximately 65 percent of the total 1,000 restaurants in 80 U.S. cities that are currently using Resy.
How It Works
Beginning today, a dedicated Restaurants tab on the Airbnb app and website will enable users to directly book restaurants by searching via cuisine type, time of day, and also using a map view. The function also takes advantage of smartphone global positioning system features with in-app localization.
All restaurant listings will also be translated into the appropriate language for users, making it easier for international travelers visiting the U.S. to use the app for making reservations.
Reservations can be for tables, prime seating, and prix-fixe dinners, and Airbnb noted that in the future it will consider offering exclusive tables for Airbnb users, as well as social dining experiences where guests can share a meal and meet other Airbnb travelers.
Why This Makes Sense for Airbnb — and for Resy
Adding the ability to book restaurant reservations on the Airbnb app and website is a natural extension of what Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky announced last year with the launch of Airbnb Trips: that Airbnb is much more than just a company that helps people find a place to stay.
Moving into the dining space, and providing travelers and locals alike with opportunities to meet over a meal, or to experience a destination through food, makes sense for the company, given its current push for expanding its Airbnb Trips division.
Partnering with Resy isn’t the first time Airbnb has dabbled in the dining space, either. In June 2014, Airbnb piloted group dinners for strangers, encouraging its hosts to throw dinner parties for travelers, with Airbnb taking a cut of the costs, as part of its development of what is now Airbnb Trips. Airbnb Trips today encompasses more than 2,500 experiences in more than 35 cities worldwide, many of them related to food and drink.
Giving the People What They Want
Moreover, Airbnb is responding to demand from its travelers for more food- and drink-related experiences, too. When Chesky asked, via Twitter, for suggestions on what else Airbnb should launch, many Twitter users asked for the ability to book a meal at a family home, attend an Airbnb supper club, get discounts at local restaurants, or check out an Airbnb pop-up restaurant.
Airbnb also noted that its guests alone have spent more than $6.5 billion in restaurants in 44 markets worldwide in the past year. Earlier this year, Airbnb noted that cooking experiences, in particular, have been among the most popular types of Airbnb Trips booked.
A recent Nielsen consumer survey of 2,083 U.S. adults, conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Airbnb, showed that two-thirds (66 percent) of American travelers make restaurant reservations when they’re away from home, and 39 percent would prefer to make those reservations online when they travel. The survey also found that 42 percent of U.S. travelers look for restaurants recommended by locals when traveling, and 52 percent would like to either dine out or cook in when traveling. Nearly a third (30 percent) said they have had difficulty finding good restaurants that are liked by locals when they travel abroad. More than half (51 percent) says that when they travel, they ask a hotel concierge for restaurant recommendations.
Airbnb has had more than 200 million guest arrivals since the company started in 2008, and it currently has more than 4 million listings worldwide. While the company hasn’t yet divulged exactly how many of its users have booked an Airbnb Trip, in July it said “monthly guests using Experiences has grown over six times (500 percent) since January.”
What Makes Resy Unique
Resy, in particular, has garnered plenty of buzz since it first launched in 2014. The restaurant software company is part of a new cadre of restaurant reservations platforms set out on disrupting a space that’s been dominated by Priceline’s OpenTable for nearly 20 years. The company, co-founded by Ben Leventhal, a founder of popular food news site Eater, has amassed more than 1.4 million users since its launch, seating more than 25 million diners.
Resy and OpenTable operate on different fee models. OpenTable charges restaurants a flat monthly fee plus $1 per diner booked via OpenTable, and 25 cents per diner when they book on the restaurant’s own site. Resy, on the other hand, only charges restaurants a flat monthly fee to power their reservations, generally making it less expensive for restaurateurs to use their software.
Danny Meyer, the founder of Shake Shack and CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group and a longtime OpenTable board member, made news last year when he decided to use Resy at the Union Square Cafe, including piloting an integration of Apple Watch software with Resy’s to use for front-of-house service.
Resy also touts an “industry-leading 4.8-percent no-show rating,” Resy investor and hospitality advisor Steven Kamali, CEO of New York-based Hospitality House, told Skift. It accomplishes that by sometimes requiring diners to enter a credit card number, in an effort to reduce no-shows and reservations. The app also sends reminders to diners about upcoming reservations.
Tock, a competitor to Resy, however, boasts a no-show rate of less than 1 percent. But by all estimates, Tock also doesn’t have nearly as many restaurants on its platform as does Resy. In October 2016, the number of restaurants using Tock was noted to be 167 restaurants in 38 cities and nine different countries; Resy works with more than 1,000. Most recently, Tock co-founder Nick Kokonas told Chefs + Tech that the company seats 45,000 diners monthly in 62 cities in 16 countries.
Becoming the Super Brand of Travel
The addition of restaurant reservations within the Airbnb app and site not only enhances the variety of experiences users can book but also amplifies the work the company has done to build up its “Guidebooks” of curated content on what to do, see, and eat in destinations. On its app, this content is generally accessible in the “Places” tab.
“It’s a phenomenal integration,” Kamali said of the new restaurant booking feature. “It’s a great alignment, and the collaboration provides benefits to both groups in a dramatic fashion. When you think about it now, you can book the most sought-after restaurants across the country via Airbnb thanks to Resy, and that’s really meaningful.”
It’s likely that, going forward, Airbnb will add the ability to book restaurants located outside of the U.S. on its site and mobile app, depending on how quickly Resy is able to add restaurants located outside of the U.S. onto its platform. Expanding the reservations feature outside the U.S. will assist Airbnb in its efforts to make its platform an all-in-one global travel app for accommodations and in-destination experiences, especially at a time when experiential travel is in high demand. It’s just one more step in enabling the company to become what Airbnb executives have sometimes referred to as “a super brand of travel” or the only travel brand a traveler might need.
“As an individual who’s both an investor and an operator in the food space, more often than not, I receive calls from people who both live in and travel to New York and they always ask me the same things: ‘What’s new and exciting? What should I be doing?'” Kamali noted. “The experiential lifestyle is what people are looking for — they’re looking for a road map for what experiences they should be having or could be having, and Resy, and now Airbnb, is helping restaurants tell people tell that story, and experience it for themselves.”
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