While it's hard to measure the conversion rate that a social media channel like Instagram has for an experience like dining in a restaurant, Resy CEO Ben Leventhal is right that platform is one restaurants shouldn't be neglecting.
— Deanna Ting
The first Skift Restaurants Forum will be held on Monday, September 24 in New York City. Join us, our stellar lineup of speakers, and 250+ industry professionals to discuss the future of the industry.
In just a few short years, restaurant technology platform company Resy has made quite the reputation for itself as a challenger to established players, such as OpenTable.
In the increasingly competitive restaurant reservations world, Resy has carved out a position for itself primarily through a number of partnerships and collaborations, from partnering with major hospitality groups like Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group to syncing platforms with Airbnb, which also happens to be an investor in the company.
On September 24, Resy CEO Ben Leventhal will join a roster of restaurant industry speakers on stage at the inaugural Skift Restaurants Forum in New York City where he will discuss the continuing evolution of restaurant technology, as well as the importance of collaboration in the industry.
What follows is a lightly edited conversation with Leventhal that will give you a glimpse into what we’ll discuss with him later this month.
Skift Table: How important is collaboration to you in terms of growing Resy as a platform for restaurant technology?
Ben Leventhal: I think collaboration is at the core of our growth strategy. We collaborate with our restaurants, we collaborate with technology partners, and we collaborate with distribution partners to understand how the world is evolving. To understand how restaurants needs are evolving. And we build our product in that context. And so, I think it’s safe to say that collaboration is part of the backbone of what we do.
Skift Table: How would you describe the evolution of the restaurant reservations ecosystem today?
Leventhal: Well, it’s incredibly exciting to see that restaurants now have real choice when it comes to picking technology and picking the technology partners. And I think that’s probably the biggest headline over the last couple of years, from the last couple of years, is about how much the technology eco-system has developed.
Skift Table: Do you feel like technology is at a point today where it is evolved enough and advanced enough to really enhance or improve the experience that diners have at restaurants, or the relationship that restaurants have with their diners?
Leventhal: I think that it has. I think that there’s always room to improve and I think that we will continue to relentlessly evolve our software and pursue solutions that we believe drive hospitality. But, I think that there have been tremendous strides made over the last couple of years in terms of really using technology to drive the hospitality experience and certainly the feedback that we get from both restaurants and consumers indicates that we’re headed in the right direction.
Skift Table: In terms of enhancing that experience, how are platforms like Resy accomplishing that?
Leventhal: Well, one thing we focus on is not getting in the way. You know, the most important thing that you could do as a partner of restaurants, in my view, is to not get in the way. It’s to find opportunities to make existing processes run more smoothly. Is to find ways to eliminate friction in their operations. And, so, really, certainly the features we have around notify, for example, the automated waiting list feature, using SMS communications. Those are simple things that we have on board at Resy.
The restaurant is the focus. But, those products and really everything we build is designed to make the experience of visiting a great restaurant even better. And that’s really the key to all of this software, is it must enhance the experience of visiting a great restaurant.
Skift Table: Is there anything that you think the restaurant industry isn’t paying enough attention to, but really should be paying more attention to?
Leventhal: I think the industry is focusing on the right things. We think, moving forward, data and analytics has been talked about a lot recently, but they will play a more important role in fine dining operations. And, so I think you’ll see restaurants over the next 18 months become much more well versed in understanding ways that data and analytics can drive profitability in the fine dining category.
Surprisingly enough, I think that a lot of restaurants are still not focused enough on social media channels like Instagram as a place to do marketing. Certainly, there’s been a sea change over the last couple of years and you’ve seen many, many, many restaurants focus well on an Instagram-type platform. But, if you look at the industry overall, the industry is still actually quite far behind in terms of really embracing a platform like that and understanding how to market effectively on that channel. So, I think you’ll see that change over the next couple of years as restaurants become more and more aware of the potency of a place like Instagram. But I think it’s safe to say that there’s still quite a lot of work to be done.
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