Skift Take

Chefs+Tech is now Skift Table. Kicking off our original coverage, here are three perspectives on the evolving business of reservations.

Last week, we announced Skift’s Chefs+Tech newsletter is now Skift Table.

At Skift Table, we will dig deep into the business of the modern restaurant industry through news and analysis, driven by a robust newsletter and social media presence. Read more about all of these changes — and the backstory — on Skift Table

The New Restaurant Reservations Landscape

Making a restaurant reservation is a practice that originated by picking up the phone and calling another human. Now, convenience and our increasingly digital lifestyles allow for fast discovery and booking via a number of dedicated reservations systems.

Reservations — the commodity — seem pretty straightforward; reserve a time in a book and the restaurant holds the table and prepares for your arrival. In today’s real-time real world of digital connectivity, the solution is more complex and involves algorithms, machine learning, special offerings, and the ability to customize a product for a specific restaurant’s needs.

In the online reservations industry, OpenTable is both the legacy player and the largest business, with more than 43,000 restaurants on its platform. Over the past few years, though, smaller startups have emerged, each taking a slightly different approach to an industry begging for change. But instead of large-scale industry disruption, these companies have, at least in part, returned to the business model that OpenTable pioneered: free online restaurant reservations.

The competition has lead to increasing change and innovation in the space as each company forges its way forward. Skift Table has (much) more on the digital reservations industry, including its probable and potentially unexpected winner. Read the full story on Skift Table.

The Battle for Diner Loyalty Begins with Reservations

Are you loyal to your favorite restaurants or are you loyal to the method you use to reserve your table? That’s the fundamental question for consumer-facing reservations services competing for diner loyalty.

While two-thirds of restaurant reservations still happen on the phone, the third-party reservations services that support restaurants continue to work to make the digital experience more appealing. Digital reservations come through a few different pipelines: directly with the restaurant, usually through a widget on its website; through a reservation service’s app, like OpenTable, where a diner can see all available restaurants on any given reservations network, and, increasingly, third-party partners like Google and Facebook, who work with the existing reservations services to offer reservations via search or recommendation. (If you’ve heard the buzz about Instagram offering in-post reservations, it’s likely on this model as opposed to Instagram working with restaurants directly. They’ll work with the reservations providers that are already working with the restaurants.)

As the way diners reserve tables evolves with technology, reservations networks face a decision: Do they work to court diners for brand loyalty to the network itself, or focus on helping restaurants establish loyalty with diners directly? Read the full story on Skift Table.

Resy Integration Is Just the Beginning for Restaurants + Airbnb

When Airbnb announced it led a $13 million Series A investment in New York City-based dining reservations platform Resy in January, it was readily assumed that we’d see some sort of synergy between the two companies — aside from the fact that Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky’s sister, Allison Chesky, also happens to be the managing editor of Resy.

And last Wednesday, we did, when Airbnb announced an expansion of an earlier pilot program it ran in May, allowing Airbnb app users to book restaurant reservations, powered by Resy.

There are many reasons why this integration of Resy into the Airbnb platform makes sense. This is especially the case when you consider Airbnb’s pursuit of becoming a “super brand of travel” and owning more of the overall traveler journey or experience, whether by adding tours and activities (Airbnb Trips) or even launching something related to flights, as Chesky has previously mentioned. Skift has the full story.


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Tags: reservations, resy

Photo credit: Union Square Cafe reopened last year using Resy, though many other Danny Meyer restaurants still use OpenTable to handle reservations. Emily Andrews

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