Restaurateurs get benefits and some challenges from advanced communications technologies. Although modern websites and ordering platforms make it easier for customers to reserve tables, many people book multiple or speculative reservations to give them more dining options from which to choose when dinner time arrives. Upscale restaurants especially feel the effects from no-shows. Restaurants lose pure profit from cancellations and no-shows because most people who dine in upscale restaurants don’t expect to get a table if they don’t have a confirmed reservation, so they don’t try unless they know a restaurant’s owner, enjoy celebrity status or are willing to grease the wheels by paying a hefty bribe to get a table.
Resy has devised a solution that many restaurants will appreciate. The company’s user-friendly app marries restaurant curation with availability by charging customers a premium to book the tables that they want when they want them from participating restaurants. Resy negotiates with its restaurant partners to receive a percentage of these extra fees that range from $10 to $50.
Many customers don’t like waiting for tables, and fine dining restaurants in metropolitan markets often overbook to compensate for no-shows, delays and cancellations made without providing sufficient time for restaurants to book the empty tables.
Resy’s Background in the Hospitality Industry
Resy was conceived by Uber investor Gary Vaynerchuk and Eater.com cofounder Ben Leventhal, which automatically lends credibility to the service. Launched in New York City in June of 2014, the company has recently expanded to Los Angeles and plans further expansions in major metropolitan areas of the United States.
According to Leventhal, Resy might consider a self-serve option for restaurants, but the company currently maintains close control of the app and its restaurant partners, preferring to offer a curated experience at the best restaurants each city has to offer.
How Resy Works
Resy works on two fronts by signing up restaurants and consumers, the latter of whom bear the costs of the service. Many diners in urban areas are willing to pay premiums to guarantee choice seats at popular dining times instead of settling for bad tables at 5:30 p.m. or 10:30 p.m., when staff tend to give poor service while anticipating closing time.
Customers choose a participating restaurant and input the number of people in their party into Resy’s app and get a list of available times and dates. Diners can then essentially buy their table by paying a nonrefundable premium. Benefits of the system include:
- Customers choose their preferred time, date and table, receiving guaranteed reservations.
- Upon arrival at the restaurant, customers are ushered directly to their chosen table without waiting for availability.
- Choice seats are often available with little or no advance booking.
- Restaurants land a new segment of customers consisting of people who are unwilling to wait.
- Resy and each restaurant negotiate the percentage of the premium that Resy receives for providing the service.
- Paying a premium virtually eliminates no-shows and helps to fill open tables cause by the rare no-show on a first-reserved, first served basis.
Everybody wins because customers can still make reservations the normal way. Restaurants can prevent reservation-scalping by co-opting the process in an organized and professional manner.
Effectiveness of Using the Resy App
Consumers can get nearly impossible reservations on short notice by paying a modest premium. In fact, choice tables are often available only an hour before seating. Consumers no longer have to take their chances if they want to dine in better restaurants at times when most urban residents are desperately vying for 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. reservations and desirable seats.
Resy’s biggest competitors include OpenTable, which launched a last-minute-table-alert service, Yelp’s proprietary reservation system and SeatMe, which provides flat-rate reservation-booking services for restaurants for only $99 per month. Table8 primarily serves the business community for travelers in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington, D.C., among others.
Other competitors are likely to enter the field of providing reservation guarantees for hard-pressed restaurants that need to limit their losses due to no-shows. Shout, Reserve and NiteTables are among these reservation companies. NiteTables focuses more on clubbing, entertainment venues and bars for urban celebrations with large groups. Resy does everything above board while companies like DiS Dining makes reservations under fictitious names and sells them at a fee, which has generated lots of controversy and offers no benefits and many risks to restaurants.
Cost-Benefit Analysis of Resy Reservation Sales
Restaurants get an alternative income stream, fewer no-shows and cancellations and more satisfied customers who return often when they don’t have to wait for seats. The app provides a win-win situation where restaurants don’t pay anything unless they receive premium payments. Restaurants often run on profit margins of only 10 percent, so no-shows, cancellations and decreases in the size of dining parties can have critical effects on profits.
The only drawbacks are that some customers find selling reservations distasteful and that guaranteed reservations might go to disruptive or inebriated customers. However, using the app and paying a premium is completely voluntary, so customers don’t have to pay extra if they choose not to do so. Restaurants can and should refuse to serve disruptive, drunk and violent customers no matter where they originate or face negligence charges. Regular diners can just make reservations through traditional channels, but they might find fewer prime dining times than were previously available or have to wait for a table, which most people currently do anyway.
The app is also a godsend for business travelers who seldom book seats at trendy restaurants months in advance. Restaurateurs often prefer business travelers over their regular diners because corporate customers spend more freely and encourage their guests and clients to overindulge because they’re dining on the company’s tab.
Resy is at the forefront of a new restaurant trend that’s certainly going to gain supporters. Restaurants need to protect their businesses from no-shows and last-minute cancellations that can seriously eat into profits, especially on nights when tables are in high demand. In cities across the country, people are finding ways to make reservations and scalping them, and restaurants get nothing but headaches from these speculative efforts. Resy’s services simply acknowledge the trend and systemize paying for reservations with a professional system that returns money to restaurateurs instead of robbing them of profits.
What We Like
We like that restaurants can now protect themselves from no-shows by selling desirable reservation slots, which creates a more flexible and dynamic dining experience for consumers. Restaurants can offer their best tables on prime days at premium prices and reap the rewards that previously went to scalpers and speculators. We think that reserving premium tables at popular dining venues is especially gratifying for seating business travelers and scheduling impromptu business meetings because these situations can happen with little advance notice.
What We Don’t Like
We fear that the trend of selling reservations could go too far and prevent people from making legitimate bookings without paying for the privilege. Nobody wants to pay the maître d’ just to get a table or a better spot away from the kitchen door or bathroom. Diners who have to pay for reservations are likely to become more demanding, less satisfied with service and less likely to remain loyal.
As a way to protect restaurants, Resy’s services offer genuine advantages, especially for fine dining venues that use reservation sales only as an option for customers who are willing to pay the surcharge. As a competitive bidding situation, selling reservations or requiring premium payments for desirable seats should never become systematic or mandatory unless restaurateurs want to face extreme customer-dissatisfaction repercussions.