LOL you’re not disrupting reservations
Gaming the system to unfairly grant yourself access is not progress.
A few weeks ago, I got sucked into one of those Twitter conversations I promised myself I would stop getting sucked into. You know the ones — the someone’s-wrong-on-the-internet type.
This particular thread was a question about why restaurants don’t charge money for restaurant reservations — in this case, why not sell the table to the highest bidder and apply the cash toward the bill?
When I pressed for details — because why would a restaurant do this — the questioner replied that it’s not to benefit the restaurant, it’s meant to benefit the diner. “The main benefit is to people that want the table more, measured by dollars,” they wrote.
Aha! There’s the answer. In the decade I’ve been covering the industry, technology created solely to benefit the diner has rarely taken off. In the instances when a strong consumer focus has resulted in success, the restaurant is often left holding the short straw (think: third-party delivery services built on diner convenience.) Even then, restaurants need to buy into the system. In some states, for example, restaurants can’t be added to delivery services without their consent. In reservations, a restaurant chooses which provider to work with because the software, while convenient to the guest, also offers the restaurant table management and customer relationship management, at a minimum.
Reservations, particularly reservations at super popular restaurants, have become a commodity. Maybe they always were? But every few years, someone with an idea they just-can’t-believe no one has thought of before tries to disrupt the business in the name of that coveted table that they, personally, want to access.
The latest: a group of New York finance industry workers violated Resy’s terms of service in order to snag hard-to-get reservations at in-demand restaurants, offering them to a select group of people a week ahead of time. People in their 20s are busy, and, the founders argue, shouldn’t have to book months in advance to get an in-demand table. Under anonymous cover of the internet and with what seems like too much time on their hands, the group booked reservations using fake Resy accounts with made-up names, and offered them up for free to their community, a secretive chat group on an encrypted messaging platform. The chat group started with the founders and their friends, though eventually grew to 700 people.
Over the last three months, the group booked over 1,000 reservations before Resy shut them down in early February for that pesky TOS violation.
Of course, as coverage on Eater notes, for as long as there have been reservations there have been buy-sell-trade exchanges and side doors offering access to the best tables. A status credit card used to quietly get diners into top spots; that relationship was made even more official and public when American Express acquired Resy and launched programs giving its cardholders early access to some reservations and events.
But, wait, you ask, doesn’t Tock try to solve the reservations problem?