Think you’re part of the dining elite of New York or Los Angeles? Well, today Resy will let you know if that’s true.
The recently acquired reservation platform of choice for some of the cities’ hardest-to-book restaurants is launching its first loyalty program today. Called Resy Select, it grants a small group of “power” users (in Resy parlance) access to exclusive tables at hot restaurants. The digital reward system is rolling out in New York and Los Angeles today, with San Francisco on the near horizon. Resy cofounder and CEO Ben Leventhal says he plans to eventually offer Resy Select in all markets, though he won’t provide a timeline.
What qualifies a Resy user for this new elite tier? It’s not entirely clear. The company, which says it has 4,000 restaurant partners across 154 U.S. cities and 10 countries, is eschewing a traditional points system for something more opaque. It evaluates user metrics—how often someone uses the app, their no-show rate, etc.—to determine a person’s eligibility. “We look at several indications of what we think drives values,” says Leventhal, who declined to provide more details. (According to Resy’s terms of service for the restaurants that use its point-of-sale technology, the company collects information about users’ dietary preferences, past visits to other establishments, and average check amount, among other things—which is to say that Resy has a lot of data related to whether or not someone is a VIP.) The mystery-shrouded program seems destined to add to Resy’s foodie-insider mystique, which it has cultivated since its launch in 2014 by signing on rising-star chefs and hip restaurant groups as key partners.
The program is free–for now. Leventhal says Resy may add a fee later on. For the time being, Resy Select lives as a new gold option in the Resy app only visible to its Select users, offering primetime reservation slots at top restaurants and access to special events or programming. Such programs are very much a part of Resy’s DNA, which has long offered users access to events, such as a ticketed dinner series with Bollinger Champagne and private dinners with chefs. The Select program adds another layer of prestige to these offerings. Participating restaurants include New York’s Union Square Cafe and ABC Kitchen, Los Angeles’s Nightshade and Majordomo, and (soon) Commis and Sorrel in San Francisco.
Leventhal says Resy has been testing the service for the past year to help the company determine “the right amount of supply, in terms of reservations.” He adds that Resy Select is intended to be a premium service for both diners and restaurants. While some establishments already have their own bespoke loyalty programs, such systems are often complicated and arduous to implement. Resy Select, Leventhal says, “makes the process a lot more turnkey.” Just as important, it opens up restaurants to new power guests interested in branching out beyond their usual favorites. “It’s a symbiotic relationship,” he says.
The program’s rollout comes less than a week after Resy announced it was being scooped up by American Express. Though AmEx isn’t involved in Resy Select, this move is in line with the credit card’s playbook. “Obviously loyalty is hardwired into the American Express plan,” Leventhal says. “We look forward to learning quite a bit from them in terms of how to deliver a program like this at scale.” Though Resy hints that there may be some future Select-like feature or program for American Express members, for the time being there’s no such interplay.
Resy is certainly not the first booking platform to dabble in loyalty programs. OpenTable, for instance, began offering a points-based loyalty program three years ago to give users access to hard-to-book restaurants. More recently, the Bookings Holdings-owned company opened up its system so that sister platforms, including Kayak, can also accept its points.
We’ll have to wait and see which cities Resy targets next–as well what American Express has in store for its new acquisition. Leventhal remains mum about future plans. In the meantime, if you’re able to nab a 7:30pm Friday slot at Estela on the app, it means you’ve finally arrived.