The economist Tim Harford has written an articled called Paying to Get Inside the Restaurant, about Silicon Valley start-ups which are monetizing the till-now underexploited market for reservations.
- Table8 works with restaurants in Miami, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco
- They set aside tables specifically for Table8 to sell through its app
- Table8 charges up to $25 for a table, splits the fee 50/50 with the restaurant
- Resy is similar.
- Killer Rezzy, which operates in New York, does this with and without restaurants' knowledge
- Shout is a peer-to-peer version of these: it's for people to sell New York City restaurant reservations to one another.
Tim Harford says this sort of pay for reservations is a good idea, "because the status quo is wasteful".
Reservation apps and peak pricing will make us better off because richer customers get convenience, thriftier customers pay less.
There's a problem: the idea of fairness, especially around "surge pricing". See Uber's issues here.
Our forecast: people like apps, and people like convenience and systems that work smarter. In a world that likes "smart" this will catch on. Our suggestion (to restaurant owners and anyone who can charge for entry/access):
- do it
- explain why it's better for all
- don't let your excitement at the profit potential of surge pricing kill people's love for your brand.
In other words, go gentle and play nicely out there. Forgo a little short-term gain for a lot of long term love.