Think You’re Getting a Prime Reservation Through Your Apps? Think Again!

All the hubbub about Priceline’s acquisition of Open Table is heating up — but let’s be real, you’re still never really going to get the restaurant reservation you want, whether or not you fork over some cash to get it.

Julia Moskin at The New York Times examines in a new tell-all article what the future of restaurant reservations really means for the diner. Spoiler alert — it’s not pretty. But one fact Moskin makes very clear: you can use all the apps you want and pay money for the prime reservation, but you’re not really getting the table you think you are, not matter how much you pay (or don’t pay). From the article:

The app developers contend that their services will bring more transparency and democracy to a system that is already rigged, because in reality the best seats at hot restaurants are never available to the public. Choice tables are held back for “friends of the house,” such as regulars and late-booking celebrities. Hotel concierges use connections to secure last-minute tables for their guests, picking up tips on the way.

The debate between paying for a restaurant reservation and making it the old-fashioned way (we think you use this thing called a telephone?) for free will continue to rage on between the diner, the restauranteur, and the entrepeneur, as Moskin suggests. Many say the apps, like the much-talked Resy, eliminate the last-minute cancellations that can throw off a restaurant. But understandably, diners are none too pleased to be treated as a market share rather than a customer.

And it’s not making restauranteurs happy either. So many of these black market reservation apps profit off off the prime reservations without sharing revenues with the restaurants. And if you’re a restaurant that prides itself on being fair in who gets in, who would want their tables being sold through a swipe of an app?

However, we think it’s Gael Greene that has the smartest response to the reservation black market:

[The New York Times]

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