As part of its plan to become a full-service travel booking company, Airbnb announced that it is expanding into restaurant reservations.
Bloomberg reported that Airbnb users can now book tables at about 650 restaurants across the U.S. by simply going to the “Restaurants” tab on its website and smartphone app. Diners could previously only use Airbnb to make restaurant reservations in a small test in San Francisco.
This move will help the company compete with the likes of Expedia and Priceline Group, which owns OpenTable, the leading U.S. restaurant reservation website and app.
Since launching in 2008, Airbnb has become a go-to app for travelers looking for a place to stay. But the company has been looking beyond that service, recently expanding into selling unique travel experiences like cigar-rolling classes in Cuba. It has also worked on a flight-booking tool and an itinerary-planning widget that offers personalized travel booking suggestions based on consumer behavior, preferences and location.
And last year, Airbnb invested $13 million in restaurant-booking app maker Resy, which will be handling reservations for Airbnb users.
“Integrating Resy bookings increases the value of Airbnb’s core product by making it a one-stop shop for travel,” said Arun Sundararajan, a professor at New York University. He expects Airbnb to pursue an initial public offering within the next 12 to 16 months, and said the startup needs new product categories, like dining, to maintain growth and justify its private market valuation of about $31 billion.
While Airbnb declined to disclose its method for making money from the new booking tool, it’s designed in part to get users to engage with Airbnb more regularly.