The Airbnb Of Restaurants Is … Airbnb


Even those who swear by Airbnb when booking travel accommodations can only use the retail platform so often. After all, one can’t travel 24/7/365; even serial travelers have to live at home part of the time.

So, how can Airbnb reach its most dedicated travelers when they aren’t traveling? That’s exactly what the startup hopes to do by expanding its “Experiences” offerings and partnering with restaurant reservation app Resy to power dining and other experiences, both at home and away.

Airbnb, the vacation rental marketplace that lets individuals rent homes or apartments from other individuals while traveling, recently led a $13 million funding round for Resy, which operates in about 115 U.S. markets and facilitates bookings at around 900 restaurants nationwide. Airbnb’s restaurant reservation option has been in beta testing in San Francisco since May.

CNN reported news that the new Resy-powered restaurant reservations are first rolling out at 650 restaurants in 16 U.S. cities, including, of course, San Francisco and Los Angeles, as well as Washington, D.C. However, the company reportedly has plans to make the service national and even global.

“The experience of booking accommodations and restaurants shouldn’t be disjointed, and there’s a real opportunity to put those things together. That’s how people are exploring cities,” Ben Leventhal, co-founder and CEO of Resy, told CNN Tech. “When I go to San Francisco or Nashville or anywhere, the first thing I say is, ‘Where am I eating?’”

Through the Airbnb mobile app, users can now search for restaurants by location, type of food or time of day, and, in some cases, by curated recommendation lists such as “essential brunch spots,” CNN reported.

During the Skift Global Forum last week, Airbnb Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer Nathan Blecharczyk spoke of his vision to make Airbnb a “daily app, used by local people long term,” according to Fortune — just like Facebook, which members use for 50 minutes per day on average.

Travelers, said Blecharczyk, don’t want to fulfill the tourist stereotype so much as they want to enjoy a novel, locally flavored experience (or meal, as the case may be). Everyone has a photo at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., but not everyone finds the best gluten-free bakery or quirky dive bar in town.

In New York City, the latest city where Airbnb has added Experiences (or Trips), why go to an art or fashion museum when you could design your own wearable art at a fashion workshop? Why simply go to a Broadway show when you could see what Broadway looks like through a professional actor’s eyes?

Those experiences are not always easy to find, even for locals. Airbnb aims to help users discover those local gems whether they are exploring a new city or their own backyard. Trips are led by locals, and visitors pay them through the Airbnb platform for delivering the service. New York City is the 40th market where Airbnb has launched Experiences. There are more than 1,800 Experiences available through the platform worldwide.

The end goal of adding all these “extras” is to grow Airbnb beyond a simple lodging reservation platform into a full-service travel booking company, according to Bloomberg. By teaming up with Resy, Airbnb has placed itself in direct competition with Priceline, which owns rival restaurant reservation platform OpenTable.

“The bigger picture,” Airbnb VP of Trips Joe Zadeh told CNN, “is how does Airbnb create the best possible trip? How do we make the tech super easy?”

Airbnb has not stated whether it plans to acquire Resy outright or even what ownership stake it currently holds. However, with a private market valuation around $31 billion, Bloomberg says it’s likely that the startup will go for an initial public offering sometime within the next year to 16 months. These new product categories could help Airbnb maintain growth and justify that hefty valuation.