Reserve is an app that works as a concierge to find you tables at local upscale restaurants in select cities.
What Reserve Offers
Through Reserve's iPhone or Android app, you can find the city's best restaurants, get a table, make a future reservation, pay for your meal, split the check and leave a tip, all without carrying a wallet. Reserve is only available in New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, with plans for expansion. As of October 2015, Reserve has partnered with over 400 different upscale restaurants.
Reserve handles your experience from start to finish by showing fine dining establishments nearby and making recommendations based on what you want to eat. If no tables are available at your first choice, then there is sometimes a bidding option; you can bid a certain percentage over the regular menu price to secure a table. The app can also suggest different times, seating types and other options to secure your seat. If nothing is available, the app suggests other dining options nearby.
Reserve charges a $10 cancellation fee at its discretion if you cancel within two hours of your scheduled start time. If you do not cancel the reservation and miss it completely, you may be charged a missed reservation fee of $25 per person.
How Reserve Makes Money
Reserve doesn't make any money on fees from cancellations and missed reservations. Those funds go directly to the restaurants to offset the cost of holding a table. Reserve's services are completely free to restaurants.
Each time you book through the app and complete your meal, Reserve charges you a flat $5 concierge fee regardless of the number of people or total cost of your meal.
Company Funding, Acquisitions and Partnerships
As of February 2015, Reserve has completed its Series A funding. The total amount raised was $17.3 million as of November 2015. Some of its major funding partners include Expa and Human Ventures Capital.
In early 2015, Reserve began making strategic acquisitions to improve its platform. It acquired Set for Service in August 2015, which brings very personalized guest management systems technology. Reserve acquired Hail, a payment technology company, and Zurvu, an online restaurant reservation service, in April 2015.
In 2015, Reserve partnered with Coachella to provide guests with concierge service for the event's many pop-up restaurants. Reserve also partnered with Uber in Boston to benefit charities through partnerships with local businesses and restaurants.
A New Industry
The industry Reserve operates in is fairly new, and the threat of new entrants is high. There are several other apps and websites that provide similar free services. OpenTable is a popular competitor that makes money by charging restaurants fees for its software and for each person it is able to seat.
Reserve doesn't charge restaurants anything, and it reimburses them for missed reservations. Reserve also only focuses on premium fine dining establishments. Several reviews on its Android app state that Reserve could get tables when other sites, such as OpenTable, were not able to. Reserve also caters to higher-income individuals who value its customer-centered business model and are willing to pay for the service.
The Bottom Line
Reserve has created a premium product for customers who value personal service and ease of use when selecting their next fine dining experience. By creating relationships and a free service for restaurants, it has secured more tables for guests than its industry competitors. With plenty of financial backing, this startup will continue to expand the number of restaurants it serves and add cities to capture more of the premium customer market share within this relatively new industry.