By Micah Maidenberg
American Express Co. has agreed to buy a company that helps customers reserve tables at high-end bars and restaurants, the latest effort in its push to link cardholders with perks-offering partners.
The credit-card company said Wednesday it agreed to buy Resy Network Inc. for an undisclosed amount. Resy, which operates a reservation website and app, also sells restaurant operators digital tools for managing tables and guest relationships, starting at $249 a month.
American Express has been building out its portfolio of digital services in recent years that are meant to bring cardholders additional perks. It has acquired a personal-travel-assistant app, a digital firm that helps users access airport lounges and separate restaurant-reservation platforms focused on the U.K. and Japan.
AmEx wants to "use digital to create experiences that make us essential to [customers]. These will further embed us with merchants, businesses, and consumers," Mohammed Badi, chief strategy officer at the company, told investors in March.
The company already offers shoppers who use its Platinum card special access to reservations at well-known restaurants, according to the company's website.
Founded in 2014, Resy now works with about 4,000 restaurants, seating about 10.4 million diners a month. By contrast, OpenTable says it works with more than 50,000 restaurants, seating more than 120 million people a month.
OpenTable, which launched in 1998 and is now part of Booking Holdings Inc., has faced new competition in recent years, including from Yelp Inc., Resy, and other firms like SevenRooms, whose backers include an Amazon.com Inc. fund.
The deal could put pressure on OpenTable, some analysts say, because AmEx will be able to boost Resy's profile by providing incentives to cardholders and restaurant operators to use it.
"It gives Resy a lot of leverage in the marketplace," said Fred LeFranc, founding partner at hospitality-consulting firm Results Thru Strategy.
Steve Hafner, chief executive of OpenTable and Booking's Kayak travel-reservation business, said in an email he didn't agree that OpenTable would face a greater threat from Resy as it shifts into AmEx. He highlighted what he said was OpenTable's ability to generate diner demand for restaurants.
OpenTable's parent Booking Holdings said earlier this month it would buy a company that helps restaurants personalize customers' experiences.
AmEx's acquisition is expected to be completed this summer. After it is completed, Resy will continue to be led by its co-founder and chief executive, Ben Leventhal. He said in a statement the deal will provide Resy with more resources and greater scale to pursue its goals.
Resy's backers include Airbnb Inc., which in 2017 led a $13 million funding round that valued the company at about $70 million.
Write to Micah Maidenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org