Airbnb’s newest plan to win over travelers is telling them where to eat

More than just a stay.
More than just a stay.
Image: Reuters/Charles Platiau
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Airbnb is taking another step to keep people in its app, this time with something every traveler wants—good food.

The company said today it’s working with restaurant reservation app Resy to make bookings available at about 650 restaurants in 16 US cities through the Airbnb platform. “Restaurants on Airbnb” is the latest addition to Airbnb’s “Trips” initiative to turn its home-sharing service into an all-encompassing travel company. Trips, which debuted in November 2016, recommends local attractions, provides travel guides curated by Airbnb hosts, and advertises paid “experiences” that guests can book, such as cycling and truffle-hunting.

In January, Airbnb led a $13 million investment into New York-based Resy, which it says has about 1.6 million users. The company provides restaurants with software to manage reservations. Airbnb hasn’t disclosed the size of its ownership stake in Resy. Airbnb doesn’t currently have a plan to make money from the restaurant booking app, but may at a later date.

Airbnb upended traditional lodging models by convincing regular people to list their homes and spare rooms on its online platform. The company, founded in 2008, is now the world’s fourth most valuable startup, and claims to have 4 million global listings. Airbnb added $450 million in funding in March to a series F round that topped $1 billion, valuing the company at more than $30 billion.

The company’s overall growth has slowed in key markets around the world, however, partly because of aggressive regulation of short-term home rentals in big cities. Expanding into attractions with Trips was meant to give Airbnb an additional source of revenue. It’s not clear whether Resy will do the same.

Why would a guest use Airbnb and Resy to make a restaurant reservation, instead of a more established service like OpenTable (owned by Priceline Group) or Yelp? As with other guided tours and activities offered under “Trips,” Airbnb is hoping to play up the Resy reservations as true local favorites off the beaten path.

Airbnb estimates that its guests spent more than $6.5 billion at restaurants around the world while staying at an Airbnb in the last 12 months, a number it extrapolated from internal company data and self-reported survey data on Airbnb guest spending (so take it with a grain of salt). In a separate survey of 2,083 US adults it commissioned from Harris Poll, Airbnb found that nearly half of American travelers seek out local restaurant recommendations when they travel, and three in 10 say they struggle to find good local restaurants that aren’t tourist traps when traveling internationally.