Amex’s $400 Million Power Play: How Tock Deal Fits Into New Super App To Change Dining Forever

American Express is assembling its travel and lifestyle super app. Cardmembers spend a lot on restaurants, and those with the disposable income to go out at upper-end restaurants are a lucrative segment.

Meanwhile, embedding a card brand into the dining ecosystem, and leveraging a platform to deliver restaurant reservations and experiences to guests, is a way to win loyalty. At least that’s the bet.

Kyoten, Chicago

We’ve seen a musical chairs of credit card issuing banks partnering with restaurant platforms over the past six years.

Pujol, Mexico City

There was a time, years ago, when I’d go to OpenTable to look at what restaurants were available and for inspiration on where to go. Now it’s necessary to open multiple browser windows or use different apps. OpenTable is no longer focal like it used to be a decade or two ago. And American Express is sweeping up the current places to be.

If they can actually funnel this all into a single place for cardmembers to go to organize their dining choices, and gain privileged access to those places, they’ll have gotten a bargain for their investment. Usually these acquisitions fail to deliver on their potential, though, and wind up afterthoughts.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Unfortunately, Tock is tough for me with prepayment. If I’m going to London, it won’t really be easy to find someone to transfer the reservation to.

    Amex Concierge used to be helpful in hard to get reservations. No longer, bots take up all the hard to get in places in NYC

  2. What’s the strategy in abandoning LoungeBuddy? I was assuming that I get some kind of communication that it was being integrated into either the AmEx app or some combination app, but haven’t gotten anything.

  3. Why not work to persuade the restaurants on stock to use Resy instead, rather than buy the whole company for $400 million?

  4. Resy is a nothing-burger. Top dining venues in Manhattan . . . MIA. (Check your location.) To then build a Resy credit into a number of their cards (AKA breakage) is a sad joke. When the Amex Gold is refreshed, I’ll bet the dining credit will be transitioned to Resy. Punt.

    Not that Bilt Dining is a reservation platform but it has a substantially better selection (in Manhattan). Amex should have bought Open Table. A strategic goof!

  5. @Beachfan, in London (or anywhere), your best bet is your hotel’s concierge. Never fails for me.

  6. M&A lawyers are not going to run out of business. Which is good because my boyfriend is a summer associate at Latham.

  7. Curious what the impact here is for Chase Sapphire Reserve. Until now, you could book on Tock through Chase Dining for 10x points OR use points to pre-pay for these dinners. Will this feature be going away for CSR?

  8. I don’t eat out much but am stuck with having to use two Resy credits each month from two Amex cards. It’s definitely an annoyance rather than a benefit. And since I want to take the food home to eat I cannot order via any online ordering systems as the charge has to be made at the restaurant. So I have to either call in the order (where they sometimes don’t answer the phone) or go in person and then wait for the food preparation. Some “benefit”, Amex.

  9. Oh, awesome, looking forward to the chance to have every possible cent extracted from me whenever I feel like doing anything.

    I’m pretty much over fine dining and starred places. I work hard for my money; I don’t want to work hard to spend it. I dine mostly at family-owned or independent restaurants that are happy to have me and which are honestly often better than the hyped places.

  10. I would LOVE to just see a simple solution where restaurants partnered with Resey and if reservation was made through the app and dinner was paid for with platinum card you can get 4x points. I love my aspire cared for the 7x points on ALL restaurants. Not sure if resey does it but it has the capability to really tailor to the dinners preferences ie. dietary restrictions, preferences ect.

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