American Express buys Tock to attract customers who spend money on food and drink

Credit card giant American Express has bought restaurant reservations and event management company Tock from digital commerce platform Squarespace for $400 million, American Express said on Friday.

The purchase of the reservation system in an all-cash deal shows that American Express is continuing its pursuit of the dining services market, especially after its 2019 acquisition of Resy, a rival to Chicago-based Tock. The credit card company is acting on the fact that its customers are spending too much on eating out, it said in a statement.

Restaurants are a growing spending category for American Express cardholders, reaching an “all-time high” of $100 billion in transactions in 2023, Howard Grossfield, president of the company’s U.S. consumer services division, said in an interview Friday.

“The passion and interest in food and food-related experiences continues to grow,” Mr. Grossfeld said.

Tock and Resy handle some of the restaurant world’s most coveted reservations.

Nick Kokonas, a former derivatives trader and Chicago fine-dining restaurant owner ArticleLaunched Talk in 2014. Talk offers the ability to Prepaid Reservations and DepositsTasting-menu restaurants like Alinea flocked to the service.

Restaurants, bars and other customers pay a fixed monthly fee to use the Tock platform, which takes deposits, helps manage traffic in the dining room, and organizes and advertises pop-up events. Customers can download the Tock app to view restaurants and make bookings.

Through the acquisition, American Express said it can offer its card members the benefit of access to hot dining experiences within the restaurant app’s network, as well as limited-run food experiences. For example, Resy is brokering access to MissyPasta, Michelin-starred chef Missy Robinson’s pop-up restaurant on Governors Island in New York City this summer, and American Express card holders have privileged access to tables.

Tock was acquired by Squarespace in 2021, and its bank of restaurants, wineries and other venues has grown to nearly 7,000 participants, with its Resy network now including nearly 20,000 eateries worldwide, American Express said.

Tock’s chief Matt Tucker said in a statement Friday that the credit card company “will be able to provide Tock and its customers with access to a broad network of diners.” “This is a significant value-add for our restaurant partners.”

The leader in the dining reservations industry is OpenTable, whose network includes more than 55,000 restaurants, bars and other venues, according to its website.

American Express also said Friday that it has acquired Rooam, a platform for contactless payments used at bars, restaurants, stadiums and other venues. It did not disclose the amount it paid for the platform.

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