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American Express launches new in-app restaurant reservation booking following its Resy acquisition

Sarah Perez

Earlier this year, American Express announced it was acquiring Resy, the New York-based restaurant reservation platform whose software was used by 4,000+ restaurants across 10 countries. This week, the company has taken the next step to now integrated Resy's system within the Amex Mobile App. In a new restaurant booking feature, Resy's inventory will be combined with the American Express Global Dining Collection and other partners, including BookATable and SevenRooms, to offer cardholders reservations from over 10,000 restaurants worldwide.

Currently, this restaurant-booking feature will be available only to a portion of Amex's Platinum Card Member base. But American Express says the plan is to roll out the feature more broadly in the months ahead.

The company says its decision to go this route was driven by customer activity. Dining is a top spending category among cardholders and the number one request through the Platinum Concierge service -- a premium perk that's like having an assistant work for you to research travel, find gifts, or make dinner reservations, for example.

Resy fits in with Amex's larger goal of providing services to cardholders that can help connect them to unique experiences, as its platform can be used to acquire reservations even at newer, hipper and hard to get into restaurants.

Before its acquisition, Resy's software for restaurants had managed to steal market share away from OpenTable, thanks to its advances in table management solutions for restaurant owners, which includes features like an adaptive optimization engine, business intelligence capabilities, and the ability to combine different scheduling strategies, like slots and a more dynamic flex system. This system and the consumer-facing booking options continue to be available through Resy directly, even if users aren't Amex members.

Resy was the latest in a string of Amex acquisitions aimed at expanding its Global Dining Program. Amex also bought Japan-based restaurant booking service Pocket Concierge in January, and U.K. fintech startup Cake Technologies, designed to help people more easily pay their restaurant bill.

More broadly, these acquisitions aim to help Amex become more central to its customers' lives, the company had said at the time of the Resy deal. And that's just as important as the points program.

In addition, by building more digital services into its app, Amex aims to better serve an increasingly mobile and tech-savvy audience. The company says that 84% of its card members now use the app or website to interact with the company, and it's seen a 35% year-over-year increase in daily active American Express mobile app users globally.

The new in-app reservation booking tool will become available to the larger Platinum and Centurion Card Member base by 2020, following this week's more limited launch.