American Express Buys Tock to Pursue Customers Shelling Out on Dining

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The credit card giant American Express has acquired Tock, a restaurant reservation and event management company, from the 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 market for dining-related services, especially after its acquisition in 2019 of Resy, a rival of Tock, which is based in Chicago. The credit card company is acting on insights that its customers are spending prodigiously on eating out, it said in a statement.

Restaurants were a growing spending category for American Express cardholders, reaching a “high watermark” of $100 billion in transactions in 2023, Howard Grosfield, president of the U.S. consumer services division, said in an interview on Friday.

“The passion and interest in dining and dining-related experiences just continues to grow,” Mr. Grosfield said.

Tock and Resy broker some of the dining world’s most coveted reservations.

Nick Kokonas, a former derivatives trader and an owner of the Chicago fine-dining restaurant Alinea, started Tock in 2014. With Tock’s ability to offer prepaid reservations and deposits, tasting-menu restaurants like Alinea flocked to the service.

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

Through the acquisition, American Express said it can give its card members the perk of access to hot dining experiences within the restaurant app’s network, as well as limited foodie experiences. For instance, Resy is brokering access this summer to Misipasta, a pop-up restaurant by the Michelin-starred chef Missy Robinson on Governors Island in New York City, 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 about 7,000 participants, American Express said, adding that its Resy network includes about 20,000 eateries worldwide.

The credit card company “will be able to offer Tock and its customers access to a broader network of diners,” Matt Tucker, the head of Tock, said in a statement on Friday. “This is an important value-add to our restaurant partners.”

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

American Express also said on Friday that it had acquired Rooam, a platform for contactless payments that is used in bars, restaurants, stadiums and other venues. It did not disclose the sum it would pay for the platform.



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