Home Advertiser Resy’s CMO On Why Curated Content Has A Seat At The Table

Resy’s CMO On Why Curated Content Has A Seat At The Table

Hannah Kelly, CMO, Resy

Search behavior is one of the main ingredients in Resy’s personalization strategy.

The American Express-owned restaurant reservation platform uses search intent to inform its content and better understand what motivates users to book tables.

Resy’s marketing and editorial teams can get a good sense of what’s trending if there’s an uptick, for example, in searches for a particular type of cuisine, a specific restaurant, an attribute (like “best outdoor seating”) or a vibe (like “date night”).

“And then we look at the ‘why,’ as in why are people searching for something,” said CMO Hannah Kelly, who spent nearly a decade in marketing at Amex before transitioning to Resy after Amex bought the platform in 2019.

“The ‘why’ helps us tell stories,” Kelly said.

Maybe a certain venue hosts a weekly jazz night or has a particularly excellent coffee menu. These details get sprinkled into the editorial content Resy produces, including a regularly updated curated “Hit List” of top spots sorted by city.

But Resy also taps into aggregated Amex cardmember data to identify where people are spending their money. “We see which restaurants are getting the most inbound demand,” Kelly said, “and that helps us inform new restaurants to bring onto our platform.”

Resy and Amex partner together on a lot of efforts. Earlier this month, they launched a joint “Shop Small” campaign to encourage people to try new local places in their neighborhoods, including giving cash back on statements after using an Amex card at a participating restaurant.

Kelly spoke with AdExchanger.

AdExchanger: How would you sum up Resy’s approach to digital marketing?

HANNAH KELLY: Resy is a discovery platform, and it’s our job from a marketing perspective to provide the right content, intel and access to people so they can discover where to eat and how to get in.


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Our strategy is to think about where and how we can get people to begin their discovery journey. We do that with editorial teams that are out there curating places to eat and looking at every angle, from the diversity of cuisine types and the people behind them to what trends are upcoming.

What channels work best for you?

We find that people often look to their friends and people they follow for places to eat, which is why social works well for us. And email is also core. We segment guests based on what they’re interested in and what they’re searching for, and we highlight that in our email marketing. We also create experiences, like giving certain Amex card members access to top-tier restaurants [through Resy’s global dining access program, for example].

But whatever we do, the goal is for everything to be accretive and, hopefully, turn new guests into regulars.

Resy and American Express "shop small"Still, for many people, Resy isn’t necessarily a destination. It’s one of maybe multiple “book now” buttons on a restaurant’s website. How do you encourage incremental bookings?

I obsess over engagement, but it’s a good question. How do you actually turn a new diner into a regular? We’ve looked at this with our data team to understand what behavior gets someone to make a second or third reservation, as well as how to close the time gap between those activities.

One insight we’ve found is that if someone completes a reservation for a net new place, somewhere they’ve never been before, that person is more likely to take a chance on another new restaurant. We’ve been leaning heavily into that insight for our “Shop Small” campaign.

August is usually a slow time for restaurants, so we launched a campaign to promote local gems and get people to try new places right in their own neighborhoods. If we can get people to visit a new place, we have data to prove that the behavior can become ingrained.

How do you measure success for a campaign like this, beyond just looking at the increase in reservations?

We look at favorability toward Resy, and we work with research companies like Morning Consult to measure brand health and do sentiment tracking. We also look at engagement, which is the main KPI that I care about.

When we were a startup, every dollar needed to tie back to KPIs like how many restaurants are signed up and how many people are making reservations. But now we’re also being scrutinized for the impact that our brand marketing is having.

Brand sentiment, engagement, reservation volume: These things are all connected, and as we spend more on big brand placements, we have to measure it all.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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