I’m not keen to give the recently launched ReservationHop startup attention it doesn’t deserve, but I hope this is a cautionary tale for the startup community.
Here’s how the website works:
- ReservationHop books in-demand restaurant reservations in San Francisco
- Users can pay money to claim the bookings
- ReservationHop provides you “with the name the reservation is under.”
Wait, what? So you have to impersonate someone in order to use the service? This is no better than tech-enabled scalping.
I’m not completely opposed to paying for restaurant reservations. Tables at the best restaurants are a limited and valuable resource for gluttons like myself.
For instance, I recently wrote about the launch of Table8, a startup that also charges for reservations to hard-to-book restaurants, but does so by working directly with the restaurants. You know, so you don’t have to commit low-grade identity theft or fraud before you eat.
ReservationHop says it’s willing to work with restaurants (assuming that there aren’t any legal issues with reselling reservations), but I have a hard time imagining businesses would work with a company that has been spamming their reservation systems with fake names. Then again, Napster managed to pivot from MP3 piracy to a legitimate business, so maybe anything goes.
Unfortunately, startups like this are becoming a trend. MonkeyParking recently launched an app that lets you auction off public parking spaces when you’re ready to leave them. We all agree that city parking is a problem that could be solved, but interjecting your scheme into the distribution of a public resource isn’t the way to do it.
San Francisco already faces conflicts between tech and non-tech residents over issues like rent, privilege and public transportation. If startups like ReservationHop and MonkeyParking have their way, just about every aspect of your life will be transactionalized, appified and monetized. That isn’t the future we want to see.
ReservationHop is free to build whatever it wants, but we’d be better off boycotting it and any other bottom-feeding startups like it.
We’ve reached out to ReservationHop for comment and will update if we hear back from the team.