Would you pay for a difficult-to-get reservation at a restaurant?

Tables at some of the most popular restaurants in town are often booked months in advance and, let’s face it, you never think that far ahead. A new trend that is already deeply enthralled in the US allows you to snag that table for two at a prime dining establishment without all the planning and scheduling.

Some have gone so far as to call it the democratisation of an exclusive system, which in many cases only accepts reservations from well-known customers. Apps such as Zurvu or Resy are the leaders of the trend and have already partnered with hundreds of restaurants to make for an improved customer experience.

Some eateries agree with this new system. For them an empty table means a lot of wasted food and lost profits. The idea behind all these pay-to-play systems that has convinced so many is that, in fact, it avoids no-shows.

Apps like Zurvu have given it a bit of a twist: you pay $5 for each diner and $1 goes to charity while the rest is split with the restaurant owner. The five dollars you pay are just a way of avoiding all the hassle of dealing with a receptionist at the restaurant itself.

Other restaurants however do not like the idea. Having customers pay for a service that is ultimately free makes many establishments weary of partnering with these services. The difference with US reservation giant OpenTable is that instead of having the restaurant pay a fee for the app managing its reservations, it’s now the customer who does the paying.

The concept of paying for a reservation is not new, however. In some European countries it is common practice to ask for a reservation fee, the credit card number of a customer or to ask diners to pay the price of the menu in advance.

Now we’ll just have to wait and see how these apps perform in the US and maybe that democratisation will soon also arrive to Europe and beyond.