Dining Reservation App Tests Event Ticketing at Food & Wine Classic

Guests at the Aspen festival quickly snatched up front-row seats to some of the educational seminars.

By Mitra Sorrells June 30, 2015, 7:15 AM EDT

The Grand Tasting Pavilion is the epicenter of the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, where 300 epicurean and lifestyle brands showcase their products. Attendees gather to taste wine and food from around the globe, meet and greet winemakers and star chefs, and more.

Photo: Galdones Photography/Food & Wine

Resy, an app that launched in 2014 to offer last-minute reservations at in-demand restaurants, tried a new service at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colorado, held June 19 to 21. The app partnered with Food & Wine to offer the festival’s first flash sale for front-row seats to four seminars. The seats sold out in 10 minutes, and organizers said they will explore similar offerings at future events.

“We did it on a really small scale this year because it was a new idea and a test, and I can’t imagine that we won’t roll it out next year in a bigger way,” said Christina Grdovic, senior vice president and publisher of Food & Wine.

Guests used the app to purchase reserved seats for $10, with proceeds going to Good for Grow benefiting Wholesome Wave. Resy co-founder Ben Leventhal said that while the app’s focus is on restaurant reservations, he will continue to look for alternative opportunities, such as events, in the future.

“The Resy platform is built in a way that we can power all kinds of different things,“ Leventhal said. “Our customer is somebody who is booking last minute and appreciates the convenience Resy can offer. This was an opportunity to not wait in line and get a front-row seat—a way where we can make the booking process enhance the hospitality. Any time we are using our tech to do fun stuff like that and create great access it’s a big win, and customers responded really well.”

In addition to the seminar seats, Resy also sponsored and managed reservations for Charlie Bird at Jimmy’s Bodega, a two-day flash restaurant during the festival that was a collaboration between New York’s Charlie Bird and Aspen’s Jimmy’s Bodega restaurants serving a five-course prix-fixe meal.

“We see events as content. I generally use content to drive my thinking in terms of creating a great experience and to give them something that otherwise wouldn’t be possible,” Leventhal said.

About 5,000 people attended this year’s Food & Wine Classic, including consumers, exhibitors, staff, press, and volunteers. Grdovic said the number of attendees is consistent from year to year, in part dictated by the number of flights and hotel rooms in Aspen.

“It’s a tricky business model because when you can’t grow the number of tickets you sell, you need to grow other things. So over the years there are more events within the events, more choices of things for people to go to,” she said. “I used to say I want to be in two places at once but now I want to be in 10 places at once because there is so much interesting stuff going on.”

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