Resy Rewards

seamlessly integrating a loyalty feature to increase brand engagement and customer satisfaction

company: resy - conceptual // role: Product Designer // team: solo project

Resy is a market disruptor in the reservation booking platform space, quickly expanding its presence in major cities across the U.S. Its flat fee business model has attracted a large number of new, trendy restaurants, but there has been little focus on the consumer-side experience, resulting in low brand recognition and loyalty.

Good things happening here...

making reservations rewarding

How might we enhance the Resy experience to make booking reservations fun and rewarding, rather than a chore?

Sharing a meal with friends and loved ones is so much more than just eating food. Exploring new restaurants, neighborhoods, and cuisines is a hobby for many, and a career for a lucky few. However, the process of booking a reservation is not nearly as exciting - for many, it's a means to an end, and it can feel like a chore.

At this time, Resy only has a Rewards Program that was rolled out in July 2021 for American Express cardholders, called "Global Dining Access". While the program offers some positive features, it has low visibility, and the program's exclusivity leaves many loyal users out if they hold the wrong kind of plastic. I hypothesized that a Rewards Program that is free to all users and loyalty-based will lead to greater brand recognition, engagement, and ultimately more reservations, while providing an improved experience to users.

empathizing through research

In order to design the best Rewards Program possible for Resy users, that would add value and increase user engagement, I created a Research Plan to answer the following questions:

What kind of user would gain the most value from a rewards program?

How do people like to discover restaurants and make reservations?

What kind of features would make a rewards program attractive?

What are common pain points with existing rewards systems?

I conducted research through three major methods: analyzing competitor programs, talking to potential users, and surveying current Resy users.

sizing up the competition

I spent time researching Resy’s main competitors to investigate what kind of loyalty program they offered their users as a jumping off point for a program for Resy. OpenTable is Resy’s main competitor, and the long-time market leader for reservation booking platforms. Competitors such as Resy and Tock have been able to eat into some of OpenTable's market share as they offer better benefits and pricing to restaurants. OpenTable is the only reservation booking platform with a robust rewards program. However, Resy is becoming increasingly popular with trendy, high-end restaurants in major cities.


Users book reservations based on the restaurants they want to try. For a long time, the majority of these reservations were made via OpenTable, which also rewards users for their reservations. As more restaurants switch to powering reservations through Resy, users are forced to switch to Resy, but are disappointed that Resy does not reward them or track loyalty.

talking to users

My next step was to talk to people who live in major cities and enjoy eating out to collect more information on how users currently make reservations and how users respond to brand loyalty programs. I recruited 9 participants for 30 minute 1-on-1 interviews to learn more about how different users liked to make reservations, and hopefully uncover some trends. True to form from my Finance background, I took notes via spreadsheet to help quickly visualize trends and sort data.

Early on in my interviews, I identified that when foodies make a reservation, they almost always have a specific restaurant in mind, rather than discovering restaurants via OpenTable or Resy. I began to wonder, how can we add enough value through the Rewards Program that users will want to look on Resy first / prefer Resy?

At the moment, there is very little brand loyalty for reservation booking platforms. While all participants knew OpenTable to be the dominant platform for a long time, participants identified that Resy was picking up in popularity, especially with newer, trendy restaurants.

"It seems like they have cooler restaurants"

"A lot of the nicer, newer restaurants are using Resy these days, so I've felt myself switching"

"Everywhere I go now has Resy"

survey says

I sent out a quick 5-minute survey to current Resy users to expand my reach and collect more data on how users interact with Resy. I received 34 responses and gained some valuable insights about reservation booking preferences.

What makes you choose Resy over other booking methods?
82% said the restaurant they had in mind is powered by Resy

Would a Rewards Program make you want to use Resy more often?
44% said "Yes"
47% said "Depends on what the rewards are"

What rewards features would you be interested in?
Top 3 responses:
- Priority booking on restaurants
- Restaurant gift cards/discounts
- Priority on waitlist for tables

synthesizing the results

key insights

After conducting all of my research, I put together a quick cheat-sheet of key takeaways that I wanted to keep in mind about what I had learned.


Resy users often don't open the Resy app as a first stop, or visit the app at all. Instead, they book through the restaurant website, which leads to the Resy widget


Users should be able to redeem rewards seamlessly through the mobile widget, not just the Resy app


Pretty much all participants know OpenTable has a Rewards Program but never redeem rewards. The biggest drawbacks are not earning rewards fast/valuable enough, and forgetting about the program


Users should earn rewards at a pace and value that matches what users feel is achievable, and users should be prompted to apply them when booking a reservation.


People in major cities don't go to the same restaurant a lot


Perks should be more general rather than restaurant specific

know your audience

From my research, I found there were two archetypes of reservation-makers that would most enjoy the Resy Rewards Program. I created primary personas to keep my thinking human-centered first, and explore how they would make reservations and what motivates them. Enter Hannah and Derek - two young, urban professionals that love dining out.

redefining the problem

product strategy

My interviews tested my assumption that users liked the OpenTable Rewards Program and would be directly comparing a Resy program to its competitor. Instead, I found that users didn't engage with the OpenTable program due to its low visibility and the slow pace of earning only small rewards. This second factor was essential to improve upon in my solution, but without a simple answer with the limitations and scope of my project. Figuring out the frequency and amount of the rewards users want is one thing, but offering the rewards comes at a cost to Resy. Actually shipping a complete Rewards Program would involve market research and financial analysis to pinpoint how deep the discounts could be. I recognize that this is a limitation to my project, as I did not have the time or resources to do this analysis.

In order to justify the addition of the Rewards Program to Resy management, the following would have to happen:

Resy launches Rewards Program and incurs costs from offering discounts and gift cards to users as rewards

Users enjoy rewards and start engaging with Resy more, and make more reservations through Resy

Restaurants favor Resy over OpenTable because data shows users prefer Resy and they book more tables through Resy

More users engage with Resy, and more restaurants choose Resy to power their reservations

For the scope of this project, I recognized that I wouldn't have all of the answers to what would actually be viable to Resy in regards to the frequency and amount of the rewards, but instead would have to make some assumptions.

I decided to keep the focus on the questions that I could answer as a UX Designer, and refined my project's big "How Might We" question:

How might we make the Rewards Program memorable, visible, and usable?

introducing: Resy Rewards

program highlights

Passive rewards system: Rewards are auto-applied to reservations with high visibility at confirmation

Simple 1 credit per 1 reservation system that is easy to learn

Users can unlock further benefits and higher tiers of membership by making more reservations

Rewards Center in app that explains the perks, how to earn, and how to redeem

I wanted to pilot as simple a program as possible to make it learnable and usable, without sacrificing engagement and fun.

Don't make me think
Resy users are auto-enrolled into Resy Rewards when they sign up for an account. Users earn one rewards credit* earned per reservation across the board. When a user earns enough credits to apply a reward, that reward is auto-applied to their next reservation with high visibility.

*I chose the language of "Rewards Credit" over points to signal that the system is not based on $ spend, as users usually associate $ spend = points earned.

Redeeming rewards
Users can redeem the credits they earn for rewards. I chose rewards to demo such as complimentary drinks, or $10 off, which were popular incentives according to my research.

Rising in the ranks
Separate from just redeeming rewards, I envisioned that users could book enough credits to unlock higher tiers of membership and gain other benefits, such as early booking on tables and access to special events. Different tiers of membership would also increase the gamification aspect of the program and help keep users engaged.

Roadblock: Balancing simplicity with delivering value
My biggest challenge in designing a realistic system was that I wanted to incorporate earning credits to redeem for rewards AND to unlock higher tiers of membership. My concern was that users could desert the system if they had to keep track of redeeming credits for rewards vs. counting how many credits they had to unlock higher tiers of membership. Setting a lot of different dates and earning periods could be confusing. Successful rewards programs that have this model include Sephora and Uber, and several of my research participants cited Sephora as a favorite rewards program. However, it was daunting to introduce a lot of new rules surrounding earning periods and credit expirations.

I considered deserting the tier model and just focusing on credits, but I felt the value of unlocking desirable benefits and the engagement from gamification was enough to try to make it work.

In my early prototype, I decided on a 3-month earning period, but kept a lot of the rules vague, as I felt that for the scope of the project and time constraints, it wasn't necessary to go further. Spoiler alert: this was challenged when I conducted my usability tests... stay tuned!

integrating into existing user flows

For the scope of this design challenge, I wanted to design and prototype the Rewards Center, and booking a reservation via mobile widget and via the Resy app. I decided to focus on mobile, as pretty much all of my research participants said they made reservations on their phone. Although I hoped my design would encourage interaction with the Resy app, it was important to me to include the mobile web booking, as this was a common behavior for users to make reservations. I first mapped out the existing user flows for both methods.

I wanted to integrate the Rewards System as seamlessly as possible into Resy's existing flows so that users wouldn't have to learn completely new patterns. In my research, users often didn't redeem OpenTable rewards because they forget about the system. OpenTable users need to redeem rewards through the OpenTable website or app in the Rewards Center.

Auto-applying eligible rewards to each reservation booking would eliminate this problem. Of course, users will sometimes want to switch the reward they redeem or decide to not apply one at all, so the new flows included the quick optionality to do so.

integrating ui

One of the challenges of this project was blending into Resy UI without the company's actual kit and guidelines. I recreated Resy components as best as I could, as well as picking up on design patterns to help inform me on how to design new Resy Rewards components. From small details, such as capitalizing every first letter of Heading text, to big patterns like Resy's dark and light modes, I wanted to make sure that the new elements I created would fit in seamlessly.

branding: resy gold

Resy's current UI features strong reds and blue against neutrals. I wanted to introduce a third color for the branding of the Rewards Program to make it stand out. The gold shade I settled on was borrowed from the old Resy Select program, which I felt was a strong choice as it evoked luxury and treasure.

ui kit

designing the solution

the card

For the reservation booking flows, it was essential to design an unobtrusive, yet highly visible way to show the auto-applied reward, along with a way to select another reward. The primary Call to Action in my user flows was still to confirm the reservation - the "Reserve Now" button, but a brightly colored card placed right above that button offered a no-brainer way for the user to be reminded of the auto-applied reward before confirming. Interacting with the card was fun and intuitive.

Identifying the design patterns to best fit with existing Resy UI was a focus for me with the card. I created several drafts of the card using different formats and colors, especially in Light Mode. I settled on my final choice as I felt it best reflected current patterns, was readable, and didn't steal focus from the main Call to Action.

the rewards center

I designed one entirely new user flow that was low effort but full of impact: visiting the Rewards Center. For maximum visibility for the Rewards Program, I wanted a clear link to visit it from the home screen of the app, rather than buried in the user profile section. The Center itself included key features: current member tier status, current credit balance, eligible rewards and current benefits, and a breakdown of how the rewards program works in case users want to review.

putting it to the test

I moderated five usability tests over Zoom to have users explore my prototype and provide valuable feedback. Users completed the tasks to book reservations and redeem rewards with ease. They liked the auto-apply feature, the gold branding, and felt that the program would motivate them to use Resy more often.

high impact
high effort

information modal

In my early prototype, I did not develop the information modal, as I assumed that users were familiar enough with rewards programs to complete the tasks. While that may be true, after my first test full of questions about the program, it was apparent that users needed more context on how Resy Rewards worked, and that this was also key information to have available to users at all times. Although earning points and redeeming rewards is a familiar pattern to users, each rewards program has its own rules and particulars that users might want to review as they continue to use the app over the long term.

solution: For the scope of the project, I decided that creating the information modal on how the program worked would add a lot of value.

high impact
medium effort

the progress bar

Users liked the progress bar, but they were confused about the scale ending at 30. What happened if they reached 30? From feedback from testing, most users felt 30 was too low, and I needed to further specify how the membership tiers worked.

Originally, I conceived of the program as credits expiring over 3 months, and picked 30 as a jumping off point assuming this was realistically hard to achieve in a 3-month period.

solution: I changed the scale to make the program seem more realistic, and I clarified and simplified the membership tier system to make it easy to learn. Users could unlock the "VIP" level by booking 60 reservations in the calendar year, which would gain them access to more benefits for the rest of that calendar year and the following one. Users needed to book 60 reservations per year to maintain that status. This decision was modeled after the Sephora rewards system.

Before and After

medium impact
low effort

aesthetic changes

Users gave me feedback about small aesthetic changes to make to my UI that confused them at first glance, or were not what they expected

solution: I made a few minor changes to the UI, such as changing the Light Mode badge so it didn't look like a button, and making the card preview smaller and less text-heavy. These fixes were low effort but helped to create a more polished product that also helped users interact more smoothly with the app.

the final prototype

final thoughts

Overall, I was really happy with how the product turned out. Through my user research and usability testing, I found that all participants agreed that a rewards program would increase their engagement with Resy and make them more likely to use the app over other reservation booking platforms. Booking reservations would now be fun and rewarding, rather than just a means to an end!

There is still a lot to explore in regards to the exact Terms & Conditions of a sustainable and profitable rewards program. However, such a program is well worth developing! It would add a lot of value to Resy and to its users.

Opportunity for further development: In the future, Resy could add further tiers of membership with deeper rewards to sustain engagement.