Michelin may have gone a step too far with its acquisition of BookaTable, an online restaurant reservation platform earlier this week.
With the acquisition of BookaTable, Michelin becomes the European online restaurant reservation leader. But the company that is also famous for its Michelin guides is likely to face criticism for a huge conflict of interest.
When announcing the acquisition of BookaTable, Michelin said that the acquisition strengthens and accelerates the development of Michelin’s technology platform for online restaurant reservations. “The association between Michelin, the world restaurant guide leader with its MICHELIN guide, and BookaTable, the European leader in the online restaurant reservation market, helps restaurateurs develop their business by offering new solutions and helps customers by making it easier to book.”
While this might make commercial sense, the company can expect a barrage of criticism if it decides to downgrade restaurants or else decide not to award a Michelin star to a chef and restaurant that deserves it according to other critics.
The Michelin guide which is loved and hated by many, has the power to make or break a restaurant and its chef. Now, for the first time, Michelin is opening itself to the possibility that chefs turn the tables on the guide and accuse it of a conflict of interest. And they will be right given that Michelin expects to ‘help restauranteurs develop their business.’
So what happens if restaurants decide not to play ball with Michelin and BookaTable? How is Michelin going to react? How is it going to ensure the ‘independence’ of its inspectors and how is it going to avoid criticism even if its inspectors are holier than the pope?
While Michelin already had a partnership with BookaTable since 2013, the acquisition could be construed as a step too far.
BookaTable, with its head office in London, UK, is the European leader in the online restaurant reservation market with more than 15,000 establishments using its service, and more than 34 million covers booked in 2015 in Europe.
BookaTable provides an unrivalled service for both consumers and restaurants. For consumers, BookaTable is the go-to site for diners. Whether it’s inspiring, browsing, booking or dining, BookaTable creates memorable experiences and diners with the opportunity to book amazing restaurants, wherever they are, whatever the occasion.
For restaurants, BookaTable is the indispensable partner of the industry, helping to fill restaurants with diners at the right times and manage those diners to deliver the best possible service. From high- street favourites, to local eateries or the finest Michelin-starred restaurants, BookaTable helps all types of restaurant.