The rapid rise of smart technologies can make creating and maintaining meaningful human relationships a challenge. In response, EatWith offers its users an authentic dining experience coupled with the opportunity to form new social bonds.
Touted as the Airbnb for dinner parties, EatWith is a community marketplace that lets members enjoy authentic and intimate dining experiences in other people’s homes. Currently available in Israel and Barcelona but with the ambition to spread worldwide, EatWith enables locals to open their kitchens to people from all over the world. By doing so, it provides the opportunity for a new kind of serendipitous socialising within an intimate setting.
Launched in 2013, the idea for EatWith came to founder Guy Michlin during a family vacation in Greece, when eating with a local host family turned out to be the highlight of his trip. Inspired by the unrivaled success of home stay service Airbnb, Michlin and his associate Shemer Schwarz decided to turn this unique dining experience into a new business that would disrupt the restaurant industry. Since then, EatWith has been successfully attracting both locals and tourists due to its strong social components.
EatWith offers an alternative to restaurants that is closer to a social gathering, although it isn’t necessarily a less expensive one; the hosts set their menu and cost, which can stretch up to £200, while EatWith earns 15% for hooking up the hosts with their guests. The company is looking to expand next to Italy, and ultimately worldwide, maintaining high standards every step of the way.
From the spread of spontaneous get-togethers like flashmobs to the rise of SoLoMo apps such as Foursquare, there has been a growing appeal in chance encounters, ‘insider’ knowledge and inclusive sharing. EatWith has successfully tapped into all three, providing tourists with ‘inside’ access to genuine local culture through its cuisine, a shared experience with complete strangers, and the opportunity to potentially form lasting relationships over a mutual interest.
EatWith achieves serendipity through creating a more intimate environment. While restriction and privacy may seem incompatible with chance encounters, a small group of strangers in a highly private environment will voluntarily be more open to interaction than if they were sat together at a communal table in a busy restaurant. Thus, the opportunity for brands which want to act as a social glue lies in successfully interweaving serendipity with insider privilege that addresses both the suspicion of mainstream sources and the desire for personal involvement.