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Fat Guy

Reservations and Regulars at Momos and

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So, having concluded that the 10am game is about as productive as playing Powerball, I decided to shift to a different strategy: looking for cancellations. I opened up a browser window on the Ko reservations site and refreshed it lots of times throughout the day -- just sort of in between any other two online things I was doing. At around midnight, a reservation popped up and I grabbed it. Unfortunately it was for a date and time that didn't work for me, so I canceled it soon after booking it (more on that later), but at least the strategy seems workable.

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I thought I was having a bit more luck over the weekend but seem instead to have discovered some glichiness. Logged on at 10 sharp both Saturday and Sunday and both times clicked onto green checkmarks quickly enough to get to the "we are holding this reservation for you for 60 seconds" page with the countdown clock. When I clicked the "accept reservation" button on that page I got the "sorry, someone just grabbed this spot" message. Same thing Sunday. I've emailed the Ko tech guys but have heard nothing back so far.

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... at least the strategy seems workable.

Oh great, now I'm gonna be up all night clicking "reload". :raz:

I had my first experience of Ko Denial today. I'll be in NYC next week, so I figured I'd enter the "lottery" along with however many thousand fellow players there might be. It's astonishing how quickly the reservation system goes from "wait for it" to a grid of red XXX.

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I thought I was having a bit more luck over the weekend but seem instead to have discovered some glichiness. Logged on at 10 sharp both Saturday and Sunday and both times clicked onto green checkmarks quickly enough to get to the "we are holding this reservation for you for 60 seconds" page with the countdown clock. When I clicked the "accept reservation" button on that page I got the "sorry, someone just grabbed this spot" message. Same thing Sunday. I've emailed the Ko tech guys but have heard nothing back so far.

One of the many problems with the Ko reservations system is the sense that it just doesn't work right. I've experienced so many glitches of that nature (hangups, error messages, being directed to the wrong page or out of the system altogether) that I have very little confidence that I'll get the reservation even if I'm the first diligent early-bird clicker. And of course in the 10am scenario you get no second chances.

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One of the many problems with the Ko reservations system is the sense that it just doesn't work right. I've experienced so many glitches of that nature (hangups, error messages, being directed to the wrong page or out of the system altogether) that I have very little confidence that I'll get the reservation even if I'm the first diligent early-bird clicker. And of course in the 10am scenario you get no second chances.

One of the lessons is that software development is hard. When you unveil a brand new system for the most hotly anticipated new restaurant in years, you're going to make mistakes.

Team Chang could have met most of their objectives by just signing up for OpenTable. They would have sacrificed the ability to customize the system precisely to their needs, but in return, they would have gained an already-working system that has been out there a few years.

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And now that they've raised the price of dinner to $100 the old excuses -- that OpenTable is too expensive, that having someone answer the phone is too expensive -- seem even less compelling.

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And now that they've raised the price of dinner to $100 the old excuses -- that OpenTable is too expensive, that having someone answer the phone is too expensive -- seem even less compelling.

They never actually said that OpenTable was too expensive; that's our surmise. When you consider server costs, operating costs, and development costs, I'm not so sure that's true. I have always assumed that Chang wanted to do it "his way," which would only be possible with a system he controlled.

The telephone operator is a tougher problem. Let's say they're taking 20 reservations a night—each reservation being for 1, 2, or 4 people. It means you would be paying someone to say "yes" 20 times a day, and "no, nothing available" about 2,000 times.

If there's just a single reservationist, and s/he spends 2 minutes on the phone with each successful caller, that means everyone trying to get in is held up for 40 minutes until the final slot is taken. Under the current system, you give it a whirl at 10:00, and by 10:01 you have your answer.

I would add that if you don't want customers to face nearly continuous busy signals, you need a lot of extra equipment and more than just one phone line, so the costs do add up. For an idea of what that would be like, just try Babbo at 10:00 a.m.

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And now that they've raised the price of dinner to $100 the old excuses -- that OpenTable is too expensive, that having someone answer the phone is too expensive -- seem even less compelling.

I still like the current system, despite the fact that I'm having less luck than before and this is the first glitch I've encountered, not counting day 1. Other problems I've had have related either to bandwith problems on my end (I have much better luck from home than I do from work) and the sheer number of users slamming their server. I don't know that OpenTable is built for this kind of volume aimed at a single restaurant once a day for 10 seconds.

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Bandwidth problems on your end? It's a very low bandwidth site. A dialup modem should be more than sufficient.

The sheer number of users slamming on the server? There are plenty of web services that handle a lot more simultaneous traffic. It only seems like a lot if you're operating on a single, average-capacity server. And the Ko system could be designed to avoid that daily slam in many different ways: a waiting list, a different reservation-release strategy, etc.

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Speaking of glitches...I was finally around at 10 am with nothing going on at work so I tried to get reservation today. I sign in and keep refreshing until 10 am hits. I pick 2 people and click on 8:15. Eureka!!! I get a reservation and all I need to do is confirm. I click "Accept" and I sit there watching a clock count from 60 seconds down. With about ~32 seconds left I get an error message and I lose the reservation. This was my first time getting through to a confirmation page. I have only tried about 10 times, so the odds are against me. It was pretty frustrating getting "through" only to have an error cost me my reservation.

Given the amount of available reservations, to me, it doesn't make much sense to have a hostess taking reservations. Like others have said, the reservations are gone too fast!! You would be hiring someone just to repeat that there are no reservations. My only issue is that I am rarely around at 10 am to give it a shot.

I have read/heard rumors about them adding a lunch seating. Does anyone know if this is true?

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Bandwidth problems on your end? It's a very low bandwidth site. A dialup modem should be more than sufficient.

Clearly it's a low bandwith site. That's why I said it was a problem on my end. And maybe it's not bandwidth, maybe it's my employer's networking setup or firewall or maybe I just have a crappy computer at work or maybe I need to empty a buffer of some sort ... I just know that I get much faster speed and everything - including and especially Ko - loads and functions faster for me at with my cable connection at home than through the network at my office.

Notwithstanding that, I'm still not sure what the issue is with the current Ko system as I don't buy the premise that the site is any glitchier than most ... I actually think it's a generally more elegant and friendly UI than open table. I don't think them managing a waiting list is going to do much good as long as there are thousands of people every day trying to reservations in a room that holds 12. It seems to me that other than the Craigslist guy who's figured out the way to game the system, the resy system is working exactly as it was envisioned.

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the resy system is working exactly as it was envisioned.

I don't think these examples are representative of how the system was envisioned:

Speaking of glitches...I was finally around at 10 am with nothing going on at work so I tried to get reservation today. I sign in and keep refreshing until 10 am hits. I pick 2 people and click on 8:15. Eureka!!! I get a reservation and all I need to do is confirm. I click "Accept" and I sit there watching a clock count from 60 seconds down. With about ~32 seconds left I get an error message and I lose the reservation.

the many problems with the Ko reservations system is the sense that it just doesn't work right. I've experienced so many glitches of that nature (hangups, error messages, being directed to the wrong page or out of the system altogether) that I have very little confidence that I'll get the reservation even if I'm the first diligent early-bird clicker. And of course in the 10am scenario you get no second chances.

I thought I was having a bit more luck over the weekend but seem instead to have discovered some glichiness. Logged on at 10 sharp both Saturday and Sunday and both times clicked onto green checkmarks quickly enough to get to the "we are holding this reservation for you for 60 seconds" page with the countdown clock. When I clicked the "accept reservation" button on that page I got the "sorry, someone just grabbed this spot" message. Same thing Sunday. I've emailed the Ko tech guys but have heard nothing back so far.

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Bandwidth problems on your end? It's a very low bandwidth site. A dialup modem should be more than sufficient.

At the margins, a fast connection between your computer and the Information Superhighway could mean the difference between your "click" reaching the server first, or someone else's.
I have read/heard rumors about them adding a lunch seating. Does anyone know if this is true?

Hasn't happened yet, but I've very little doubt that it will.
Notwithstanding that, I'm still not sure what the issue is with the current Ko system as I don't buy the premise that the site is any glitchier than most ... I actually think it's a generally more elegant and friendly UI than open table.

You could certainly make the argument for elegance, but not for buggyness.

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the resy system is working exactly as it was envisioned.

I don't think these examples are representative of how the system was envisioned:

Speaking of glitches...I was finally around at 10 am with nothing going on at work so I tried to get reservation today. I sign in and keep refreshing until 10 am hits. I pick 2 people and click on 8:15. Eureka!!! I get a reservation and all I need to do is confirm. I click "Accept" and I sit there watching a clock count from 60 seconds down. With about ~32 seconds left I get an error message and I lose the reservation.

the many problems with the Ko reservations system is the sense that it just doesn't work right. I've experienced so many glitches of that nature (hangups, error messages, being directed to the wrong page or out of the system altogether) that I have very little confidence that I'll get the reservation even if I'm the first diligent early-bird clicker. And of course in the 10am scenario you get no second chances.

I thought I was having a bit more luck over the weekend but seem instead to have discovered some glichiness. Logged on at 10 sharp both Saturday and Sunday and both times clicked onto green checkmarks quickly enough to get to the "we are holding this reservation for you for 60 seconds" page with the countdown clock. When I clicked the "accept reservation" button on that page I got the "sorry, someone just grabbed this spot" message. Same thing Sunday. I've emailed the Ko tech guys but have heard nothing back so far.

Of the three folks whose posts you cite, there's one person who had a couple of problems this weekend but who thinks the system has held up generally well (me); and there's one person who had a problem this morning ... and you're the only one so far I've heard saying the gliches are an ongoing chronic problem. I'm on there with the rest of the world as many mornings at 10am as not and this past weekend was the only time I saw any real snag (again, if you don't count opening day and even on opening day I was able to get a resy). I think if you consider the traffic and the fact that this is the first time I've seen a restaurant develop its own online resy system from scratch - and if you consider they've been making tweaks to the system pretty steadily, I'll stand by my assertion that, yeah, it's got a pretty solid track record as far as I'm concerned. Again, I totally understand if you don't like it - lots of people don't - but I don't see any overwhelming evidence that it's generally working as planned. I did get a prompt response from their tech support folks who are looking into the problem and have promised to get back to me.

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I have read/heard rumors about them adding a lunch seating. Does anyone know if this is true?

yeah, I asked them about lunch when I ate there monday. They said it was coming, but detail were yet to be decided. They don't yet know if it will be the same menu and number of courses as dinner, or if it will be something different. Who knows, they may just take walk-ins at lunch.

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Who knows, they may just take walk-ins at lunch.

I'm willing to take the bet that they won't.

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Do they employ any security measures to prevent people from creating web bots to make reservations? If not, I'm surprised no one has done it yet: just program the bot and let it hit the site a zillion times starting at 9:59.

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It's not a simple matter of clicking a million times. You basically get one click, after selecting the desired number of seats from the dropdown menu. Try it one morning and you'll see it would require a fairly advanced program, sort of like Auction Sniper. I imagine that's why it hasn't commonly (if ever) been done.

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Is any restaurant worth all this trouble?

What ever happened to hospitality :wacko:

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Is any restaurant worth all this trouble?

What ever happened to hospitality  :wacko:

It's not the restaurant's fault that so many people want to dine there.

True, they don't give you someone to talk to. But you also never get a busy signal or wait on hold, as you do at any other comparably busy place—the early days of Per Se come to mind, and that's but one example.

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Is any restaurant worth all this trouble?

What ever happened to hospitality   :wacko:

It's not the restaurant's fault that so many people want to dine there.

True, they don't give you someone to talk to. But you also never get a busy signal or wait on hold, as you do at any other comparably busy place—the early days of Per Se come to mind, and that's but one example.

Supply and demand comes to mind.

If you stop calling................they will change their reservation process to something less frustrating :smile:

How about extending the length window to make a resy


Edited by CFO999 (log)

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It's not their process that's frustrating.  It's the demand.

In order to test that assertion, we'd need to perform an experiment: we'd need to try another process to see if it created more or less frustration.

By my calculations there are about 4,000 reservations available per year at Momofuku Ko. So, if we are to believe Ko is after a truly "egalitarian" system then the purest forms of that system would be, I believe, a queue or a lottery. So let's say there are 8,000 people who want reservations. I have no idea what the actual number is. In a queue system, you'd just give each person a number in the order of registration on the website. Your number is 3,288, okay, that means you're going to get your reservation in about 10 months. We'll contact you in 9 months to offer you some slots and you can pick one. In a lottery system you say okay, today we've picked the following 12 people to have reservations next Tuesday. The first person picked gets first choice of time, etc. You also pick alternates if a few people in the first group of 12 don't work out. In both cases, you don't get to enter again until everybody gets a reservation.

I personally would find that system less annoying than the current system. And I imagine most folks who haven't gotten in yet (we can safely say that's the overwhelming majority of people trying to get in) would too. Certainly, in a few more months they'll agree, even if they're still optimists now. It's going to be frustrating to some people no matter what, but it may be possible to reduce the level of frustration.

Meanwhile I think there is probably a group of people who, because they happen to be on servers with short hops to the Ko server, or because they're really good at mouse clicking, or whatever, are getting in to Ko multiple times.

So I think, yes, the high demand and need for rationing does indeed make for some unavoidable frustration. But there's also frustration that's attributable to the process itself, which I think is a weak process that is not yielding the desired result. Well, I should say that, assuming the desired result is "everybody has an equal chance of getting in," it's not achieving that result.

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It's not their process that's frustrating.  It's the demand.

So, if we are to believe Ko is after a truly "egalitarian" system then the purest forms of that system would be, I believe, a queue or a lottery.

Remind me again when it was that Chang said the reservation system was going to be egalitarian.


Edited by jimk (log)

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