Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

opentable.com


glenn
 Share

Recommended Posts

This is purely from a consumer perspective, but I use opentable.com all the time.  It is one of my favorite websites, as it makes the reservation-making process vastly easier, especially now tht there is a decent selection of restaurants.

I am probably an anomaly, but when thinking about where to eat dinner, I often check to see where reservations are available on opentable, and only make phone calls to set up reservations if I *really* can't find anywhere acceptable there.   This ends up meaning that restaurants have a significantly greater chance of getting my business as a result of being on opentable, particularly if they are any good.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We've used OpenTable many times.

As Jordyn mentioned, sometimes it's just easier to see what's available in the destination neighborhood. By seeing a wider range, you avoid the trap of always using the same 5-6 places.

Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Known about Opentable since 1999 (they were a presence at the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs conference), only just used them for the first time about a week ago.  Very good experience.  I hate hate hate telephoning.  And I hate being stuck on hold.  But I love being on the 'net.  Most of the times I eat out, I just walk in; but when I need to make reservations, I will probably use them because it's so painless and easy.  Fun, even.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think OpenTable has a software program where if the patron was a no show this info pops up the next time they try to make a reservation.

Yes, precisely.  We saw a demo today and signed up.  The software sold us.  Great reservation and seating software, plus lots of other niceties, like tracking no shows, not to mention tracking who came 2 minutes late, tracking what regulars drink, etc.  Big brother is watching.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great reservation and seating software, plus lots of other niceties, like tracking no shows, not to mention tracking who came 2 minutes late, tracking what regulars drink, etc.  Big brother is watching.

What we drink!!! That is a little scary.

But on the plus side, does the software allow to put in good comments for regular diners? As a diner myself, it would be cool to give a restaurant a little reminder that a "good" diner is coming, and thus maybe get a little comp or extra attention. A reward for diligent loyalty? :smile:

This would apply to more expensive restaurants that I can't afford to go to every week AND make rent. I'm sure that if you can frequent a restaurant at the same time every week and tip well, they'll remember you. But if you can only go once a month, then it's more difficult.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

OpenTable also allows the prospective diner to include a message to the house with the reservation.

"It's our anniversary" or "I'm treating my friend Tommy, so make sure we get the good wine list" or "I'm allergic to tofu"

Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What we drink!!! That is a little scary.

But on the plus side, does the software allow to put in good comments for regular diners? As a diner myself, it would be cool to give a restaurant a little reminder that a "good" diner is coming, and thus maybe get a little comp or extra attention. A reward for diligent loyalty? :smile:

This would apply to more expensive restaurants that I can't afford to go to every week AND make rent. I'm sure that if you can frequent a restaurant at the same time every week and tip well, they'll remember you. But if you can only go once a month, then it's more difficult.

The software automatically tracks how many times you've eaten with the establishment, how many times you cancelled, where you sat and some other things.  Any other info can be added to the comment section, like cheap tipper, what you drink,  flirts with the staff, etc.  Opentable also offers a point incentive... I think you get 100 points for using them each time, though I don't know what that tranlsates into dollar wise.  Not much, I think $1.  But people are funny and often go to great lengths to accumulate such points.  You can redeem the points in the form of a check good at a participating restaurant.  The restaurant can also add points to what opentable offers (at the restaurant's expense).  That's an attractive feature for us -- we could offer points to get people in on slow nights, or early on.  Check out their website.  I think you'll be surprised at the wide range of restaurants that use them, at least in NY, from cheap to 4 star.  Jeez, I should get a commission from opentable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a diner myself, it would be cool to give a restaurant a little reminder that a "good" diner is coming, and thus maybe get a little comp or extra attention. A reward for diligent loyalty? :

I like to make a 'point' at these places...meet the waiter or sommelier, or some service person who made a difference. We usually order high end wines. so that helps.  Then, I write a quick thank you. or acknowledgement of our good time.Sometimes to the chef, but usually to a service person.  I send this out RIGHT away. literally at the PO the next morning... then, I call  to make the next reservation,....I go to Diamonds only 6x a year, but I speak to the same person and always have a great meal...might not work across the board, but it works for me. (I might add, my notes and calls are really sincere, because I really do appreciate a good meal and dining experience!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

On glenn's observations -- While I have not yet utilized opentable and do not know how Boulud currently deploys the system, below are certain excerpts on opentable from L Brenner, "The Fourth Star" (2002, addressing the 2000-2001 period):

"Open Table is a computerized reservations system . . . if it words as planned, it will radically simplify keeping track of a wealth of information about customers -- everything from what they ate on their last visit to whether they're a journalist or a friend of one of the sous-chefs. Further down the road, customers will even be able to reserve a table on-line [this has already occurred].  The program will automatically print out soignes [guests to be accorded favorable treatment] . . . ."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Wall Street Journal had a piece on just this topic in Thursday's editions.  How restaurants use opentable and AMEX to selectively dole out tables to "good customers" while maintaining their exclusivity.

Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rail Paul -- To clarify, is the tracking of information about clients specific to a given restaurant?  For example, if I dine at Restaurant A, which uses opentable and which notes my preferences, I assume that Restaurant B using the same software does not receive the information collected by Restaurant A.

Do members know whether all restaurants that rely on opentable to accept some reservations have the tracking software?  In other words, is the tracking an integral part of the software or an additional, purchased add-on? Hmm -- This might present opportunities to establish oneself as a recognized diner at places at Daniel (although the Bruno Jamais problem might still exist).   :confused:

Also, are members who are affiliated with restaurants aware of ways in which Amex can be helpful in obtaining reservations, apart from the platinum reservations service?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cabrales - Perhaps Glenn might comment on how much individually identifiable info a restaurant sees. Perhaps it was in the demo he received.

My reading of the article inferred that some information was available across the platform (e.g., in the top quartile of tippers, etc) but the article was not explicit on this point.

Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Opentable appears to have a program similar to frequent flyers, involving dining checks.  "Dining Cheques are gift certificates from OpenTable which can be redeemed at OpenTable restaurants nationwide."

100 Points is earned for each reservation made through the site. The redemption amounts are as follows:

1,000 Points = $10 Dining Cheque  

2,500 Points = $25 Dining Cheque  

5,000 Points = $50 Dining Cheque  

10,000 Points = $100 Dining Cheque  

300 Points are awarded for registration. So, with each visit, presumably, one is earning $1 towards a dining check. Less than what one might tip a coatcheck person. Also query whether one would want to use a dining check when one is visiting a restaurant with which one is attempting to develop familiarity. Perhaps the check could be utilized while sampling a new restaurant that one doubts has good cuisine. :confused:

Note some interesting restaurants are included in the opentable network. Annisa, Union Pacific, Lespinasse and db bistro moderne are among the restaurants one can book online now. ADNY, Cello and Daniel had "coming soon" annotations next to them on the opentable site.   :wink:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Martini House in Napa County had a $25 per person deposit, with a penalty if cancelled less than 24 or 48 hours (I forget with).  I skipped making the reservation because all they could offer was 9pm.

Well OpenTable had the same reservation available without fee.

beachfan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 months later...

So, Glenn, how has it been going for your place? I saw that you are on the system now.

I have been using OpenTable a lot -- in fact, made all but 1 of my reservations in DC this past weekend that way (Zaytinya was the only non-OT reservation). It was GREAT!! And all the managers I spoke with said they were very pleased with it -- the ease, the quantity of information they received.

The especially good thing was when I found out that I could double-dip: get points on OpenTable AND a refund from Idine. :wink:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The owner said that MY idea of signing up with opentable is the only good idea I've ever had :)). Seriously, it's been fabulous. We've also gotten a lot more hits on our website since we direct people (on our answering system) to make reservations on opentable through a link on our site.

We take advantages of all the promos they offer, like recently offering 1000 points making a reservation on a Tuesday. Tuesdays are normally dismal, but we had a pretty decent crowd that evening.

How much $$ do you end up saving between idine and opentable? I think for the most part the points are a gimmick, but people seem to love it. After all, the usual 100 points offered is only worth $1.

Opentable doesn't come cheap to the restaurant. In addition to the sign up fee and hefty monthly fee, they charge us $1 per reservation (now that adds up!) and a hefty charge on the promos... the 1000 point promo cost us $15/reservation. At this point, it's impossible to say how many reservations were as a result of opentable, and I don't know if we'll ever know. I started having our reservationists ask online customers when confirming reservations, whether they would have eaten at our place w/o opentable. Probably not the best idea as it's a little intrusive. How 'bout you, are there places you've made reservations using opentable that you would not have dined at otherwise? Would you mind if you were asked by the restaurant about using opentable?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How 'bout you, are there places you've made reservations using opentable that you would not have dined at otherwise?  Would you mind if you were asked by the restaurant about using opentable?

We've found OT gives a good view of the restaurant choices in a neighborhood. Plug in a NYC neighborhood, and away you go

In the past, we've made a res at X, then noticed Y as we arrived, and regretted not remembering Y was in the area.

Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...

How much $$ do you end up saving between idine and opentable?  I think for the most part the points are a gimmick, but people seem to love it.   After all, the usual 100 points offered is only worth $1.

... At this point, it's impossible to say how many reservations were as a result of opentable, and I don't know if we'll ever know.  I started having our reservationists ask online customers when confirming reservations, whether they would have eaten at our place w/o opentable.  Probably not the best idea as it's a little intrusive.  How 'bout you, are there places you've made reservations using opentable that you would not have dined at otherwise?  Would you mind if you were asked by the restaurant about using opentable?

I'm glad it's worked out well for you. And your boss :wink:

Actually, it's not so much the money saved -- although that helps, for sure -- but the thrill of the hunt. I'm an avid couponer, too. :blush:

I don't think it's intrusive to ask, if you do it properly. But then, I'm the kind who almost always answers telephone polls, bigmouth that I am. You just have to be sure that you're asking the question YOU want answered. I'll bet most people wouldn't think twice about answering. (Well, eGulleteers might, but I mean the general public :wink: ).

The restaurants I've reserved on OT were ones I wanted to go to anyway. But I see it as a big help in finding an alternate to an unavailable first choice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

I'm a big fan of opentable. I'm wondering what are the economics to the restaurant? The New York list includes a fair number of successful places that probably don't need OpenTable. I'm thinking of such places as: WD-50, Oceo, Hearth, BLT Steak, davidburke & donatella, Public, Bouley, Craft, Chanterelle, Daniel, Artisanal, Gramercy Tavern, Oceana, Ouest, and Veritas, to name a few.

Does anyone know what the restaurants pay? Do the restaurants feel that it pays for itself? Is OpenTable aggressively recruiting the restaurants, or are the restaurants coming to OpenTable?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My understanding is that the backbone of OpenTable, from a restaurant's perspective and from the profitability perspective, is the reservations computer system hardware and software that the company provides to the restaurant. Restaurants pay a fee of a few hundred dollars a month for this system.

The online reservations part of OpenTable is the most visible part to the public, but a lot of the popular restaurants actually release very few or none of their prime time tables to OpenTable. So while I'm a fan of OpenTable, and I use it often, I know that getting a prime time table at a popular place still requires an old-fashioned phone call.

If you go to the OpenTable site there's a huge archive of news articles about the company.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...