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Opentable.com in Vancouver


nwyles
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I am not sure if everybody knows what this is. I won't go into a long story but it is an online reservation system ( It is much more than that but you get the picture. )

I can see which restaurants in town are using and and I would be interested in hearing about your experiences with it.

I am considering using it to book the entire restaurant ( I can always save a few tables for the egulleters ) during Dine Out Vancouver this year. I want to direct most of my reservations to it, removing me ( I am a control freak and during this time, take 90 % of my own reservations, usually cradling the phone while cooking on line. ) from the equation. I will have an email confirmation sent out detailing that the table is booked 1.5 hours after yours so plan accordingly. It can also require a credit card to make the reso, thus cutting out the high instance of no shows. I have not got all of the details on that but I do know that is it an option.

I have planned to only do the Dine Out Menu during this time as to streamline the operation and delivering an excellent experience. Although it sounds silly, having a couple of pastas rung in while you are rocking on 80 Dine Out meals at once can really knock the train off of the tracks.

Thoughts ?

Does it interest you enough to book online, ensuring your time and table when you want it ? Avoid the never ending busy signal, trying to get into your favourite restaurant.

Are you interested enough to lay the money on the table to make sure that everybody shows.

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

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Hi Neil,

Ziv from OpenTable attended one of our recent concierge meetings and had set up accounts for many of our concierge colleagues. A few of us at our hotel have been using it consistently and found it to be very efficient and reliable. I have no hesitation in using this online system. I would use it more often if more restaurants sign up with it. Go for it!

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As my typing disappeared, ( a sign clearly) I will be concise. The opentable.com system is poor. It is nice to see that you have solicited other restaurants experiences. I imagine that not many of them have recieved many bookings from this service.

What are the fees involved? - membership and % of table charges or a choice of one or the other

There is no menu, the page doesnt offer new events(like egullet does). The colour scheme does not inspire booking. Lastly it lacks user inputs.

Essentially choose restaurant

then time and date and number

insert credit card

thanks and goodbye

There is so much more that could be achieved from a online booking site.

My experiences with them have been through opentable in america, it sufficed only becuase I knew exactly what I wanted. This service will eventually become the new form of pamplet at the airport and hotels about which restaurants to frequent. So you must see that as happening and realize that to continue to recieve bookings through it you may have to cough up more later.

To see a decent if not very good demonstration of where this system could go

www.toptable.co.uk

Yes it is london focused, but it is for the UK, France (mainly Paris), Spain(Barcelona and nearby), Benelux and New York as well. This site offers numerous photos if not virtual reality views of the restaurant. A proper description, MENUS, a map of how to get there(very smart). As well as offering critic reviews, and the ability to review the place in question and get something for doing so(points for a free meal). Beyond the simple review you can also write your experience, which is published on the site. You must of course use the service and dine to comment or review. They take the credit card to ensure against no shows.

They also have food and restaurant news. Lastly they have amazing deals for great places. I dined Gordon Ramsey Hospital RD at chefs table for a fraction of the normal cost. These deals can have numerous restrictions like monday nights only etc... to bring people in or for new places to establish customer base.

Depending on what they offer to you reflects your price. Still restaurants are not a internet thing so this has yet to become huge even in london but it is on its way. More importantly a far better option than opentable.com. Then again i dont think they will be in vancouver soon. But something could be done! even just for van city.

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Way back in another lifetime, I had the mis-fortune of working with an Internet start-up that built a similar online reservation service, only for tee-time reservations at golf courses. These yahoos burned through $50 million dollars in a few years, never turned a profit and I'm not even sure they ever actually earned any revenue...but I digress....

There is no question that these things work (and work very well if they are built properly, which I'm assuming Opentable is). The big question is whether or not the benefit to the customer is overwhelming enough to get them to change a well-ingrained habit. Am I correct in assuming that the only benefit to the consumer is avoiding the possibility of a busy signal? I'll be interested in hearing from other diners, but my guess is that few people use it.

Suggestion: set up the Opentable site so I can log in at 5pm on Saturday, type in my criteria (4 people, 8:00pm, $$$ or cheaper), and have it show me what restaurants have a table available.......now that's a service that I would use.

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

www.leecarney.com

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Don't I feel stupid? I just went to Opentable.com and my "suggestion" is exactly what they offer.

Nicely done. It lacks that personal touch of chatting with the hostess on the phone, but when you want to go out at the last minute, what a huge timesaver to not have to call around to see who has a table.

It's now bookmarked and I'd use it for sure, particualrly for DineOut. In fact, I'd say it will probably influence my choice of restaurants at least a few times in the next year.

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

www.leecarney.com

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Hi Neil,

We are in the process of traing our staff on Open Table. I am also good friends with the head hostess at Cin Cin and she said the system is fabulous. I think the answers that have been given by others while helpful, are more " is this a good system for the guest" versus "how can this benefit my business"? There are so many amazing features with the system if used properly. First thing is that you do not want to have guests book through OT as the cost is 6 times higher(to you) than if they booked through your site! It is also completely intergrated with our POS, which is Micros. For a place our size, that is a HUGE help to our girls at guest services. They will know when a table has had a CC authorized and when they have gotten up to leave instead of having to do a constant walk though. It also keeps track of our mailing list, which totals over 5000. I will give you more information this week end as all the managers are being trained (I manage the floor 1-2 times/week). Open table is HUGE in the US if I am correct. The Bay area alone (San Fran) has almost 500 restaurants on line.

Derek

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Sorry I am confused you do want people to book through your own website winegeek ?

If so why are you training people on opentable?

Did you get a chance to look at toptable.co.uk?

Having learned a little more about the system and how it operates by being connected to your pos system, i see it as more beneficial. That said i think major progress could be made, in terms of improving display and information.

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I use open table when I travel. If you drill down through through the restaurants in the U.S. most of the top tables are on this system which leads me to believe that this will become the google of the online reservation systems.

I looked at using it for the hotel but the cost (2004) was prohibitive as there was no rep in Vancouver at the time and I wasn't thrilled about the set up cost which included travel from Toronto. It is, however the best, on line reservation system I have come across and if you are a reservation based restaurant, usually full, and can afford the cost (which is a business expense) then I would go with the system.

I didn't go with open table (yet) as I have a property management system for the hotel and I would need too many open table terminals.

Edited by James Kendal (log)
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I used to use opentable when booking tables on travel. (Particularly for SF Bay area) It generally worked well when the restaurant you wanted was available on the system. But in Vancouver there was a very limited selection so I got into the habit of using the free services from Diners Club: https://dinersclubus.vipdesk.com/ which is a private label from vipdesk.com. It doesn't have the same convenience of seeing actual table availabilities and doesn't provide any backend data for the restaurant other than the reservation itself. But it does work nicely for booking any restaurant at all. You put in your reservation request, and they take care of calling until they get through and confirm the reservation. They then send you an e-mail confirmation. The restaurant doesn't have to be a participant of the system, etc. The other thing they are useful for is tracking down hard to find items, tickets, etc. They generally provide a pseudo-concierge service. I say pseudo because they are nowhere near as well connected as a real concierge. But can help track down various hard to find items by calling around for you. :wink:

Sorry for not giving an answer that is helpful to your particular question, Neil. But I figured I would mention the option as other customers may be interested in using something similar as well. My understanding is that vipdesk.com has private labels with a lot of the various credit card companies (not just Diners).

In terms of your question about giving a credit card to hold a place I have no problems with that at all - particularly during Dine Out. Only seems fair. We give credit cards to hold hotels, car rentals, etc. Why not restaurants? :wink:

Cheers!

Edited by Vancouver (log)
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Sorry I am confused you do want people to book through your own website winegeek ?

If so why are you training people on opentable?

Did you get a chance to look at toptable.co.uk?

Having learned a little more about the system and how it operates by being connected to your pos system, i see it as more beneficial.  That said i think major progress could be made, in terms of improving display and information.

If I am correct, most restaurants are looking at Open Table as a means of replacing the traditional reservation book. It has so many great feutures that a reservation book obviously doesn't have.

Even if no one ever booked on line it would still be a valuable system for a busy, large restaurant. Having said that, it will only be a matter of time before most guests use it to book reservations, as opposed to booking over the phone. It seems to be a trust issue (do they really have my reservation or is it lost somewhere in cyberspace?) My wife was in banking for 20 years and remembers all the people who were so fearful of a debit card :laugh:. While there are some that will always line up in a bank for 10 minutes to cash a cheque or withdrawal $20, alot of us never walk into a teller line anymore. We think the same will happen with reservations.

Check with some of the top restaurants in the US that are using it; they receive up to 80% less calls during a lunch or dinner rush. When you are serving 300-600 guests a night, that is a HUGE savings of time for guest services.

Derek

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I love OpenTable.com, and use it routinely here at home (in Atlanta) and when I travel wherever it's available. Incredibly convenient, and you can even make special requests (mine have always been honored).

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Thoughts ?

Does it interest you enough to book online, ensuring your time and table when you want it ?  Avoid the never ending busy signal, trying to get into your favourite restaurant.

Are you interested enough to lay the money on the table to make sure that everybody shows.

Yes, I would use it, and I have no problem putting my money on the table. If I have a reservation I will show up, whether I've provided a form of security or not.

Cheers,

Anne

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Hi Neil,

We are in the process of traing our staff on Open Table. I am also good friends with the head hostess at Cin Cin and she said the system is fabulous.  I think the answers that have been given by others while helpful, are more " is this a good system for the guest" versus "how can this benefit my business"? There are so many amazing features with the system if used properly.  First thing is that you do not want to have guests book through OT as the cost is 6 times higher(to you) than if they booked through your site! It is also completely intergrated with our POS, which is Micros.  For a place our size, that is a HUGE help to our girls at guest services. They will know when a table has had a CC authorized and when they have gotten up to leave instead of having to do a constant walk though.  It also keeps track of our mailing list, which totals over 5000.  I will give you more information this week end as all the managers are being trained (I manage the floor 1-2 times/week). Open table is HUGE in the US if I am correct. The Bay area alone (San Fran) has almost 500 restaurants on line.

Oh, I am aware of the increased cost to me if they book throught the OT site. I will direct people to my page, where the cost to the restaurant is considerably less.

For those of you who might not know, there is a cost per head to the restaurant. For guests that come to you through OT, the cost is more, but what does that matter. There is a small fee for guests that you ( me ) would be directing to them.

All in all, a real time saver.

Is this the answer to the wailing and gnashing of teeth that the restaurants have during Dine Out ? It certainly is a step in the right direction.

Booking everything online without the daily haggling of trying to fit someone in when there is just not a spot or having to do the run down of the entire two weeks with a guest of all the spaces you have open, only to have tham not show up.

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

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I think that West has a OT system on their website. I used it to try to book a reservation - but it told me the restaurant was full. I called to double check and got a reservation for my requested time.

So - if the system had given me thumbs up - then I would have been done. But if it comes up with a negative - I would call the restaurant anyways.

So - perhaps it would filter out a large proportion of the "standard" no issue resos.

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Neil or anyone, correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't the Dine Out website offer online reservations? I seem to recall some pull-downs etc when searching for resto availabilities. I don't think a credit card is required tho.

About personal (human) service: Similar to Canucklehead's post, during Dine Out last year, we managed to get squeezed into Lumiere one night - the hostess took my number, said she'd see what she could do moving folks around, and called me back to confirm success. I don't think this would be available through Opentable.

I understand that the high-demand resto that is already full does not have to squeeze in more guests (and may not want to), but it was a rather nice gesture on Lumiere's part and we ended up having a great meal at the bar.

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Neil or anyone, correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't the Dine Out website offer online reservations?  I seem to recall some pull-downs etc when searching for resto availabilities.  I don't think a credit card is required tho.

I don't believe that you can book throuh the DOV website,

Derek

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restaurants can make some or all of their tables available through OT. That explains the ability to book even though OT said it was full.

I will save a few tables each seating for people who call, regulars who after nine years, have not learned the phone #, stuff like that.

This is not about taking the personal touch out, but allowing people to book what they want, when they want.

If you want to book a table at dinner before you head to work at 7:00 a.m. , this would be the way to do it. No waiting for returned calls, missed messages etc. You would know that you are in.

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

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I think it's great when you're in a large city trying to book last minute reservations as you can instantly see what's available and not waste time phoning.

I'd use it the same way in Vancouver for last minute Friday or Saturday bookings.

Even if it's an extra expense for the restaurant, would you have had that booking if you weren't on the system?

I think it would pay for itself with the extra bookings, especially with visitors from the US who seem to use it more frequently.

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I would love to have this system available - I find myself doing more and more online and resent having to go into a store - ie Staples when I can do the shopping whenever I want. (If only Cafe Artigiano had on-line coffee service I would never need to leave my office!) The ability to go online to book during DOV makes me positively giddy - imagine how many more dinners I could squeeze in. I usually run out of energy to coordinate the bookings before I fill up the nights available.

It certainly sounds like it would be worth it for the restaurant as well. I am reminded of the play at the Arts Club several years ago that was based on a reservationist for a high-end NYC resto (Daniel's perhaps?) It was hilarious - a one-man show in which he attempted to deal with the hoi-poloi as well as the rest-of-us and he played all the wackos inside and outside the restaurant. I think it was called Fully Committed.

Would the DOV website direct us to the OT booking - it seems that few of us in Vancouver know this is available?

Cheers,

Karole

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