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'hillvalley said:

Reservations are only accepted for parties of 7 or more. Obviously then, no Open Table.

Even if they did take reservations remember that OT is very expensive and costs the restaurant $1 a person even if you don't show.

Dang. I hate waiting for a table. I much, much, much prefer having a reservation. And I *love* Open Table. Too bad it is so expensive for the restaurants....

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I didn't know it costs the restaurants to maintain it... I guess that explains why some of them don't participate.

But it is SO incredibly convenient to be able to see what's available on a given night, without calling every single restaurant and going through, "Well, what about 7? 7:30? What do you have?"

Jael

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But it is SO incredibly convenient to be able to see what's available on a given night, without calling every single restaurant and going through, "Well, what about 7? 7:30? What do you have?"

And I'd bet that the restaurants appreciate not having to have those conversations.

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Dang. I hate waiting for a table. I much, much, much prefer having a reservation.  And I *love* Open Table. Too bad it is so expensive for the restaurants....

Do you think $1 is expensive? I know margins are low in the food service industry but $1 customer aquisition cost seems very reasonable. Compare that to the telecom industry where aquisition costs are $500+ for a new broadband customer.

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Dang. I hate waiting for a table. I much, much, much prefer having a reservation.  And I *love* Open Table. Too bad it is so expensive for the restaurants....

I love OpenTable.com. Once I made a reservation using it and at 4pm realized that I had made the reservation for the wrong (following) night. I went to the site, canceled my reservation and make one for 7:30 that night. When I got to the restaurant I found out it was Prom Night and they were telling folks that there was a hour and a half wait. We went to the desk, gave our name and were told, Yes we have your reservation, follow me. We were shown to our table right then.

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Do you think $1 is expensive?  I know margins are low in the food service industry but $1 customer aquisition cost seems very reasonable.  Compare that to the telecom industry where aquisition costs are $500+ for a new broadband customer.

I believe that the service costs the restaurant $1 a reservation, not $1 each customer. I'll double check today. By far the most attractive thing about OpenTable is the computerized reservation book. It keeps detailed customer histories, such as number of reservations, favorite table, favorite server, favorite wine, etc., and has a special field to notate customer comments, such as "allergic to nuts", or, "PITA" :P . Except for spelling errors, it is practically idiot proof. Gone are the days when a surprise party of 20 shows up on Saturday night saying they were promised a round table at 7:30.

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I love OpenTable. Pros are being able to plan the night, particularly for large tables (see RW discussion about spontaneously expanding parties.) barrel-organ.gifbarrel-organ.gif

It is also a nifty database you can use to enter your comments on patrons. See a very helpful comment from Stretch on notorious nymphos. Any special instructions also go in this field.

One should say that the comment-making capability is available at both ends. This, my friends, is how we can cutesy little letters from customers along the lines of:

"Hi! Looking forward to trying your restaurant during Restaurant Week. It's my wife's birthday and our anniversary and we would appreciate having a nice quiet table by the window." wall.gifwall.gif

This is when you wish there was a way to PM the wife and say, "Dump this jackass and go marry someone who is not a cheapskate and doesn't wait for RW to take you out."

Also, please note that any database is as good as the people who maintain it. This is to say, it is completely up to the restaurant to manage the number of open spots. For instance, it's common practice to block all available spots on a busy spot so that no one can get in using OpenTable, and we have in fact done that for RW routinely. Some people I know deliberately do that to leave room for walk-ins.

So I would say from my perspective, you always get better, more up-to-date information from a live person on the phone mamafia.gif , even if OpenTable says "no room."

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I believe that the service costs the restaurant $1 a reservation, not $1 each customer.
It is $1 each customer, and that's on top of a monthly fee. For some restaurants, it's just not worth the added expense which they could be using elsewhere on a splurg item. That said, our restaurants recently added OpenTable and love it! Definitely makes things more efficient on the restaurant's side as well.
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From the official OpenTable sales kit:

One-Time fees: Set-up and Activation is $1295 per restaurant which includes the computer console, configuration, installation and training.

Monthly fees: $199 for technical support & marketing

Cover fees: It's $1 per seated cover if they go through the OpenTable site...the party must cancel through the system or call the restaurant to cancel them out or else they are considered no shows. The restaurants are not charged cover fees if the reservation cancels prior to the reservation.

If the reservation is made through a link on the restaurant's site, they are charged a $.25 per seated cover. Phone reservations made manually are not charged.

There are tons of other fees associated with the system depending on what you want/need...desktop software for the back office, remote access, card printers, the 1000 pt. club, etc.

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I love opentable. I certainly know from my experience that I tend to go to restaurants much more frequently if they use opentable. This is particularly true for business lunches. I just don't have time to call every restaurant that I know to ask them if they have an availability at an exact time whenever these lunches come up. And, unless there is a particular need for a certain restaraunt - ex., Le Paradou for lunch during restaurant week for impromptu business lunches because everyone else was booked far in advance - it doesn't make sense to have my secretary call because it is hard enough for me to keep up with which restaurants I like at a certain time, nonetheless to ask someone else to figure it out.

I am curious about how much additional business restaurants get from using opentable.

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Sometimes my wife and I just decide to go out either as a spur of the moment that day, or plan on it just a day prior. The service is brilliant because you can very quickly see who has what without calling around as already stated. You can keep making changes, too, and the confirmation is basically instant.

I know we go much more to OT.com-using restaurants than those that do not for the very reason that it is so much easier to do so.

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Perhaps the good folks in the business can tell us what proportion of their covers are reservations, and what proportion of reservations come from Opentable. 

What's it like at Bis, Corduory, Eve, and Notti Bianche, as well as other establishments represented here?

I was told when calling Corduroy recently that they do not hold any tables back from the Opentable system.

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Perhaps the good folks in the business can tell us what proportion of their covers are reservations, and what proportion of reservations come from Opentable. 

What's it like at Bis, Corduory, Eve, and Notti Bianche, as well as other establishments represented here?

We pay about $200 for the service, plus around $500 to $600 a month for covers, plus additional for the "covers through the website" fee.

The trade off of the expense is the easily maintained database with which to send out news, propaganda and the like.

Edited by Johnny Rooks
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We pay about $200 for the service, plus around $500 to $600 a month for covers, plus additional for the "covers through the website" fee.

The trade off of the expense is the easily maintained database with which to send out news, propaganda and the like.

John: that works about to an average of about 20 tables a night you are booking through OT, at a cost of about $20. I would say that OT works pretty well for your restaurant.

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I love OT, too -- I particularly love being able to make reservations at, say, 2 a.m., which is when I'm up and able to be doing stuff like that online. Plus, it's great for finding restaurants in other locations -- for example, Wheaton, Illinois -- where not much foodie attention is necessarily spent.

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I love OT, too -- I particularly love being able to make reservations at, say, 2 a.m., which is when I'm up and able to be doing stuff like that online. Plus, it's great for finding restaurants in other locations -- for example, Wheaton, Illinois -- where not much foodie attention is necessarily spent.

I wholeheartedly agree. For non-OT restaurants, it is annoying to only be able to call them in the afternoon or evening (often when they are busy) and try to make a reservation, when I'd rather make the reservation at 10am and not worry about it all day. OT is great and I will repeat the sentiments of others - I definitely go to more restaurants on OT than those not on the list. (I also do it to rack up the free points for dining dollars :P )

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Another thing I love about opentable.com, I travel a good deal and I can book reservations in SF, Chicago, NY, etc. from my computer at home before I leave and know I have one confirmed. It is much easier than trying to make a reservation when I get to wherever I'm traveling.

I don't know how many times I've booked a table at a restaurant in SF that the others in my group would love to go to but couldn't get in because they called the night before or of when they wanted to go.

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OpenTable was a Godsend recently. I made a reservation at Deep Blue in Wilmington, DE and in the comment section I mentioned that my friend is extremely allergic to certain nuts and to chocolate. Normally this gets mentioned again when ordering, but this time it slipped by. Sure enough the waiter came racing out a few minutes after he took our orders (before the food arrived) to inform us that the comment had been relayed to the kitchen and that the spring rolls had ground walnuts in them. :P

Edited by crackers
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Another thing about OpenTable. I'm set up as an "Administrative Professional" which means I can make reservations for others, and I get the points. The folks here at work often come and ask me to make them reservations and when we have out of towners here for conferences, training, etc. I can make reservations for them.

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OpenTable was a Godsend recently.  I made a reservation at Deep Blue in Wilmington, DE and in the comment section I mentioned that one person in the party is  extremely allergic to certain nuts and to chocolate. 

It totally sucks to be him.

But I digress. 

Normally this gets mentioned again when ordering, but this time it slipped by.  Sure enough the waiter came racing out a few minutes after he took our orders (before the food arrived) to inform us that the comment had been relayed to the kitchen and that the spring rolls had ground walnuts in them.  :P

Talk about a reliable form of evidence to use at trial when you put an allergy in the notes section of an OT reservation and they ignore it to the harm of the patron. It totally eliminates the need for the "but I told the waiter" testimony.

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What's the net effect upon an Open Table restaurant when they receive an Open Table coupon from when people cash in their points?  Is it just as good as cash from the restaurant perspective?  Credit towards their Open Table fees?

ot coupons are essentially the same thing as travelers cheques.

with regard to the earlier question of percentages of reservations made through ot and those made through restaurant websites etc, i am in the process of preparing an ot presentation for my boss. as soon as i have crunched the numbers i will share all of the appropriate ones here.

edited to add: one more bonus of ot...using the manager configuration, one can surf the web (read, keep up with dr.com) during mini-lulls in service.

Edited by starfish
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Has anyone here ever redeemed their points and used an OpenTable dining cheque?

I've done this two or three times. Works pretty well, although the first time I did it in the back room at Palena they had some issues trying to figure out how to deal with it.

After my upcoming trip to Charleston I'll be getting another. It is pretty cool, until you think of it as getting one dollar back for every $50, $100, or $200 dinner you've booked. Better than a kick in the ass though.

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It is pretty cool, until you think of it as getting one dollar back for every $50, $100, or $200 dinner you've booked.  Better than a kick in the ass though.

I think of it as getting a dollar ( or ten dollars if you make a 1000 point reservation) for every reservation you make using OpenTable. I haven't redeemed any of my points yet but when I get to 5000 I think I will.

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Do restaurants not want diners to use these at their establishments?  Does the restaurant get the short end of the stick when we claim these?

I'd be interested in why Nadya said "Oh no" too. I haven't tried to redeem my points yet, and I certainly didn't start using OpenTable to get the points, rather because of how easy it makes it to get reservations without the constant calling around, especially when I'm traveling. But, since I do have a lot of points, at some point I'm going to have to redeem them. I'll probably do it somewhere that I've been to regularly so they won't be too mad at me (I hope)

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I'm also interested in the answer. I guess the other option would be to use them somewhere you're never going again so the resentment doesn't matter...

Why would there be resentment? Opentable most likely gives them a credit on their monthly bill.

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I like OT for the convenience...I always honor my reservations. I don't do it for the dining cheque, but I recently got one (for $10) and I'll use it in the future because...hey, $10 is $10. And of COURSE I will tip on the original total! :lol:

I don't see what the problem would be for restaurants. I'll probably call ahead to make sure they accept them. I figure if restaurants didn't want people using OT and redeeming OT points, they wouldn't be an OT member, right?

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I can't see why there would be resentment.  The cheques work just like cash so it doesn't affect the restaurant at all.  Hopefully although people are getting a "free meal" they still tip accordingly.

I certainly hope there wouldn't be resentment. And I assume that OT is picking up the tab for these cheques right?

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If you use OpenTable.com to make your reservation, you can use the "comment" section to let the restaurant know in advance that you would appreciate the assistance of the sommelier or another appropriate person to help you with your wine selections for your meal.

You would not believe the stuff that people put in those comment fields on OpenTable.

Of course, the restaurant has its own permanent comment fields in the OpenTable database that the customer can't see..... :lol:

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Dish, Mark! Is it a "freebie angle" like "we're celebrating my aunt's cousin's dogwalker's hairstylist's salon opening, so we'll be needing seven free desserts" or prima donna requests like "we only accept patio seating and all red M&Ms must be removed from the bowl!" ?

I heart restaurant gossip.

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Dish, Mark! Is it a "freebie angle" like "we're celebrating my aunt's cousin's dogwalker's hairstylist's salon opening, so we'll be needing seven free desserts" or prima donna requests like "we only accept patio seating and all red M&Ms must be removed from the bowl!" ?

I heart restaurant gossip.

The one that sent me into hysterical gales of laughter:

customer note: "Quiet table, please"

customer's name: Mr. Loud

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In the heat of Restaurant Week, the OpenTable comment on one reservation reads:

"We are coming to enjoy your wonderful restaurant week menu. We are celebrating our second wedding anniversary and would love a nice table in the most quiet area of your restaurant, possibly by the window."

Average cover count on restaurant week nights: 220 heads

Average distance between deuce tables: 20 inches

Number of windows in the dining room: zero

That said, these comments are helpful for notifying us in advance about food allergies or serious food preferences (i.e. all vegetarian, one is allergic to dairy, one cannot stand the taste of cilantro, etc.)

Edited by Nadya
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So I would say from my perspective, you always get better, more up-to-date information from a live person on the phone mamafia.gif , even if OpenTable says "no room."

BUMP

The reverse happened to me...as I was trying to see if I could snag a reservation for next week at 1789. My computer was having issues while navigating OT, so I called the restaurant. They said they only had spots at 8:45, 9:00, etc. (Well they did say they had a 6:15 on Monday!) In the meantime, my computer got through its hiccup, and it showed a reservation at 6:00 on Wednesday. I quickly put in for it, and have received my confirmation. I will definitley call the restaurant to confirm after the holiday, but what are the chances that I may have no reservation at all? I was really looking forward to taking my husband to celebrate an early bday (Restaurant Week is when his real bday falls) and for many reasons it is just not a good time for us to dine out.

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A while back I realized that I had made my reservation on OpenTable for the wrong day (I wanted to go on Saturday and the reservation I made was for Sunday) At 4:00pm I cancelled my Sunday reservation and made a reservation for 6:30 that evening. When we got to the restaurant they were telling people that there would be a 1 and a half hour wait for a table since it was Prom night and the place was packed. I got to the desk and gave my name and was immediately taken to my table. If I had called there would be no table available according to the restaurant.

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If I can make a suggestion...If you are booking a table for a busy evening or special occasion follow up your OT booking with an phone call, sometimes the system gets turned around. Also if you book through OT make sure to cancel your reservation if you are not going to honor it, I often have OT ressies that never walk through the door

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If I can make a suggestion...If you are booking a table for a busy evening or special occasion follow up your OT booking with an phone call, sometimes the system gets turned around.  Also if you book through OT make sure to cancel your reservation if you are not going to honor it, I often have OT ressies that never walk through the door

When your reservationist lists it as a no-show, the system sends them a scoldy type email.

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It is so simple to cancel on OT, I don't see why anyone wouldn't.  It is just good manners.

I agree.

As you can see from my post, I have a very low trust level for anything "electronic" so I always follow-up with a phone call--but that's me! It's good to know that the system does get turned around sometimes. I do know from postings here that restaurants will leave openings for walk-ins and such, so I thought there may be a different schedule for OT and phone reservations.

And on that note, Mr. Squids has had that stomach bug that's going around, so I may have to cancel after all :) He's well enough to be at work, but if I don't get the heads up by midday, then I will have to cancel... (SIGH.)

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