by Marylise Fabro
Technologies for the restaurant industry are evolving quickly while, at the same time, customer behaviors are changing, adapting, and benefiting from the convenience that comes with them. Let’s look more closely at how this continuous evolution is impacting the restaurant reservation landscape.
1. The Beginning
Taking a moment to look at the past allows us to better understand the present. Exactly 24 years ago, when the Internet was still in its infancy, OpenTable was launched in San Francisco to help guests find restaurants around them, wherever they were. The service was very much needed at a time when Google was still an unsophisticated search engine and few options were available for consumers to find restaurants.
2. The Evolution of Online Reservations
As OpenTable turned into the reference website for restaurant reservations, it became the place to be for all restaurants. Since they were the sole player in that field, OpenTable was able to grow and charge high fees for their services.
3. The Revolution
We could all see it coming, but the online reservation revolution is currently underway. As Google launched “Reserve with Google” and restaurants discovered the power of social media, guests are relying less on OpenTable to find restaurants near them and to quickly make dining reservations. What does that mean for the industry?
4. New Ways to Find Restaurants
With 90% of guests researching a restaurant before visiting it, chances are that a customer went to Google or to your website before making their reservation. Offering the ability to make a reservation from Google is critical, while being listed on OpenTable is not so important anymore. And with 88% of restaurant-goers relying on friends and family for recommendations, the time when OpenTable was the go-to place to find a restaurant is over.
5. The Power of Social Media
When it comes to attracting visitors to your dining establishment, ads on Facebook or Instagram will be far more effective than being part of a restaurant network like Resy or OpenTable. So instead of paying high fees to those antiquated networks, you can save money by selecting a restaurant reservation system with a flat monthly fee, such as Hostme, and use those savings to boost your social media presence.
6. OpenTable’s Loyalty Program Is Flawed
OpenTable’s loyalty program encourages loyalty to OpenTable, not to you and your restaurant. Guests are rewarded for making reservations via OpenTable, steering them away from making those reservations directly on your website. You are paying high cover fees for reservations that guests intended to make for your place anyway just to have OpenTable promote your competitors to your customers.
The proof is in the pudding: restaurants that switch from OpenTable to Hostme don’t experience a drop in reservations. So imagine what would happen if, instead of paying high fees to OpenTable for online reservation services, you could use that money to heighten your guest experience, advertise more, and still save money at the end of the day. Why not start today by scheduling a free demo with one of our product specialists?