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Jul 9, 2006 06:45 AM

Does using Opentable affect seating location?

Does using opentable versus the phone to book affect where one is seated? Presumably opentable bookers are tech-savvier, younger and a little bit cheaper (at least on the wine). Just a thought.

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  1. I've never seen any difference on where we're seated when using OpenTable as opposed to phoning for reservations.

    And, by the way, while I have computers at home and at work, I'm not what you'd call tech savvy, young (60, come Christmas) and certainly not cheap - on food or on wine. I use OpenTable because I hate being on hold for any length of time and then having to play 20 questions if my desired dining time is booked, and *nearly* all the restaurants in NYC where I want to go are listed. I just wish more in Phoenix were included.

    1. I've had different experiences reagarding this...from acknowledgement of a return visit and great seating to none at all. Opentable also has a VIP classification, whose effect seems variable. I've been wondering several things about the Opentable system: for the person at the restaurant, does it show past statistics....i.e. if/when you ate there last, how much you spent, how many in your party, etc... Or does it have room for comments about a particular reservation?? It would seem like the greatest customer relation tool to have for a restaurant, but I don't know if its actually used in this manner.

      5 Replies
      1. re: streamwise

        with opentable you can go back and see all the dates a person has made reservations with the restaurant, whether they dined there, canceled, or no-showed, how many in the party, and who their server was on each visit. it does not track how much you spent. unless someone, for some strange reason, puts that information manually in the comments section.

        opentable is a great customer relation tool, and unfortunately not a lot of restaurants use it to its full capacity. you can put notes on reservations, whether it indicating a special occassion, a VIP, a high-maintainence person, someone hard of hearing, how they like their cocktails made, allergies or aversions, their favorite dish, whatever. these notes can then be printed out and handed to the servers so they have a heads-up and can service the party in the appropriate manner. notes can also be made about their dining experience for future reference (i.e. kitchen over-cooked their steak and had to send it back; waited a long time for their table last time; LOVED the tuna tartare, maybe send as an amuse bouche next time).

        answering the OP's question... generally i don't think there is an assumption of the type of people who book reservations online, nor will booking through OT alone with affect where you're seated. it will only be affected if you put a note as to where you prefer to be seated. this is assuming the restaurant uses OT the way it was designed to be used.

        1. re: streamwise

          How do you find out whether you're VIP or not? I don't think I'm VIP status. Yet, when I dined in Fort Myers a couple of weeks ago, we saw on our check that we had been given VIP status (I made the reservation via opentable). We got free champagne and free bottled water. We never asked for those things -- they were just available to us as we sat down. We also never dined there before.

            1. re: Lucia

              Just checked my profile. Has no VIP status. So I guess they made a mistake. Lucky us! : )

              1. re: Miss Needle

                I've been a VIP for 2 years and have never gotten any special treatment to show for it, for what it's worth.

        2. I'm an OpenTable junkie, just won't make a reservation any other way. Have used them from the onset, even did some beta testing for them. Saying that, I really don't know if it affects seating or not. What I will say is in all the years of using it we have never once waited more than a couple of minutes to be seated, never "sent to the bar while the table is prepared." We eat out at least once a week so using OpenTable is not a once in awhile thing. I've talked with a number of people at the restaurants and almost all just love the system.

          I'm in the VIP classifcation but don't know that it makes much of a difference.

          2 Replies
          1. re: rtmonty

            I too use OpenTable regularly. It's easy. It identifies a healthy nimber of dining options in one place. You can earn enough points for a dining "cheque". Lots of pluses. However, recently I made reservations at a restaurant in Santana Row, but when we got there we were told we had to wait at least 30 minutes even though we had confirmed reservations through OT. That had never happened before. We couldn't wait and left. A couple of days later, I got a notice from OT telling me I was a no-show. When I explained, I was given the points I would have earned had we eaten at the restaurant by waiting. That was fair. Still, that type of experience shouldn't happen. The experience with OT should be consistently dependable and predictable. Otherwise, why bother?

            1. re: kalamatiani

              The fact that the restaurant was going to make you wait has absolutely nothing to do with OpenTable. In fact, the OpenTable service worked exactly as it was supposed to, you made your reservation, got the confrimation, the restaurant knew you would be there at that time...the problems were the restaurant's alone; they didn't have your table ready on time. Further, the restaurant is the one that has to mark you as a "no-show," not OpenTable. OpenTable took care of you as best they could it seems and quite fairly in my estimation.

          2. I think it might depend on the restaurant. For example, at Hearth in NYC, we always reserve on OpenTable, and we've always been seated, without fail, at one of three tables in the back room. We've never made a special request there, which we have at other restaurants, so it's hard to say whether it's a strict policy or just a default that they'll use if they can. At other restaurants, default seating seems random. I'm also in the VIP classification.

            I do know that OpenTable has a privacy policy, which does not allow the sharing of information (at least via OpenTable) regarding, for example, where else you eat or how often or how much typically you spend. The only thing they can see is your dining history at their own restaurant (or other restaurants in the same group), by which I think they mean when and where you ate. The restaurant apparently can type in manual notes that would pop up were you to reserve again. But I have no doubt that any smart restaurant would track you individually after you eat there once, including what you ate, how much you spent, etc., so long as it's within whatever privacy policies they're required to sign onto with OpenTable, credit card companies, etc.

            1. My experience with OpenTable is uniformly positive. I regard it as a convenience. The minutiae are irrelevant to me. I
              can't say that my table location has been better or worse.
              For places that have view tables, I've always found that if
              I request such a table in the "remarks" area, the request is usually honored, if the request is made sufficiently in advance.