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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.

              1. I've never noticed any kind of relation to where we've been seated. I've used Open Table in L.A. (where I live), New York, Las Vegas, and I have an upcoming booking in San Francisco (Aziza - very excited, looks great). I have noticed that the restaurants actually read the comments, because when I'm using it for cities which are not my home city, I input my cell phone and note for them to use that to confirm the reservation, and it invariably works.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Debbie W

                  I booked Aziza through OT, and we got seated next to the kitchen! That had never happened to me before or since w/ OT, although I don't think there's any correlation. (BTW: Aziza has a couple of wonderful back rooms you should check out.)

                2. I use OpenTable all the time and have never had any problem getting seated where I requested. I love it. Once I realized I had made the reservation for the wrong day, so I went on OpenTable at noon on Saturday, cancelled the reservation I had for Sunday and made a new one for about 6 hours later that Saturady. No problem. when we got to the restaurant we were shown directly and immediately to our table. But if we had just walked in there would have been an hour and a half wait since it was Prom Night at two of the local high schools.

                  1. I think your assumption about who uses Open Table are a bit dated. Computers have been common place in the workplace for almost 20 years, and the Internet for 10. Most people who have worked any kind of desk job in the last decade are computer literate. In addition, people in some information heavy fields (law, academia, etc.) have been using computers longer than that. I'm 47 and I bought my first home computer over 20 years ago. My Mom is 72 and wrote her first book over 20 years ago on a TRS-80 my father (a systems analyst since 1962, now 76) programmed for her. My boss is 72 and has been using computers on the job for 20+ years. Etc. And then there are older people who just got into computers because they're interested in them and with all the things you can do with them.

                    I think Open Table's main demographic is people who are fairly restaurant savvy, which I would think would skew older and more likely to spend money than younger and poorer. After all, if you hardly ever eat out, you're unlikely to be hip to the best way to make a restaurant reservation.

                    I love Open Table -- it saves a lot of time and aggravation -- and I've never noticed I was treated differently. In fact, it's one of the easiest ways to make sure that any special requests you have (quiet table, birthday or anniversary) get noted.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      agree on your thoughts about computer users. I am over 50, and love the convenience of OT, and thus use it whenever it is an option...and my take on it is that it helps get better tables, because I always specify in the comments section what type of table I'd like (generally a quiet, well-spaced one), and I've also used it to request a specific table at places I know...with excellent results...(including at Aziza, btw...)

                    2. This is not about seating, but time of reservation. A friend and I were going to Aureole in NY on a Monday Night. She was using OT, and the only times offered were quite early (before 6:30) or quite late (after 9). She made the later reservation. I then called to see if they had anything open up, and turned out they were wide open. I made a reservation for 7:30 and then she cancelled the one on OT. It seems that at lease some restaurants are releasing only less desirable time to OT.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: yelly

                        Yes, I have noticed this too. I will always check with OT, but if my preferred time is not available, I will call the restaurant directly and usually be able to get my time...

                        1. re: PamelaD

                          I don't think this is an OT thing, it's something that's done by the restaurant itself. I know in SF there are one or two places that are on OT where you can never get a 6-8 or so reservation.

                          1. re: rtmonty

                            True, I just had that experience at Zuni but I was aware that it might happen due to someone mentioning it in a thread on the SF board. Only early and late times were offered. This was today, for a reservation one month from today, and today is the earliest day to make the reservation. I called the restaurant and had my pick of times. Yes, I won't get my 100 points, oh well. Also had this happen at Fleur de Lys in Las Vegas and I think Delmonico as well.

                        2. re: yelly

                          That's very, very common and is the restaurant's doing, not Open Table's.