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OpenTable and How it Works

cimui Apr 2, 2009 01:06 PM

I have a few idle moments, today, and thus was idly wondering: How does OpenTable work? OpenTable must take a cut each time a user books / consummates a reservation through the website. Is it a flat rate cut or a percentage of how much a diner spends at the restaurant? (The latter could explain the points system, where you earn more points for dining at an expensive restaurant.) Are restaurants allowed to book all their tables over the phone, if they can, or do they have to reserve a certain number that can only be booked through OpenTable?

Speculation without basis in actual knowledge is welcome. ;)

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  1. l
    LPhila Apr 2, 2009 01:15 PM

    I worked at a restaurant that used OpenTable and to my knowledge, it was a service that we, the restaurant, paid quite a bit for, and that fee was not tied at all to the number of reservations or per person spending. I don't know if it's like this for every restaurant, this was a large, high-end place. Despite this, not having OpenTable was detrimental. We switched at some point, I would say mabye in 2006, and noticed a drop in reservations. I suspect that people went into OpenTable and were unable to find us and then assumed maybe we had closed or did not have availability. I don't work there anymore so I don't know what ultimately ended up happening.

    I do know that the new system had these scary tracking abilities - to tag your reservations to what you ordered on a given evening, what you tipped etc. OpenTable, as far as I know, just tracks the number of visits, who waits on you, if you cancel etc...

    3 Replies
    1. re: LPhila
      cimui Apr 2, 2009 01:29 PM

      Wowie, restaurants track what you tip and order? What has the kind of time to enter in all that info and what does that accomplish? Do they share that info with OpenTable / other restaurants?

      1. re: cimui
        LPhila Apr 3, 2009 01:11 PM

        I think the idea with this system was that the reservations were tied to the POS system, so it was all tracked electronically.

        I never really got what the point of all this was... maybe just your standard "knowledge is power" argument of being able to tailor the service to what the guest liked. To me, it all falls in that slightly creepy category, like when you are thanked by name by the server simply because they read it off your credit card. I'm all for having the bar where I'm a regular know my drink choice of whatever, but for me, the rest goes a little too far.

        1. re: LPhila
          ZenSojourner Oct 28, 2010 04:05 AM

          I find that sort of tracking to have a high creep factor as well. Anybody who has access to the system has access to all that info. I don't want records kept on me like that.

          Back before debit cards and the now ubiquitous credit card option, I used to pay mostly by check. And I used to get obscene phone calls regularly. I did not put those two things together until I was leaving the grocery one day and heard one bag boy say to another - "Yeah, I got her phone number off the check. You want it?"

          Thereafter I started giving a fake phone number. I stopped getting obscene phone calls. Point being, all sorts of people have access to information on you, and some of those people are creepy stalkers. So nowadays I pay cash as often as possible.

    2. JK Grence the Cosmic Jester Apr 2, 2009 01:58 PM

      I use OpenTable at work, so I can explain it pretty well. If my memory serves me correctly, the restaurant pays a flat rate per person, and that rate is higher for an online reservation versus a reservation taken in person or over the phone. The high point reservations are actually for restaurants that want to fill tables at off-peak hours. I would imagine that these reservations are going to cost the restaurant significantly more than a normal reservation, which is why these are generally seen only at higher end restaurants.

      There isn't a certain number of tables that can be booked only through OT. When I make a reservation for someone over the phone, I use an interface quite similar to the one that you use online. The difference is that I can look through the whole book and decide that we can fit in another table at 7:30. So, if you look online and don't see the time slot you want, you can always call the restaurant to see if you can get a table at your desired time.

      The basic things that OT tracks are as LPhila said. We can also take notes about your reservation (birthday, anniversary, wants a booth, needs a high chair, et cetera), and also keep permanent notes on each guest (prefers a certain waiter, always gets Fiji water, VIP, etc.). When you put a comment in online, it automatically shows up in our reservation notes. Along with that information, we also see if it's your first time at the restaurant, and if you have OpenTable VIP status.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester
        cimui Apr 2, 2009 04:00 PM

        >>The high point reservations are actually for restaurants that want to fill tables at off-peak hours.

        maybe i always dine during off hours (we tend to eat late dinners), but it seems like we always get points for dining at certain restaurants. i'll have to pay more attention to that.

      2. c
        cyberroo Apr 2, 2009 02:20 PM

        My recollection from working with OpenTable at my last job, is that we paid .25 per person for a reservation made through one of our own links (our website, email blast, etc). We paid $1/person for a reservation made from opentable.com. Those 1,000 point reservations you see? The charge was something like $7 per person - so a reservation for 4 was $28! On top of that, I believe there was a base monthly charge for equipment rental, etc.

        It's not an inexpensive proposition. but at this point, it's tough to not have OpenTable if you're in that business.

        In our company, OT did not tie into the POS system, so it had no knowledge of what you did after you came in - no data about what you ate or how much you spent was automatically transferred. So a server might make a note that you were a big tipper or big spender, but that data didn't come from the Point of Sale system.

        And a restaurant can "block" any number of tables from online reservations, either to hold them for phone reservations (a la French Laundry), to hold them in reserve for VIPs or walk-ins, or force a seating schedule.

        Incidentally, and I thought this was interesting, data about a user is specific to a restaurant, even within a chain. If you go to one Morton's frequently, and they have lots of notes about your preferences, etc, another Morton's will not have access to that data. I believe they can do a one-time, one-way transfer of information (so if a new Morton's opens, they may get a data transfer from a nearby Morton's), but there isn't a live, combined database between any restaurants.

        10 Replies
        1. re: cyberroo
          cimui Apr 2, 2009 03:57 PM

          >> Those 1,000 point reservations you see? The charge was something like $7 per person - so a reservation for 4 was $28! On top of that, I believe there was a base monthly charge for equipment rental, etc.

          nuckin' futs. can that really be worth it to the restaurant? I, for one, don't pick one reservation over another just because i get brownie points for them, redeemable for monopoly money.

          and phew. glad to hear that all the morton's in the country haven't been told about the bar brawl i started at one location, once...

          1. re: cimui
            mjhals Apr 7, 2009 08:46 AM

            For what it's worth, I have actually been influenced by the 1,000 point offer. I didn't pick the restaurant itself based on the offer, but I did pick the time. I had already selected that restaurant but I selected the time that gave me 1,000 points, so instead of dining at 7, I dined at 6:30 and received 1,000 points.

            And it's not monopoly money, after you accumulate 2,000 points, Opentable sends you a check for $20 (like a traveler's check), that can be used at any restaurant that uses Open Table. So, in my case, after eating twice at a restaurant I selected, at a time influenced by "points", I earned $20 towards my next meal. Not bad. And because of this I always volunteer to make reservations for my dinner club.

            1. re: mjhals
              Bill Hunt Apr 7, 2009 08:30 PM

              Though I am still not sure what to do with my points, I did pick a 1,000 pt. restaurant (all times), in the UK. Made the reservations and got confirmation. Next day, I got a cancellation notice and the statement was, "if you did not cancel, you need to contact the restaurant." I made another OT reservation, and e-mailed the particular restaurant, but they have not yet responded why they cancelled the OT reservation. First time that I have ever encountered this. Maybe they did not want residents of the US dining with them?"

              Glad to know about the points. I have about 4k, but have not seen a check. Did not know to look for one... I use them to save calling all around the globe at the appropriate times to get the reservations that I want.


              1. re: Bill Hunt
                Caitlin McGrath Apr 7, 2009 09:44 PM

                The dining checks don't come to you automatically. You arrange for them through your account at OT.

                Your canceled reservation was most likely an error, I'd assume.

                1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                  mjhals Apr 8, 2009 06:21 AM

                  Yep, I thought it was sent automatically too once you reached 2,000, but you have to go into your account and request it. You also have the option of accumulating more points (ie 5,000 pts will get you a $50.00 check). It just comes in the mail in about 2-3 weeks and it looks a bit like a traveler's check (in fact I think the small print instructs the restaurant to treat it as a traveler's check for cashing purposes).

                  I thought it was a pretty good deal, to get $20 just for making reservations I would be making anyway.

                2. re: Bill Hunt
                  susancinsf Apr 8, 2009 08:59 AM

                  The only problem I have ever had with OT was in London, where the same thing happened to me (reservation being cancelled by the restaurant) twice.

                  1. re: susancinsf
                    Bill Hunt Apr 8, 2009 09:26 PM

                    First, thanks to Caitlin and mjhals for the clarification. Now I know.


                    I did e-mail the restaurant, mainly to confirm that I now had no reservation to honor, as I have made other arrangements. After three business days, they have yet to respond. I might stop by, just to inquire, but wonder what the reason was.

                    Only OT reservation that I've ever missed was one where I booked for the day before - my bad. We showed up the next night and there was no reservation. They thought for a moment, and then realized MY mistake. In a moment, they had a table for us, and had also stored the flowers (delivered the day before) in the 'fridge. I apologized, and praised them for accommodating us, especially as it was totally my error. Really nice of that restaurant, and the gratuities reflected my shame and my joy that they found a table for us, plus held the flowers.

                    Once did that on United Airlines. Was flying between PHX and DEN about every three days for a month. Just grabbed the wrong date. UAL was really cool, and swapped my ticket for the next night, for that one - no charge! Heck, I'd have been happy to get the seat and pay US$100 for my stupidity.


            2. re: cyberroo
              rittels Jul 9, 2010 10:39 AM


              How does opentable get all restaurants that participate on the same software?


              1. re: rittels
                hotoynoodle Jul 10, 2010 11:25 AM

                you buy it from opentable.

                1. re: rittels
                  JK Grence the Cosmic Jester Jul 10, 2010 02:26 PM

                  You get the whole reservation computer from OpenTable. If that computer gets turned off, guests can't reserve a table at your restaurant.

              2. c
                cimui Apr 2, 2009 03:47 PM

                I'm convinced that Chowhounds know everything. Y'all are so smart. =)

                Wonder whether OpenTable has helped drive up costs at restaurants. I'm sure the actual amounts paid / reservation is something restaurants have to negotiate with OpenTable on an individual basis, but it really does sound like it can get expensive. Maybe those of us who love particular mom & pop operations should make it a policy to make reservations for them over the telephone, even if it's possible to make them on OT.

                Does the restaurant pay anything for reservations that aren't consummated?

                6 Replies
                1. re: cimui
                  Caitlin McGrath Apr 2, 2009 04:06 PM

                  To play devil's advocate, it's also possible that restaurants gain by using OT (especially if they have websites with sample menus linked to OT), because people discover new places while browsing OT, and patronize them. If so, increases in business could offset the costs of using it.

                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                    cimui Apr 2, 2009 04:12 PM

                    Yes, I'm sure in some instances that's true, Caitlin! So best case scenario for a small time operation would be for it to remain listed on OT to draw in newcomers and have its loyal, repeat customers reserve over the telephone... or perhaps even better, not reserve at all and walk in.

                    1. re: cimui
                      Caitlin McGrath Apr 2, 2009 04:29 PM

                      If it's a restaurant you already patronize, you could always ask if they have prefer telephone vs. OT reservations or no reservation.

                  2. re: cimui
                    cyberroo Apr 3, 2009 09:01 AM

                    My numbers came from a large multi-concept restaurant group in LA, so if anything, they're on the low side, but I'm under the impression that those figures are pretty standardized. Recently, I have found myself wondering if the amounts have changed or if another tier has been added, as I've seen a lot of much smaller restaurants signing up.

                    No charge for reservations if guest is a no-show.

                    And overall, the benefits of OT outweigh the costs - that's why it's so popular

                    1. re: cyberroo
                      hotoynoodle Apr 3, 2009 12:14 PM

                      i have worked with this program for many years.

                      contrary to the above poster, my understanding is the charge is per reservation, not based on the number of people in your party. there is also no higher charge to the restaurant for the time of your reservation. the higher points to members for dining off-peak are simply incentives to fill tables likely to go empty. if you cancel, the restaurant pays a reduced rate to opentable. if you no-show, the software tracks you and punishes you after doing it twice, and the restaurant pays nothing.

                      info is not shared between restaurants and if you are required to post a cc# for a reservation guarantee, that info disappears into the ether as soon as you check in. certain high-end restaurants do have software systems that can share vip info between stores, but it's not through opentable.

                      a restaurant can choose how many tables to make available through the system, the maximum size party that can book (usually less than 6), and can also reconfigure that at any time. even same day.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle
                        Bill Hunt Apr 6, 2009 09:28 PM

                        Thank you for the report. Unfortunately, for most of us, OT is but a tiny piece in the dining puzzle. Most of us, who use it, do not know much, beyond just making reservations. That is all that I have used it for.



                  3. Bill Hunt Apr 6, 2009 09:23 PM

                    As to how and why, I cannot comment. On other OT threads, several restauranteurs have chimed in, with it's software that we buy, and then use. I do not know if OT exacts any charge for reservations.

                    From a consumer's standpoint, it's a good thing. I use it quite often and with only one little problem. I fill in the text box, and it alerts the restaurant to things like my wife's problem with bi-valves. Also, I know that some restaurants keep tabs (to what degree, I do not know) on our visits. Is this through OT? I do not know. Recently, we dined at a French restaurant in Washington DC. I'd dined there solo several times over the years, as my wife was in meetings. She'd only been able to join me on two occasions during the years. When we returned, they commented on my numerous visits, and also welcomed my wife on her third. Now, had I been doing shady stuff, this could have been trouble. As it was, my wife appreciated the acknowledgment that this was her third visit. They also knew that we were likely to do the chef's tasting menu, and that my wife could not tolerate bi-valves. That was a nice touch. Now, had I been dining there with someone else, it could have gotten "stickey," but we appreciated it. I attribute this to both OT and to the restaurant's files on patrons, even if they live 2000 miles away!


                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Bill Hunt
                      hotoynoodle Apr 7, 2009 08:51 AM

                      there is a section for "notes" where the restaurant can maintain info about you. well-managed places, like the one you mention, use this function to really personalize dining experiences.

                      it's a great tool for business and patrons.

                      supposedly gangsters always had a rule of not taking wives and girlfriends to the same restaurants. avoiding the stickiness you mention! lol.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle
                        Bill Hunt Apr 7, 2009 09:25 PM

                        Yes, I am glad that I am "true." Some years back, I was attending a vintner's dinner with Brian Del Bondio, of Markham. My wife could not attend, so I took a "date," a mutual friend, and Brian walked up and whispered, "where is your lovely wife?" I then introduced him to my "date." Next vintner's dinner with him, I had my wife in tow. Now, he's in Napa, and we're in Phoenix, and he picked up on it in a heartbeat. One must be very careful, and respect their spouse... or pay the consequences! Honestly, if I wished to "run around" on my wife, I'd better do it in Indonesia, or similar. I certainly would be in trouble in the US, all of the UK and most of Europe. I can't even go to the island of Lana`i in Hawai`i, and not have her run into people that know her.

                        No, I'd expect most OT restaurants to have her on their list, even though she'd never made a single reservation. I guess the the gangstes had it pegged.


                    2. e
                      Eujeanie Jan 26, 2010 07:29 AM

                      Bumping up this old thread to ask another question...does the restaurant eat the value of the $20 certificate I receive and want to redeem? Or do they get reimbursed by OT for that? Also, a restaurant that uses OT for reservations says they will NOT accept that $20 certificate - can they do that?

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: Eujeanie
                        mjhals Jan 26, 2010 07:48 AM

                        I can just speak from my experience as an Opentable member who has used several checks when dining out. You actually receive what looks like a traveler's check from Opentable, and present it to the restaurant like you would a coupon (although there are no limitations printed on the check regarding if it can be used for alcohol, tax, tip, etc., so I assume it can be used for everything). It seems though, that the restaurant treats it as a check and redeems it. There are even instructions on the check telling the recipient to treat it as a traveler's check. So, just from that, I assume they don't eat the value, although it probably takes a few more steps to get redeemed.

                        And I seem to recall other threads that have discussed the fact that an Opentable restaurant HAS to accept the check (might be in their User Agreement). I think an opentable rep even came on chowhound on one thread to explain that AND stepped in to help out (maybe called the restaurant?, fuzzy memory on that and I haven't searched for the thread).

                        My question, is if they are required to accept the check if they are an Opentable restaurant and participate in the system, but you didn't happen to use Opentable on the night you wish to redeem the coupon. I've never tested that, and have only used the check when I've actually made that reservation through OT. I've never had a problem at all using one (and I think I've used about three w/ one in my wallet now).

                        1. re: mjhals
                          hotoynoodle Jan 26, 2010 08:56 AM

                          the dollar points certificates come from open table, not the restaurants.

                          it is most definitely against the agreement to refuse to accept the certificate, nor does that night's rez need to be made through the system. you may call or email opentable and report the place that told you that. before doing so, however, you may want to call back and ask for a manager. it could have been somebody clueless answering the phone. if the reply is the same, definitely contact opentable.

                        2. re: Eujeanie
                          dump123456789 Jan 26, 2010 01:01 PM

                          Piggybacking on your thread:

                          Has anyone used more than 1 certificate at a time ? I have built up a lot of points over the last few years, and I want to blow them all at once at a rather pricey place. However, because OpenTable certificates are only in certain denominations, I'll need to get more than 1 certificate. Anyone have any experiences with using more than 1, and did it cause any problems ?

                          1. re: dump123456789
                            Eujeanie Jan 26, 2010 01:27 PM

                            You're right, I did talk to a hostess who did sound clueless, she said "we only take our own gift certificates". But I'll use it somewhere else before then anyway just to be sure.

                            1. re: dump123456789
                              susancinsf Jan 31, 2010 07:42 AM

                              yes, I just used two at once at a rather pricey spot, a month or so ago. It was absolutely no problem.

                              1. re: susancinsf
                                dump123456789 Jan 31, 2010 10:43 AM

                                Thanks. Time to place my order then. I'm thinking either La Folie or Cyrus.

                                1. re: dump123456789
                                  dump123456789 Jun 7, 2010 01:09 AM

                                  Following up on my own post:

                                  I cashed out $250 in OpenTable checks a couple weeks ago at La Folie. I waited until I had VIP status, which resulted in us getting a larger table than any other party of two in the room. We splurged on the Osetra Caviar, and the largest menu. Thank you, OpenTable and La Folie.

                                  By the way, VIP status has been hit-or-miss. Since getting the status for the first time this year, 2 places have sat us at small, poorly located tables. At 1 place, we were given a standard 2-top, but the table next to us was kept empty until all other tables in the room had been filled. La Folie was already mentioned above. And at the 5th restaurant, we probably would have received one of their best window tables, if an earlier party didn't spend an extra 30-40 minutes hanging out.

                                  1. re: dump123456789
                                    Bill Hunt Jun 7, 2010 09:06 PM

                                    Interesting comment about the table size. I've been VIP for some years, and have oh so many "points," but we always get a regular two-top anywhere. As we are big winos, those get over-filled constantly, and we have to use every flat surface available. Now, most restaurants, that know us, will seat us at a four-top, as they know we'll likely have 3 - 6 glass of wine going. I have never gotten a bigger table though Open Table. Maybe I need to tell 'em that we are serious winos?

                                    Interesting, and thank you for commenting,


                                    1. re: Bill Hunt
                                      L2k Jun 8, 2010 07:08 AM

                                      It would seem from Open Table's site, that I am also a VIP (took some searching to find the qualifications!). I would never have known that status existed were it not for this thread, for I surely have never seen anything remotely resembling "special service" due to my status.

                                      1. re: L2k
                                        dump123456789 Jun 8, 2010 11:17 AM

                                        I forgot about two places I've gone since I got VIP. At one, they tried to seat us at the tiniest 2-top they had. I asked for a much larger booth instead. As we found out later, it was in a section that was supposed to remain closed until a certain time, but they let us have it anyway. At the other, they gave us a 4-top while all the other couples had 2-tops.

                                        If you have VIP, you should definitely put in the request for the larger table, if you know you're going to need the space anyway.

                          2. rockandroller1 Jan 26, 2010 01:28 PM

                            "the restaurant pays a flat rate per person, and that rate is higher for an online reservation versus a reservation taken in person or over the phone."

                            This makes no sense to me. Open Table is only for online reservations, right? it's not like you call up to make an OT reservation.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: rockandroller1
                              Eujeanie Jan 26, 2010 01:35 PM

                              I just called the restaurant back, spoke to a manager, he said of course they DO take them and said he would update both his hostesses.

                              1. re: rockandroller1
                                JK Grence the Cosmic Jester Jan 26, 2010 06:04 PM

                                Actually, if you call a restaurant that uses OT, your reservation is put into the OT system at the restaurant. That's how OT makes money- they sell online reservation computer systems. OT justifies the extra charge for reservations made online because a guest might not have made the reservation at our restaurant in the first place if we didn't use OpenTable.

                              2. Robert Lauriston Jul 31, 2010 09:48 AM

                                I just opened a restaurant and learned some things I never knew about Opentable even though I've been a fairly heavy user for years.

                                Feedback: I never responded to those "How was ...?" emails because I didn't see any user feedback on opentable.com. In fact any feedback is sent directly to the restaurant and presented in a very easy to read fashion on the otrestaurant.com site. If you give your email address, the managers can look up your reservation and talk with your server about any issues. Also, user ratings are eventually aggregated and displayed in search results.

                                Architecture: each restaurant has its own server, a turnkey box provided by OT, normally located at the host station. If we unplug, turn off, or reboot that machine, or its network connection is lost due to a disconnected cable, short, or DSL outage, or the power goes out, opentable.com shows us as offline. We can run the OpenTable client application on other computers and do everything we can do at the server, but we have to buy a license for each one.

                                Telephone reservations: for years I've been telling people to phone if the time they want isn't available online, but having seen how it works on the back end, that goes triple.

                                Return on investment: our POS system, Aloha, is adding an OT-like reservation tool, and we might switch to it, but we'll still keep OT. The promotional value of being in their search engine is well worth what they charge.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                  Bill Hunt Aug 2, 2010 08:51 PM

                                  "Telephone reservations: for years I've been telling people to phone if the time they want isn't available online, but having seen how it works on the back end, that goes triple."

                                  That has been my biggest rub with OT. We usually have to call, as the Web site does not allow most of the times, even weeks in advance. When we encounter such, we call, and tables are available in every case. When mentioning OT and the date/time not being available, the restauranteur is perplexed. We've learned to just call. This could be a situation where only X tables are listed on OT, the date is too far in advance, or something else.

                                  Thank you for sharing an "insider's view," as I have only seen OT from the point of a user.

                                  I like it, as I can often book an entire trip, without having to bother the FOH staff with calls, especially if we are in a totally different time zone. I can do a week's worth of reservations in about 5 mins., provided that all works well, and then have the e-mail confirmations to do my itinerary for my travels.



                                  BTW - where are you located? We travel the globe and dining with a fellow CH would always be a plus.

                                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                                    susancinsf Aug 2, 2010 09:19 PM

                                    ahh, Hunt, time to come visit the heart of the left coast....


                                    1. re: susancinsf
                                      Bill Hunt Aug 3, 2010 09:37 PM

                                      Neat! We are often in SF, though seldom spend as much culinary time across the Bay, as I would like. Same for down south a bit, at Los Gatos. Seems that we are always localized in our meetings, so seek out restaurants within walking distance (that is up to about 4 miles for us) from our hotels.

                                      I will definitely save this, and try to get over on our next trip. As SFO has so many problems, we have looked into flying into OAK, and then either getting a car, or taking the BART to SF for the meetings. Maybe we can return, stay a night, or two, and dine properly?

                                      Thank you,


                                  2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                    Robert Lauriston Sep 1, 2010 11:14 AM

                                    One big plus about OpenTable that I did not expect: it's a great source of feedback. To date, we've gotten 83 feedback forms from OT vs. 21 reviews on Yelp and roughly the same number of posts on Chowhound.

                                    Every OT feedback form includes ratings from 1 to 5 for food, ambiance, service, and overall, plus 1 to 3 for noise (quiet, moderate, or loud). Optionally the guest can include comments, provide their email for feedback, and/or check off categories such as Vibrant Bar Scene, Fit for Foodies, Good for Groups, Late-Night Find, Neighborhood Gem, Notable Wine List, Romantic, Special Occasion, and Hot Spot.

                                    We can get reports aggregating the ratings for the past week, four weeks, or 60 days, thus making it easy to see if any changes seem to be affecting guests' opinions. We can also export the data if we want to crunch the numbers any other way.

                                    This is a very useful tool and definitely helps justify the cost of OT (25 cents per res made through our Web site, $1 per through theirs).

                                  3. s
                                    sparkareno Aug 4, 2010 11:20 AM

                                    So when you have to call do you still get OT 'credit'?

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: sparkareno
                                      Robert Lauriston Aug 4, 2010 11:33 AM

                                      If you make a reservation through OT and then call the restaurant to change it, I believe you get your OT points.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                        Bob Martinez Aug 5, 2010 11:42 AM

                                        I can confirm that. Just this past weekend I called to change an OT reservation from 2 to 4 people and I still got the points.

                                      2. re: sparkareno
                                        JK Grence the Cosmic Jester Aug 4, 2010 09:05 PM

                                        I'm pretty sure as long as the original reservation is made through OT that you'll get your points. My reasoning: It costs the restaurant more (I believe $1 per person) for a reservation made via opentable.com than when you make your reservation over the phone (I believe around 25¢ per person. OT's rationale for charging more for online reservations is that if you don't offer reservations online, then the guests might prefer to go to a restaurant that does offer online reservations.

                                        1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester
                                          Robert Lauriston Aug 5, 2010 11:41 AM

                                          OT charges more for reservations made through their search engine than through a link on a restaurant's Web site. That makes sense to me since if it weren't for their search engine we might not get those customers.

                                          I'm not sure what the charge is for reservations we take by phone. If it's not free that would give us more incentive to switch to Aloha for our primary reservation system once that's available.

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                            Robert Lauriston Aug 16, 2010 06:17 PM

                                            I checked the invoice and there was no per-reservation charge for the ones we took by phone. Apparently that's covered by the monthly fee.

                                      3. b
                                        bbaixois Oct 27, 2010 04:04 PM

                                        To those who are familiar with the system, I am really wondering how on thousands and thousands of restaurants, OT can for instance monitor if the client has / has not honored its booking ?

                                        Because it would be just easy for the restaurant to say Client XYZ did a no show, hence not pay the fee. Anyone knows how they do manage that?

                                        Also, still not clear what is the fee structure / revenue generation scheme ? Anyone care to elaborate ?

                                        Also how do they prevent the restaurant to just bypass OT services once the customer has been there
                                        ie telling them to book by phone, handing over their card etc, dont they lose a LOT of diners after their first visit ?

                                        Just very curious about this business model.

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: bbaixois
                                          coookie Oct 27, 2010 04:11 PM

                                          presumably, client XYZ would notice the no-show in their opentable account, and complain to either opentable or the restaurant, thereby exposing the fraud.

                                          1. re: bbaixois
                                            Robert Lauriston Oct 27, 2010 04:56 PM

                                            When you show up at a restaurant where you made an OT reservation, they mark you as checked in on the OT touchscreen terminal. If you don't cancel and don't show up, the system flags you as a no-show. If the restaurant forgets to check someone in, the guest gets a no-show email from OT, and probably complain to OT and/or the restaurant.

                                            Lots of discussion of the business model in this current topic:


                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                              mjhals Oct 27, 2010 05:16 PM

                                              Yep, that's exactly what happened to me- only once in my history of using OT (and I use it A LOT). I actually didn't receive the email update that OT is supposed to send when you're a no-show, but I noted in my "profile" in OT that I'd received 0 pts for a reservation I should have gotten 100 for (and we definitely showed up for the reservation, and were, in fact, early). So I emailed OT and explained we were there, and offered the dinner total as proof (from my cc receipt). OT followed-up and fixed it with the restaurant (like Mr. Lauriston explained- the hostess had just forgotten to check us in), and explained that I should have received a no-show email, but I caught it before the email was sent.

                                              Anyway, the reason why I followed-up with OT was not because of the points, but because I suspect all this history is stored in OT and probably shared between restaurants somehow in my user-history. I have a huge pet-peeve about either no-showing for a reservation or even being slightly late for one, so I don't want my history to inaccurately reflect that I've ever been a no-show.

                                              1. re: mjhals
                                                Robert Lauriston Oct 27, 2010 05:37 PM

                                                The history is not shared among restaurants. OT's policy is to cancel accounts after four no-shows in a 12-month period.

                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                  jfood Oct 28, 2010 05:07 AM

                                                  and OT sends you an email to confirm that there was an actual no-show versus a mistake by the restaurant. i received an email for a dinner that i enjoyed. i sent an email back to OT and they removed the ding and gave me credit for the points.

                                                  RL - do you know why some restaurants do not get points? just curious.

                                                  1. re: jfood
                                                    Robert Lauriston Oct 28, 2010 11:26 AM

                                                    There's discussion of the points in that other topic I linked to above.

                                                2. re: mjhals
                                                  bbaixois Oct 28, 2010 03:49 PM

                                                  Thanks for the reply guys !

                                            2. Robert Lauriston Oct 29, 2010 11:53 AM

                                              One thing that surprised me about OpenTable was that it was not smart enough to combine, for example, two adjacent two-tops into a four-top, which is one reason that when OT shows no availability you can often get a reservation if you phone the restaurant.

                                              They just added that feature in their new release, version 10.

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