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Preferred method of making restaurant reservations?

What's your preferred way of making reservations?

- Open Table

- Alternative reservation sites like SeatMe, Facebook, CityEats, etc.

- Restaurant website

- Phone

- Concierge service

- Something else?

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  1. Call me old fashion but I prefer a phone call.

    1 Reply
    1. Open Table
      Restaurant Website

      1. Phone, especially if it is for that evening.
        Open Table if I'm making reservations well in advance.

        I figure whoever is answering the phone has better/more urgent things to do than worry about a reservation 3 days out. If I want to make any kind of special arrangements then I definitely want to speak to a person on the phone.

        1. I like Open Table but stopped using it for local places when I found out that the restaurants have to pay - per person - for the res. I guess it makes sense and I'm sure the owners think it's money well spent but I just figure why take a few bucks away from them (in the case of more than one diner).

          So phone.

          11 Replies
          1. re: c oliver

            Any idea how much they charge? Do they mention this on their website?

            I can't expect them to provide this service for free, so I wonder what other methods of payment you would expect them to get. I don't remember seeing advertisements on their webpage either.

            1. re: KaimukiMan

              I seem to recall reading that it was a dollar per person. So a res for a party of four would be $4. I will use them occasionally if it's for an out of town trip (don't know why THAT makes a diff) but for local I just don't. I figure in a still struggling economy a few dollars here and there matter.

              1. re: c oliver

                Restaurants are only charged for Opentable (OT) reservations if the reservation initiates on the OT website. Reservations that are made on OT from the restaurant's personal site, or over the phone, are free. This is why you get points for making the reservation through the main site, but not through the restaurant's webpage OT link.

                1. re: plaidbowtie

                  I didn't know that! I always do it through their websites. I really appreciate that info.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Here's kathryn's post from another thread:

                    It's a fixed fee per patron in addition to a monthly subscription fee (plus optional add ons).

                    "Restaurants pay a $199 monthly subscription fee, which includes our software, unlimited upgrades, the touch-screen computer system, and customer support. In addition, there’s a one-time installation fee, which covers on-site installation and training and custom configuration of the system.

                    For online reservations, we charge a pay-for-performance fee of $1.00 per seated diner booked on OpenTable.com or $0.25 per seated diner booked via the restaurant’s website.f"

                    1. re: boredough

                      The subscription charge and per diner charge seems very reasonable when you consider the cost of having an employee do this.
                      If there is no dedicated reservation person a the restaurant then answering the phone and taking the reservation properly would be a distraction from the other cooking, cleaning, prepping duties.
                      Not nearly as reliable as Open Table etc..

                      1. re: Motosport

                        I think it's got to help a lot. But nonetheless I think most places have someone taking res over the phone and walkins, don't you?

                        1. re: c oliver

                          I think you are right that during dinner service (or lunch or whatever) they do have someone doing that, but that person undoubtedly has other tasks, like seating people. I know from personal experience it can be frustrating to wait to be seated while the host/captain/maitre'd' is going over available times and seating options with someone over the phone who is unable to make up their mind. At other times whoever answers the phone is probably rushing around trying to set up for the next meal service or rushing around cleaning up from the last service.

                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                            That could be an issue for some places, but many restaurants have more than one person at the host stand during busy times or at least some manager floating around that can pick up the slack as need be. Really successful restaurants would have multiple people working full time throughout the day answering the phone and taking reservations and they wouldn't be at the host stand. (I used to hang out with one such person.) I think the most successful restaurant in San Francisco used to have four of them, but I don't know how OpenTable has affected that number.

                            1. re: nocharge

                              I've made on-line reservations at 2AM when I'm quite sure no one is in the restaurant. I actually make a conscience effort not to call a restaurant during service hours whenever possible.

                              1. re: bobbert

                                Well, being able to make reservations at 2am is certainly one of the good things about OpenTable and other on-line reservation services.

                                But the amount of strain you would impose on a restaurant by making a phone reservation will certainly vary from restaurant to restaurant. I usually use OpenTable and rarely or never make phone reservations. However, I wouldn't be shy about making one if there was a reason. Taking phone reservations has been part of the restaurant culture forever and I wouldn't trust a place that couldn't deal with it just because the host stand is busy. (Of course, there are restaurants that don't take phone reservations for other reasons, like Ko.)

          2. Assuming we're talking about a "normal" dinner (meaning no special requests and not a large group) the easiest for me is whichever online system the restaurant uses, though I will call if OpenTable doesn't show availability and try my luck.

            I've asked a concierge (or other hotel employee) to do it in countries where I am not proficient in the local language.

            1. Open Table is my first choice, because I frequently want to make a reservation at times when a restaurant is either very busy (may not be able to hear me over the din, may not have the patience to deal properly with the request), or just not answering the phone (too early or too late in their day). I'd rather book a restaurant at, say, 11pm, than have to wait until the following day to make a phone call (& possibly forget) - if I'm wavering between restaurant choices for a particular evening. I also like getting an automated reservation reminder a day or so in advance.

              1. I like Open Table. It's quick, easy and reliable.
                If they do not show an open time slot I'll call the restaurant and will often get a table.

                1. Open Table / Urbanspoon / Email.... basically anything that doesn't require me picking up the phone.

                  1. Savored, where possible.

                    1. Anything online is good by me.

                        1. Open table.
                          I typically only make reservations when I travel. Open table makes that very easy.

                          1. Open Table if I can. If it's for that night, I will sometimes call. If I have no luck getting a reservation by calling and I'm traveling, I've had luck by having the concierge at the hotel I'm staying at call right after me.

                            1. Whatever online system is linked to the restaurant's web site, which means mostly Open Table. If no online systen is available, the phone of course. I'm one of those people who lauds the age of not having to speak to an actual person if I don't have to. I also do most shopping online if I can. Call me strange.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: ttoommyy

                                I'd call you many things before I would call you "strange" ...

                                1. re: ttoommyy

                                  If you're strange, then I'm strange. Well maybe I am, but not because I prefer to use online shopping/reservations when I can.

                                  I like to have a written confirmation of reservation and I don't like phone conversations. If Open Table has no open tables, I will call.

                                2. Most of the places I go on my own dime don't require reservations but for work lunches, Open Table is my go to method.

                                  1. While I might use OT or its equivalents to gauge what a restaurant is showing as open (which may be different from what is open when you call them), I strongly prefer to make the reservation directly with the restaurant. Saves the restaurant money.

                                    1. At the risk of sounding like a dinosaur.....................

                                      "What's your preferred way of making reservations?"

                                      I hit the intercom button and tell my secretary wre and whn I want to dine and to please make the reservation.

                                      and since I own the business, there is no accusation of spending business time/dollars on personal business.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: bagelman01

                                        I handled things like that for my old employer. He was a former "big law" lawyer so that's what he was used to. Didn't bother me to do it either. Did the same for things like booking his car service to the airport.

                                      2. Rotatory Dial telephone.........

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Uncle Bob

                                          <Rotatory Dial telephone>

                                          Wow, I miss those.

                                            1. re: latindancer

                                              For nostalgia's sake yes, but I for one certainly don't miss dialing a phone!

                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                <Rotatory Dial telephone>

                                                Wow, I miss those.

                                                There's an app for that.

                                            2. I'm old fashioned, I user the phone. Can't stand open table, my reservations got messed up more than once.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: treb

                                                No system is perfect. I've had many a reservation taken by a live person over the phone get screwed up. At least with Open Table I immediately get an email confirming my reservation. If I show up for that reservstion and the restaurant has no record of it, I can show them the email on my phone and work something out. If I make a reservation over the phone and I show up at the restaurant and they have no record of it, then it's my word against theirs.

                                              2. open table>website>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>phone call

                                                1. Generally I try to go through the restaurant's web site which often links me to Open Table.
                                                  If nothing is available, I'll phone as I know most restaurants keep some seats off of Open Table and there are things that can be worked on the phone that you can't do via computer. Recently we were able to score a 5:30 PM "but we'll need the table by 7 PM" reservation. As we had tickets for a show and were hoping to be out by 7:00 at the latest it was a win-win for us and the restaurant. That night, if no phone call, no meal for us at that restaurant and an empty table for them while waiting for their 7 PM reservation.

                                                  1. 1. OT, 2. Website, 3. Phone

                                                    I hate to phone any where. Tonight I made a reservation 15 mins before I arrived at the resto. Within 10 mins of my arrival it was packed so I am glad to be able to have made the reservations quickly.

                                                    I don't know anything about OT details, from the restaurant side, but I've read/heard that restaurants using it can also use it as a tool for documenting 'difficult' customers and special details about the customer. I'm not sure if that's true or not.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: TSAW

                                                      That's absolutely true. Theres a field for "guest notes" and "reservation notes." Guests notes are attached to the name/email/phone number, and will show up every time you make a reservation. Reservation notes are a one time thing, and then auto delete.

                                                      GNs are often used to notate preferences of diners, if there were any problems in the past, how they were resolved, etc.
                                                      RNs are handy to notate bday/anniversary celebrations, what you're wearing if there's a wait so they can find you again, etc.

                                                      There is also a function that shows every instance that you've used OT for that restaurant, when and where you sat, or if you cancelled, no showed, etc.

                                                    2. Usually Open table- or whatever is linked from restaurant's website.
                                                      If there are any questions about accomodating the group (ie modifying a menu item for dietary restrictions) i call during off hours

                                                      1. I think that it's interesting that people think that calling saves the restaurant money even if they accept OT reservations. I don't think that is the case. It costs them more.

                                                        Open Table is an application suite that is actually saving the restaurants a lot of money in the end. They can gather statistics, look at history, make special requests and track those, etc. If they use OT and you call in, they are still using that as a reservation tool and they have to manually put in your information anyway. Save them the effort and do it yourself.

                                                        A lot of people don't realize the power that is behind having DATA and that is ultimately what OT provides to its customer (the restaurant). It is a deal for them to use this tool. From the perspective of someone that manipulates data for a living, this kind of tool is a godsend. They pay the fees because it's worth it. Ultimately, your data goes into the system whether you do it or the host/concierge does it for you... they WANT to gather your information. You're doing them a favor by using OT as an end-user. If you are calling in, you are costing them the time of the phone call and the extra step of inputting your data that you could have done yourself.

                                                        To manually gather the statistics that OT provides to the restaurants, the cost would be a lot of man-hours and I'm sure it would be a lot more than the fees charged by OT.

                                                        As a disclaimer, I've never used OT except to be the person on the other end of the keyboard.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: gardencook

                                                          There would be three critical assumptions to the idea that having "DATA" in OT is a "godsend":

                                                          1. That OT provides adequate functionality to present the data in meaningful ways.

                                                          2. That the restaurant has staff with enough time and skills to extract value from the "DATA".

                                                          3. That reservation statistics have a lot of value.

                                                          In my opinion, the POS data should be the first priority for any restaurant when it comes to data analysis.

                                                          1. re: nocharge

                                                            1. It does (based on the spec sheet on the internet).
                                                            2. That's up to the restaurant to ensure that they can get the reports that they need.
                                                            3. Reservations statistics DO have a lot of value. All data is valuable in this business.

                                                            Sure, the POS system is important, but they are probably paying thousands of dollars for that. The point is that OT is worth the money spent. $199/month plus a buck per reservation. Money well spent for any establishment that has to report back to some higher-up.

                                                        2. Open Table. I don't want to make a phone call and be placed on hold, or have to leave a message and then wait for a callback and wonder if I have a reservation or not.

                                                          1. Generally prefer an online facility (no view on whether Open Table type sites or the restaurants own). Means I can make the booking at my convenience. Particularly helpful when making reservations in countries in significantly different time zones or where the language is not one I'm confident in.

                                                            1. 1a. Phone
                                                              1b. Open Table

                                                              1. I prefer the phone. Personal touch.

                                                                1. When I cannot get a reservation, or I cannot get a reservation at a reasonable time, I have observed that I can often get a reservation on "Open Table." (I use this mostly once a year for Valentine's Day, but sometimes for other holidays.)

                                                                  Most of the time, I just call, especially because I can get some other information, like, "Will we be seated in the main dining room? Are outdoor seats available? etc.)