Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Feb 6, 2014 10:44 AM

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?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  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 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.