Created in 1998, OpenTable appeared to be a revolutionary restaurant reservation service. From that moment, the entire US outdoor dining was actually brought online. Chuck Templeton, the founder of the service, felt sorry for his wife who was desperately trying to book a table by phone. He came up with an idea of an essential online tool that now takes some of the best world’s dining venues to one place.

The success resulted in a total lack of competition in the niche by the end of the 90s. It let OpenTable grow into a monopolistic reservation service featuring huge revenues and rapid growth. The company had enough resources and finances to absorb several potentially strong competitors in the field. Priceline Group, which is one of the most recognizable travelling services, bought the company in 2014 for over $2.5 billion. Priceline Group owes such award-winning applications as KAYAK and Now it also runs OpenTable that features vast geography including 18 different countries around the globe.

In spite of changing the ownership, the company still takes leading positions in the market. It offers a full-scale reservation service and appears to be the main player in the niche. On the other hand, being among the first representatives of the mobile frontier, the company is no longer a dominating force due various successful applications and services launched within several last years. SeatMe, Reserve, Resy and TableSavvy are among the main competitors. They attract thousands of users with special offers, discounts, free options and other tools letting people proceed with a fast and easy registration with only once click.

Anyway, creating a good restaurant reservation app is still a good idea in spite of a tough competition. Many new interesting venues open daily around the country and world. At the same time, there are still so many interesting things to explore and offer to users. Some useful features can be obtained from the OpenTable experience as well.

Award-winning service for diners

OpenTable uses all possible strategies and tools to attract as many new potential users as possible. Apart from the official website, customers can take the advantage of mobile application available for smartphones and tablets powered by all major platforms including Windows, iOS and Android. Users can get a full access to a wide range of services in addition to reservation feature. They can now look up in the menu of a particular venue; get acquainted with restaurants’ descriptions, rates, reviews and more. The mobile version was originally accessible from iOS devices only. One year after the launch in 2008, Android device holders have started using the app as well.

The official 2015 statistics reveal more than 220 active users from across the world. The application brought restaurant fans more than $8 billion. In other words, creating such application may appear to be beneficiary for both sides including a developer and outdoor diners. The main goal is to may your product technologically advanced featuring a set of necessary tools and functionality, of course. Pay attention to loyalty programs, rewards, discounts and other things to treat your customers well. The main mission is to let your users discover the very restaurant to meet their needs and preferences.

Searching for a venue

OpenTable features great functionality. Users firstly need to create an account within an app. They can sign in using password and email as well as log in with a valid Facebook account. The app will automatically determine your location and provide a selection of restaurants next to you. Geolocation is a crucial feature for every reservation service.

Users will not just be provided with a list of restaurants, they will be able to choose from the top ones in accordance with their ratings and customers’ reviews. Moreover, you can choose a venue within a specific time span. A system lets you correct parameters of your search using filters. You can sort all available restaurants by an average cheque, cuisine, a number of attendees and more. Every revenue comes with a detailed description including some key points like address, phone number, available payment methods, working hours, etc. The system tracks all choices made by users. You have a chance to keep in touch with your booking history choosing preferable venues and favs.

Real customers’ reviews

Every user has a chance to share his or her opinion on a particular venue. The app can be used to write small reviews and leave comments. The 5-star rating lets you evaluate the food, service and some other factors. OpenTable protects both restaurants and users from fake reviews. In other words, a person needs to be a seated customer in order to leave a comment on a venue.

Loyalty program

Whenever you want to attract as many customers as possible, you need to treat them properly. Major restaurant reservation services offer additional discounts, rewards and bonus points for every booking made with the help of the application. On the one hand, loyalty programs will eventually result in a larger number of returning clients. On the other hand, it will keep them engaged. OpenTable offers an easy reward system offering users special points that can be exchanged into a free meal in a restaurant that is linked to the loyalty program. A user has a chance to convert a particular number of points into special prizes and gift cards.

Payment options

Many apps come with integrated online payment systems. OpenTable is not an exception. The app has its self-developed payment feature making it possible for every client to pay off the bill with only one touch using an application. Payment options range from Apple Pay to credit and debit cards. Moreover, the application has established a successful collaboration with one of the most reputable and trustworthy payment systems known under the Braintree name. It provides the highest level of security for every online transaction, which is of main priority t every cardholder.

Integration with NCR is another great advantage in favor of OpenTable. A cloud-based API platform lets users proceed with the payment safely directly from their portable devices. You will hardly think of a faster and easier way to complete the transaction online via smartphone. On the other hand, customers can now save their time and avoid waiting for a bill for hours.

OpenTable appears to be a beneficiary service not only for customers but also for restaurants. The level of revenue depends on two major sources of income. They include a number of reservations made via the application as well as a number of successful subscriptions.

Monetization with table reservation

Users can use the reservation service absolutely free. OpenTable does not charge any fees for that. On the other hand, all restaurants that are linked to the service pay $1 fee for every client who booked a table using the application. It does not matter if a user makes his or her reservation on the official website of the company, through the app or via special widgets. Some restaurant websites also provide OpenTable reservation feature for their visitors.

Moreover, venue owners are obliged to pay $0.25 per every client who has completed a reservation via the official website of a particular restaurant. In other words, venues have to pay for every action of their customers unless the reservation was made by phone. OpenTable does not charge any fees for that.

OpenTable comes with various marketing strategies and models letting restaurants participate in some campaigns. POP (pay-for-performance) program is one of such offers for venues. The idea is very simple. OpenTable offers additional 1,000 dining points for users who make a reservation in a particular venue. These points come in the form of stimulation. On the other hand, restaurants will have to pay $7.5 for every seated client, which is not much considering the opportunity to avoid empty restaurant during the off-season, for example.

Monetization with subscriptions

Every reservation service would hardly exist without a set of vital tools and features. You can come across various widgets and options provided by OpenTable to participating restaurants. They also include connection and remote IT support of a chosen payment option and more. Whenever a restaurant owner wants to be listed in the app, he needs to pay $700. The price includes the installation of all necessary software such as ERB and others in addition to staff training. Employees must also know how to use all those reservation features.

The Electronic Reservation Book is actually a virtual terminal that can be launched with a touch of a screen. It is an efficient reservation management tool that lets track and identify customers who regularly do not show up, late or cancel their reservations. A huge database contains information on every customer in addition to a road map of his or her activities and records. ERB can also be used to implement various ad campaigns, send emails and proceed with other useful operations. Whenever a restaurant wants to get full access to this software, the owner will have to pay $199 for a monthly subscription.

Does OpenTable really work?

Some of you may have doubts whether the application is really worth spending that money. However, experienced businessmen and restaurateurs are well aware of the fact that major part of revenue depends on reservations. If you compare reservation revenues with random clients, the difference will be overwhelming. For this reason, more and more venues are eager to cooperate with OpenTable and for this reason, developing a reservation service is still a good idea.