My Thoughts on Open Table

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After reading this really interesting piece by Chris Cosentino of Incanto in San Francisco, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the reservation service Open Table.

He wrote: “Restaurants no longer own the relationship.”

Not true.  If you are diligent about asking customers for their email addresses than you have both the customers who call in directly to you, and the emails of those who enter through the OT website.

I believe that a lot of the reservations we get through open table aren’t “incremental”  eg, folks who wouldn’t have found us without OT.  I think that once a regular customer who uses open table makes a reservation through OT, they no longer do so by phone to us.  So they have become a no profit customer to us.

I also feel trapped.  It is definitely true that our weekends have become busier since we signed up with OT.  The fear is if we leave, will we continue to get those people or will their eyes, accusomed to seeing Angeli on their OT page just not realize it’s not there?

I think for restauranteurs who are very social media/technology savvy, who send out weekly newsletters, constantly try to grow their email lists, maintain a Facebook page, tweet etc OT may not be necessary.  But for others?  How else does your name get out there?