Do You OpenTable?
We do an internal culture Friday news email because we’re scattered to the 4 winds. We tell what’s on our minds. This week I included a NYTimes article about OpenTable
that I found interesting. I’m a HUGE 30k-ft business-view nerd. ..such as, stunning my fellow Thanksgiving revelers into tryptophan comas contemplating business startups during hard times vs boom years. The conclusion? Necessity is your mommy no matter when you start.
But not everyone finds this stuff instructive or fascinating. So, I was surprised when I got an immediate response to the article from culture’s Assistant Editor and still-active waitperson extraordinaire (see? If you start a magazine in December 2008 when the financial world has its finger looped through the pin, you do what you have to do until the beast puts the grenade down…whenever that will be.) Here’s what she said:
“I've used OpenTable in a few restaurants and it's an incredible tool, despite the fees. From what I've seen, it seems like a lot of restaurant owners are unaware of all the things it CAN do, which is a shame, and probably makes for bitter fee-payers. One awesome feature is that it emails each diner, post dining, asking for a review. This makes for well-rounded reviews as opposed to Yelp, where people typically go to vent or rave...there's not a lot of middle ground there."
(Huh..hadn’t occurred to me that another value of OpenTable was real diner recommendations. )
Before reading the article, I assumed there was no downside to OpenTable. It’s good for customers.
I had no idea it cost so much! But, as I thought about it, of course it had to cost somebody something, and I’M NOT PAYING for it! Duh.
At culture, we think all the time about stuff we want to do for our community; for the cheesefans, and the makers and mongers and chefs who love their cheese! It all requires time and investment, and we have to consider, WHO IS GONNA PAY FOR IT?
I can understand the difficulty a restaurant has in forking over monthly fees if they don’t feel like they’re getting a return. The little I know about the restaurant business is contained herein: razor-thin margins. But it seems like this is a genie out of the bottle. Maybe I’m getting too far into the ozone here, but virtual businesses multiplying wildly (hence the drying up of water cooler conversations wherein great food finds are shared by colleagues), and the growing power and prevalence of mobile devices, mean that OpenTable and Urbanspoon are here to stay for consumers. And it seems like there’s a LOT for restaurants too…if it’s affordable.
I would love to hear from chefs and managers if you use OpenTable, and if you consider it valuable or an evil necessity…or, if you’ve opted out.
I am grateful to Eilis for pointing out that OpenTable does more for its customers by giving them flexible tools and data. Makes me think about something we oughtta be doing…