If you have a restaurant or bar that takes reservations, this is an article for you. By implementing OpenTable functionality into your website, you can make taking reservations easier than ever for your customers. They’ll appreciate the ability to get on-demand reservations at your restaurant at any time of day and you’ll benefit from not having to man the phones to take reservations, sometimes resulting in calls being missed.
OpenTable is also better at converting the lookie-lous into customers via your inbound marketing channels than any other method since it’s significantly easier to convert someone who’s on your site via a Web integration than it is to get them to call the restaurant. In this article, we’ll serve up strategies you can sink your teeth into for using OpenTable to increase your restaurant’s bookings.
Using OpenTable as part of your holistic mobile marketing strategy
Research shows that upwards of 50% of your patrons Google your restaurant before deciding to stop in for lunch or dinner, many times from a mobile phone. Making it easy for these customers to find information about your restaurant from their mobile device is crucial to maximizing the number of seatings you can do each day. At the very minimum, your mobile-friendly website needs to have your location, hours of operation, a menu, and a reservation link (your call-to-action). OpenTable can provide that call-to-action with a highly optimized framework that is as easy to implement into your website as a link.
Because OpenTable is in the business of getting people to book reservations, their reservation gateway is top-notch in terms of driving conversions, and it has been heavily tested and optimized to ensure that patrons who visit your website can easily reserve a time and table at your restaurant.
Benefits to using OpenTable over phone reservations
One clear advantage to using OpenTable is that it has a strict policy against no-shows. Patrons who do not cancel their reservation ahead of time are sent an email. After four no-shows, OpenTable cancels their account. This ensures that patrons are held to their reservations and that cancellations are processed in a timely manner in order to keep your restaurant running at peak efficiency.
Another benefit to OpenTable is that you show up in their internal search engine. For many restaurants, this added publicity more than pays for the cost of using OpenTable. There are also interesting optimization opportunities within the OpenTable search engine.
One interesting reason to consider testing OpenTable is that you can offer your patrons incentives to take a less busy shift. For example, if you often start booking heavily around 7:00, you might want to offer incentives to book at 6:00 in the form of “OpenTable points,” which can be redeemed at a rate of $20 per 2,000 points. By offering 500 or 1,000 points, you’ll pay a higher fee to OpenTable, but you’ll start booking times of the day that you previously did not book. Since these off-peak reservations cost more than a normal reservation, this is generally a strategy used only at high-end restaurants.
Since marketing is as much about listening to the customer as it is about talking to them, OpenTable also allows you to maintain notes about the customer in your database for the next time they reserve a table. Do they want a booth, need a highchair? When is their birthday or anniversary? Do they prefer a certain waiter? Are they a VIP? OpenTable makes it easy to get to know your patrons on a first-name basis and keep them coming back.
How much does it cost?
That’s an important question for any business! When you make a reservation through one of your own links, like a link on your website, in an email blast, or via your Facebook, you pay just $0.25 per person. If a reservation is made on OpenTable.com through their search engine, you pay $1 per person. At the end of the day, these costs are entirely negligible compared to the other costs you pay to do business, and integrating OpenTable can drive more business, encourage fewer no-shows, and make automating the reservation process a snap. It’s a no-brainer!
Note: we’re not affiliated with OpenTable and this isn’t an advertisement.
I'm the Director of Digital Services and Partner at Ballantine, a family-owned and operated direct mail & digital marketing company based in New Jersey. and started in 1966 by my great uncle!