Like many other diners, when I’m looking to book a reservation, OpenTable is usually my first stop. It doesn’t get more convenient than booking directly online, and OpenTable has broad coverage of restaurants among those accepting online reservations. The site already has all my profile information saved so I don’t have to repeat my contact info during the process.
Where the process goes awry is a day or two before your resie and you get a call from an unrecognized number, which you send to voicemail and turns out to be the restaurant calling to confirm the reservation. Even worse yet, the host leaves a voicemail message with some number that’s different than the one they called on, so an additional step of jotting down the number has been added. Now it’s just good business for restaurants to do this since a ditched reservation can potentially mean an unutilized table and therefore money lost.
This is where OpenTable needs to intervene. After all, I booked my reservation online, so why not also confirm online through the system? A simple auto-email set for a certain number of hours prior to the reservation that could be set by the restaurant could be generated. Click a link to confirm and you’re done. Or they could also go the text message route, which Complete Seating does. (I’ve used this feature for AQ Restaurant in SF, and it works like a charm.)
There are benefits all around to this approach. On the restaurant side, it saves hours of phone calls to guests, freeing up the host to attend to other things. From the guest perspective, it streamlines the process, and it’s much less intrusive. I’d wager that restaurants would get a higher response rate as compared to phone calls and voicemails. Everyone wins—even OpenTable, which could redirect guests to the site after clicking the link to confirm.