Yelp Closes In On OpenTable

The New York Times: “A new crop of competitors is challenging OpenTable as never before, picking off the high-profile restaurants that are critical to attracting consumers, by offering better deals and newer technology. And for all the diners they do seat, neither OpenTable nor its competitors have yet loosened the telephone’s grip on reservations, roughly two-thirds of which are still made by phone, according to Yelp, which once partnered with OpenTable and is now a rival.”

“Yelp now offers several features to help restaurants manage their reservations — a surprising twist for a company that many restaurateurs love to hate for its sometimes-withering user reviews. Yelp says more than 4,000 restaurants now use its service for reservations. The company doesn’t need to attract marquee dining spots to entice users, who are already coming to it for reviews, giving it a major advantage.”

“Yelp Reservations charges a restaurant $249 a month … the flat-monthly-fee model used by most of the new reservation services helped discourage a restaurant practice that infuriates customers: holding back tables during prime hours. Some restaurants do that because they know they can fill the tables on their own at those times, and they like to seat valuable guests who show up at the last minute.”

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