- OpenTable, the biggest online restaurant reservation service with 45,000 listings worldwide, updated its mobile app to make it easier for diners to book and discover restaurants, according to a press release shared with Mobile Marketer. The app's home screen now shows two tabs, Book and Discover, to give quicker access to key features.
- The Book tab shows restaurant options based on the diner's location, time of day and the restaurant's availability with a new "now and nearby" map layout. In addition to booking a reservation, users also can read reviews, see photos and look up dining options in surrounding neighborhoods without leaving the app.
- The Discover tab offers diners personalized restaurant recommendations based on their dining history and preferences, as well as a curated lists like "New & Hot" and "Great for Brunch." OpenTable's app update is now available for all iOS users, and Android support will be launched shortly.
OpenTable's latest app design emphasizes immediacy by putting a Book tab on the home screen that helps people instantly find available nearby restaurants to avoid browsing through dozens of choices that are already booked solid. The company aims to tap into consumers' last-minute booking habits, as it found that roughly half of mobile reservations are made on the same day, and a quarter are within three hours of the dining experience.
This update comes two years after the company rolled out a redesign and first added the Discover tab to feature trendy restaurants and editorial picks from OpenTable insiders and industry experts.
While OpenTable was a pioneer in the restaurant industry, it's losing its stronghold over the reservation app space with an increasing number of competitors like Reserve, Resy, Seven Rooms, Tock and Yelp Reservations. In 2016, OpenTable owner Priceline, which was renamed Booking Holdings in February, said it was reducing investments in the system, realizing that OpenTable might not grow as quickly, especially in overseas markets, as originally estimated, per Bloomberg.
Possible reasons? The reservation apps vie for a limited number of restaurants in any given market, and two-thirds of diners still book reservations by phone, per the New York Times. However, OpenTable reported that 56% of its bookings take place on a mobile device. In addition, the startups offer newer features and sleek interfaces that make it easier for hosts to shuffle tables and manage dining rooms from their smartphones, per GrubStreet. They're also often cheaper.
OpenTable charges restaurants $249 a month to use the service, plus $1 per diner booked through the service's app or site, or 25 cents per diner for reservations booked on a restaurant's own website. Those fees add up, and some restaurateurs resent paying for repeat customers who have already shown their loyalty.