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A Complete Guide to OpenTable for Restaurants

OpenTable For Restaurants

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When you opened up a restaurant, you probably didn’t think that you’d ever have to deal with setting up a website or figuring out how to handle online orders. For better or for worse, having an online presence is necessary for any restaurant. This includes giving customers the ability to make reservations online.

Instead of trying to come up with an online reservation system on your own, you can purchase software that does it for you – such as OpenTable. With OpenTable, your customers can book directly on your own website – or on the OpenTable platform. It also allows you to integrate its software into your own Point of Sale system, which makes it easier for your staff to handle reservations and table management.

At Budget Branders, we know firsthand how hard it is to juggle various aspects of your business. Our goal is to make one part of running a restaurant easy: getting high quality, custom branded disposable products at a great cost. Reach out today to learn more about how we can partner with your business.

What Is OpenTable?

In its simplest terms, OpenTable is a restaurant reservation software system. Invented in the late 1990s, OpenTable was the first of its kind in the industry. Today, it has numerous competitors – some of which may be a better fit for your restaurant, based on your needs.

OpenTable offers restaurant reservation services online in a number of countries, including the United States. To participate, restaurants pay a subscription fee plus a commission for each reservation made through OpenTable. Patrons can book a table, search for new places to eat, and leave reviews through OpenTable.

In addition to online reservation capabilities, OpenTable sells three main products: an electronic reservation book, a connect service, and a guest center plan. The electronic reservation book handles all reservations, both online and in-store, and allows you to view your floor plan to better manage seating arrangements. 

The connect service allows restaurants to link their online reservation capabilities to different platforms, such as Yelp and Google. This allows you to accept and track reservations across different websites.

The GuestCenter plan provides reservation management, plus shift summaries for employees, the ability to create guest profiles, and multiple table management. It can be integrated with a Point of Sale system for real-time analytics. An add-on to the GuestCenter plan allows restaurants to do marketing through the platform.

Customers can book reservations through OpenTable in one of two ways. First, they can book through OpenTable’s website by searching for restaurants based on their specific criteria (such as location or even special diets) or by restaurant name. Second, they can book through OpenTable directly on a restaurant’s website. OpenTable simplifies the reservation process and avoids the challenges associated with taking reservations by phone.

Any restaurant can be listed in OpenTable’s directory, even if they don’t have an account and aren’t paying a monthly fee. However, you can only update your restaurant profile and use OpenTable’s online reservation tools if you have an account with the company.

In addition to helping customers book reservations, the OpenTable platform helps restaurants manage reservations. This software can be used to manage reservations, assign tables, remember customers’ preferences, and even recognize repeat diners. The platform also generates reports that can be used to schedule shifts for optimal coverage, increase sales, and more. 

OpenTable is incredibly popular. According to the company, it is responsible for 23 million diners in 43,000 restaurants each month.

How Does OpenTable Work?

If you decide to use OpenTable, you have three monthly subscription options. In addition to these plans, you will pay a fee for reservations, takeout and “experiences,” which can be anything from special events to booking a seat in a specific part of the restaurant. The total cost for restaurant owners depends on the chosen plan and how many reservations are booked each month. For all plans, you only pay for reservations that are actually seated – so there is no cost for no-shows.

If you decide to use OpenTable, you’ll get set up with an account. From there, you’ll fill out your restaurant profile and add a plug-in to your website. You will be asked for basic information, along with info about your availability – such as how many covers your restaurant can handle every 15 minutes. You can then customize your availability based on specific days and shifts. For Core and Pro plans, OpenTable can dynamically set current availability based on your floor plan, table controls, and availability controls that you set for your restaurant.

OpenTable has onboarding specialists that can walk you through this process, which varies based on the plan selected. For example, they can help you determine availability, integrate your PoS system, and even set up push notifications so that you are notified immediately when you get a new reservation.

You can see how OpenTable works for both businesses and users in the videos below. 

How OpenTable Works For Users

How OpenTable Works For Restaurants

OpenTable Plans & Pricing

OpenTable offers three different plans for restaurants: Basic, Core, and Pro. A breakdown of the plan features and pricing can be found below. OpenTable is very transparent about their pricing and plans. You can also find all of this information on their plan page

Basic Plan Core Plan Pro Plan
$39/month $249/month $449/month
Reservations All Basic features All Core features
Guest database, tags, & notes Table management Automated email campaigns
Custom profile and listing In-house and online waitlist Automated guest preferences
Marketing tools Availability controls Automated guest profiles
Review management and analysis Real-time inventory Staff scorecards
Experiences POS integration  
Post-dining surveys    
Takeout ordering    
Direct messaging    

OpenTable Basic Plan

The Basic plan is free to try. After the first 30 days, you’ll pay $39 a month, plus $1.50 per reservation from the OpenTable website. Reservations from your own website will cost 0.25 per cover, or a $49 per month flat fee. In addition, OpenTable charges a 2% service fee for takeout and experiences on top of these charges. 

The Basic plan allows you to access OpenTable’s reservation system, along with:

  • A guest database, tags and notes
  • A custom profile and listing on the OpenTable website
  • Marketing tools
  • Review management and analysis
  • Experiences
  • Post-dining surveys
  • Takeout ordering
  • Direct messaging

OpenTable Core Plan

The Core plan costs $249 per month, plus a $1 fee per OpenTable site reservation and a 2% service fee for takeout and experiences. There is no charge for reservations made through your own website. It includes everything that the Basic plan has, as well as a highly-regarded table management system.

The additional features of the Core plan include:

  • Table management
  • In-house and online waitlist
  • Availability controls
  • Real-time inventory
  • Point of Sale (PoS) integration

Finally, the Pro plan costs $449 per month. There is a $1 charge per reservation made via the OpenTable website, plus a 2% fee for takeout and experiences. Like the Core plan, there is no charge for reservations made through your restaurant’s website with the Pro plan.

OpenTable Pro Plan

The Pro plan has everything that the Core and Basic plans have, plus additional tools for relationship management and automated marketing. This includes:

  • Automated email campaigns
  • Automated guest preferences
  • Automated guest profiles
  • Staff scorecards

Should I Get OpenTable for My Restaurant?

Having online reservation capabilities is critical in the modern era, when few people want to pick up a phone and call for a reservation. An OpenTable account is an easy way to offer online reservations, which can streamline the process and make it easier for your staff and diners alike.

OpenTable also has a huge marketing engine, with millions of registered users. This creates a great opportunity for restaurants, as they can put themselves in front of a massive audience by registering with OpenTable. This can help to fill empty tables and generate steadier business, particularly when OpenTable recommends your restaurant to potential customers based on availability.

However, there are some drawbacks to the system. It has a dining points system, which is great in theory – but it isn’t based on dining in a particular restaurant. Instead, the points system generates loyalty to the app – not your business.

While OpenTable is popular among both customers and restaurant owners, that can create a lot of competition. If you’re one of 300+ restaurants in your area that is on OpenTable, it may be hard to stand out from the crowd.

Finally, OpenTable can be expensive. Some of the biggest advantages of using OpenTable come with its in-restaurant reservation management system – but accessing these features will cost you at least $249 per month, plus added charges and fees. These little fees and per-reservation charges can really add up and may also be hard to budget for since you don’t know exactly how many people will book through OpenTable or order experiences or takeout through OpenTable.

Are There Alternatives to OpenTable?

There is no doubt about it – OpenTable is the top restaurant reservation management software in the industry. That doesn’t mean that it is the right choice for your business, however. Fortunately, more than 20 years after OpenTable was launched, there are a number of alternatives.

The most popular options include:

  1. Yelp Reservation, which offers both online reservations and table management. It costs $249 per month, all inclusive, and restaurants get an iPad when they sign up for the service. Being added to Yelp Connect will cost an additional $199 per month.
  2. Resy offers reservation, waitlist, and table management along with POS integration. When you sign up with Resy, you’ll get an online booking widget that provides availability to guests based on your floor plan. Customers can also enter personal details like birthdays, food allergies, and anniversaries. Resy has three tiers of pricing, ranging from $249 to $899 per month.
  3. Eat App is a guest data platform that ties into a full-featured reservation and table management system. It allows you to access data that can help you manage operations, customer feedback, marketing and more. Its software works on both iOs and Android, and can include payments, PoS integration, and phone integration. It has several monthly plans that range in price from $0 to $209.
  4. The Fork is available in 22 countries, and offers a customized reservation page for restaurants. Its booking management system includes an electronic reservation diar, a digitalized floor plan, multi-user configuration, and analytics. Pricing for the Fork depends on the country, but all services include a free tier as well as a pro and pro+ option.
  5. Allset is an online reservation system that offers easy PoS integration and both in-restaurant and contactless pickup options. With Allset, you can also take advantage of marketing and promotions options. There is no monthly fee for Allset. Instead, you pay a commission – which ranges from 8 to 12%, depending on your region – for orders placed through the app, plus a 2.9% transaction fee.

No matter which option you choose, you should keep careful track of the number of reservations that you are generating so that you can decide if it’s worth the cost. While these tools can be incredibly useful, they’re only beneficial for your business if customers actually use them.

How Budget Branders Can Help

Running a successful restaurant requires a lot more than just having great food. Software like OpenTable can help you stay booked and busy – for a cost. Doing a careful evaluation of the various alternatives can help you make the best choice for your needs.

Budget Branders is proud to work with independently-owned restaurants throughout the U.S. We provide premium quality disposable products – such as cups, coffee sleeves, take-out bags and bowls – that can be branded with your restaurant’s name, logo, and/or slogan. It’s a great way to increase your marketing efforts for minimal cost.

To learn more or to get a quote on our products, fill out our online contact form, or hit the “live chat” button.


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