Reservation service surpasses millionth mark in high growth year
December 16, 2002
SAN FRANCISCO (Dec. 16) - It took three years to achieve, aided in part by the collapse of such onetime competitors as Foodline.com, but OpenTable Inc. recently processed at its Web site the millionth reservation on behalf of restaurant clients.
Internet reservation service OpenTable.com saw triple-digit growth in the number of diners seated through its service. The number of registered users to take advantage of the free service increased 140 percent between August 2001 and August 2002.
The San Francisco company said that milestone was attained through the computerized, electronic "reservations books" it maintains for 1,296 subscriber restaurants across the United States. OpenTable's service also includes in-restaurant and online table management and customer-relationship tracking for those clients.
OpenTable processes reservations across the Internet in real time through www.OpenTable.com, which has been used free of charge by registered diners since the site went live in the summer of 1999.
Thomas Layton, OpenTable's chief executive, said the growth in usage of his company's Internet service suggested that "like online ticketing and [ticketing for] travel, once people experience the ease and convenience of free online restaurant reservations, they become addicted."
OpenTable representatives said the millionth-reservation milestone was achieved in a year that saw triple- digit growth both in the monthly number of diners seated through its Internet service and in the total number of diners registered to use the Web site. During the 12-month period from August 2001 to August 2002, the number of registered diners increased 140 percent, to total more than 240,000 individuals, the company reported.
To illustrate how the growth in online reservations is impacting subscriber restaurants, OpenTable cited results in its home market of San Francisco for August 2002, when the Internet reservation service sent an average of 270 diners to participating establishments, up from 62 in August 2001. Viewed in the aggregate, subscribing restaurants in OpenTable's four core markets — Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. — saw their average number of Internet reservations rise to 141 in August from 43 in the same month a year earlier, the company said.
OpenTable disclosed that people who are dining at an establishment for the first time represent 51 percent of the reservations made through its Web site. Forty-seven percent of the reservations it processes are made the day of the intended meal or the day before.
About 26 percent of the Internet reservations made are booked between the
hours of 10 p.m. and 9 a.m., when many restaurants do not take reservations by phone, the service provider pointed out.
OpenTable said 82 percent of its registered users dine out once per week or more, 66 percent spend more than $30 per person at dinner, and 68 percent come from households with annual incomes exceeding $100,000.
In addition to information about the availability of seats at subscribing restaurants, the www.OpenTable.com Web site includes descriptions of the affiliated restaurants and their menus and operational facts, such as the name of the chef, hours of operation, phone number, price range and dress code.
OpenTable officials said that less than half of the people who conduct searches at its Web site are committed to a specific restaurant at the outset of their inquiry. Fifty-two percent of all users search to determine all openings for a given criterion, such as day, time, price range, type of cuisine or neighborhood.
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